SAW 2: Flesh & Blood PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Zombie Studios
The original SAW game served to please fans of the SAW movies and also provide us with a new style of survival horror game. The game had its problems, one of which was a rather awkward combat system, but on the whole it was a game not without its merits. Here we have SAW 2: Flesh & Blood and the question is whether it can also capture the feel of the SAW movies and, amongst other things, improve upon the combat this time around.
Those hoping for some connection with the movies may be a little disconcerted to learn that in SAW 2 you don't play as Detective David Tapp. In SAW 2 you'll play as Tapp's son; someone who has never been mentioned in any of the movies. Michael Tapp is a reporter and is seeking information about the death of his father. Michael is kidnapped by one of Jigsaw's henchman and then has to not only survive one of Jigsaw's twisted labyrinths, traps and all, but also fight against those whom his father helped imprison. Of course he'll also have to learn what happened to his father too.
You won't begin the game as Michael Tapp however. You're initially put into the shoes of a drug addict named Campbell. The game begins in a monstrous fashion with Campbell having a hideous contraption fixed to his head which he must remove in time to avoid being decapitated. However, the key to the device has been embedded into his face and in order to get the key you'll have to take a scalpel to his face and make an incision just under his right eye. It's a horrible beginning but totally in keeping with the general tone of the game. Campbell will eventually have a choice to make about whether to save his own life or another's and this choice will determine how the game finishes.
The one area of the game that has changed is the combat. The combat is now reliant on quick time events and whilst the idea of this may initially disappoint, there is no getting away from the fact that the combat on the whole is much less problematic this time around. That's not say it's enjoyable however. The quick time events feel out of place here and the combat still isn't satisfactory. There are times when you won't have to rely on quick time events and instead make use of your surroundings and traps to defeat your enemies. These battles are certainly better and fit in with the style of the game.
The game's puzzles are pitched about right. None of them are particularly difficult although you will have to apply some thought in order to complete them. Usually you'll want to do some exploring of your immediate surroundings for some kind of hint but there are times when you'll simply have to think things through. In many respects the puzzles are the best aspects of the game and I certainly saw them as the game's redeeming feature after the disappointment of the combat system.
The game's presentation is pretty similar to that of the original game. The graphics do look slightly sharper this time around and the textures appear to be a little more detailed but the improvements are only minor. The game is subtitled but the subtitles are not enabled by default this time around. You'll be aware of all of the dialogue in the game as well as all objectives you must complete. There are no captions however and you won't get a true sense of the game's intimidating atmosphere which is a little disappointing if this kind of game is your thing. The screen will redden at the edges when either Michael or Campbell are hurt and the game makes good use of force feedback to heighten the tension.
Ultimately, SAW 2: Flesh & Blood is more of the same in most respects. Whilst some might bemoan the fact that the combat is now reliant on quick time events there's no denying that it's less problematic than the combat that was present in the original game. In other respects however the game doesn't feel that different. Purists will be disappointed that the storyline doesn’t fit in with those of the films but survival horror fans who appreciated the first game won't be too bothered by this as long as they don't mind the different nature of the combat system.