Having heard nothing of Saw The Video Game since this years E3 Demo, this K-Mart ad was the first I heard of it actually having a release date. I figured dropping $60 on it would be equivalent to joining the pro-life parade so I stopped by the local GameCrazy and, lucky for me?, they had a copy available on Xbox 360. I'm not a huge fan of the films but I figured a video game adaptation was ripe with possibilities. Brash Entertainment originally began working on the game which later sold the rights to Konami who left development in the hands of Zombie Studios. What entails is some shitty gameplay mechanics, pointless fetch quests, and an infuriating combat system that fortunately is so pathetic you can use it to your advantage. Terminator Salvation ain't got shit on this. If you were considering picking this up do yourself a favor, don't. I rented this and I still wish I could get my 8 bucks back and punch the guy in the face who let me walk out with this in my hand. I wish the staff of 1UP worked at GameCrazy, but I digress.
The game starts out just like the movies immediately dropping you into one of Jigsaw's puzzles causing you to scramble for the solution in the form a quick time event, without warning or any primer whatsoever. The immediacy of the situtation definitely helps build tension getting the game started on a high note. It's after you solve the puzzle and earn your first acheivement that everything starts to barrel downhill and fast. Early previews had led me to believe the game played out as more of a Dragon's Lair interactive movie type than the generic Silent Hill clone it turns out to be. You scour an abandoned asylum looking for clues and solving puzzles that, although repeated ad nauseam, are what the game excels at. Unfortunately when even that element is crippled by the fact that there is little to no sense of accomplishment for solving said puzzles it renders the whole mechanic useless. Countless times I'd go out of my way to find a nail, to pick a lock, only to find a gear to open a box on the other side of the map, that Jigsaw had left me, with schematics I had already found in a room down the hall in plain view, let me catch my breath, repeat that for 8 hours or so and you've got yourself a game, or so Konami thinks.
You are told early on that you carry the key, sewn into your stomach, that others will need to escape their demise. It sounds exciting in theory but in execution you soon realize it only serves as a way to artificially extend gameplay beyond the puzzles and justify a $60 purchase. While wandering around the asylum you'll encounter some nut jobs wearing some very familiar, and overused, head garb looking for the key. These segments in the game are eerily reminiscent of what the early Silent Hill games excelled at which was causing tension and fear by not allowing you to control your character in a manner that actually made any sense. The combat system is so unresponsive you'd think the game was based around leading a paraplegic to hope. Weapons are massively overpowered, that is if you can happen to hit anyone with anything. Unless your goal is to earn your first kill with each weapon achievement I'd recommend sticking with your bare hands, it'll get you out of anything, even the last boss. At the same time I'd recommend not playing the game so you can get the I-DIDNT-HAVE-TO-PUT-UP-WITH-8-HOURS-OF-THIS-SHIT-ACHIEVEMENT-BECAUSE-I-DONT-HAVE-A-BLOG-AND-HAVE-BETTER-THINGS-TO-DO-LIKE-HAVE-KIDS or what most people call a life.
Saw The Video Game had so much potential but it ultimately falls flat. It suffers the same fate other licensed shovelware does when it comes to pricing. Just like Wanted: Weapons of Fate, Bourne Conspiracy and shitty games alike before it, Saw would be a acceptable game if it would only hit retail at a lower price point. By the time it hits the bargain bin people have forgotten and studios have shut down. If only big publishers like Konami would start a budget line for these types of games I bet you'd see less studios closing down immediately after development and more risks being taken in terms of experimenting with gameplay. Licensed games already have brand recognition. I feel sorry for the poor schmuck who picks this up on face value alone. Regardless, Saw II is still my favorite of the 5 films currently out due to it's ability to really capture the essence of how humanity fails to follow simple instructions and allow their emotions to cloud their thought process. Is it possible for a game to capture this and force you to make decisions that carry the same weight? Absolutely. Does Saw accomplish this? Not in the least. I couldn't begin to careless about the characters and stories being told and if Konami expects Saw to be the next survival horror franchise to succeed Silent Hill they need to do a massive overhaul of it's combat system or simply remove it altogether.
Screenshots courtesy of 1UP.com