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TVG harnesses its psychic powers in order to play Second Sight, the latest game from Free Radical…
Waking up in an isolation cubicle in a US Military Facility, you play John Vattic who breaks free of his restraints by using his newly discovered telekinetic powers. Suffering from amnesia, Vattic must take a journey thorough the present, and delve into his pastâ?¦
The people at Free Radical have cemented their reputations on the very successful Timesplitters series, and Second Sight is a definite departure for the company; yet the game still retains the trademark qualities we associate with them. The storyline is dark and jumps back and forth more than a Tarantino flick, with shadowy characters and the drip-drip of Vattic slowly discovering the truth, all working together to build up the suspense in the game.
Vatticâ??s psychic abilities are obviously one of the main features of the game, and as you go through the first couple of levels, he discovers new abilities, including a Psi-Attack, Healing powers, and Astral Projection. The Astral Projection effect is particularly impressive â?“ Vattic crouches down and the electric blue, flickering â??etherâ?? of him appears, ready to walk through laser nets, and in later levels even possess other peoples bodies.
All of the psychic abilities rely on Vatticâ??s Psi-meter, which gets depleted if a Psi-power is used. Even though the meter gets replenished when a Vattic isnâ??t using a power, itâ??s a wise strategy not to be too hasty in using them. Some of the powers drain the Psi-meter quickly, while others are slower. For instance, the meter runs down slowly when Vattic is using the Astral Projection power. This allows you to judge the duration of a projection and whether you have enough time to operate a button or kill an enemy. Aside from his new found paranormal powers, Vattic can also use â??conventionalâ?? weapons in the game, including shotguns, pistols, and sniper rifles.
The way that Free Radical have developed the sniper rife is quite interesting. Nowadays, a lot of the games made with a 3rd person perspective include sniper rifles in their arsenal. The standard way of portraying a character using a sniper rife is to switch to a tunnel vision effect that focuses the player onto targets. Second Sight does it a bit differently; it brings up the rifle sight in the bottom right of the picture whilst the third person view remains. We think itâ??s a really innovative way of â??usingâ?? a sniper rifle â?“ it wouldnâ??t be surprising to see other developers using this technique in the future.
As weâ??ve already said, Second Sightâ??s storyline is non-linear. Donâ??t confuse a non-linear storyline with a non-linear gameplay. The story throws you from Vatticâ??s present, to events that occurred six months previously, when Vattic was attached to a group of marines sent to Russia to look for a Russian scientist. This is where the conspiracy really beings. One of the neat touches of the game is that when you go back to the past, you arenâ??t experiencing a flashback. Itâ??s almost as youâ??ve gone back in time to the actual eventsâ?¦its kind of a Quantum Leap moment (Righting the wrongs of the past and all that). We wonâ??t spoil it for you, only to say that the web is weaved quite well and there is an almost M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end.
Visually, Second Sight has a really nice style. Whilst the characters themselves look similar to the more human characters in Timesplitters (no bad thing), the environments appear oppressive and sinister. This goes for whether Vattic is in the clinical Military Facilities or the harsh snow of Russia. There also some nice visual details in the game. If you overuse one of the Psi-powers, a static effect will occur for a few seconds. We assume that this is used to represent a head-rush, and its an good example of how youâ??ll has to watch the Psi-meter if Vattic is to avoid being temporarily disorientated.
Second Sight allows you to choose whether you play the game through a Resident Evil style â??Cinematicâ? camera, or the Splinter Cell â??Free-styleâ? camera. We found that the game was more player-friendly if the free-camera was used, because the cinematic camera obscures some enemies from sight. As well as the camera, players can switch from third-person view to first, handy when you are trying to get a better understanding of your surroundings.
The physics engine in the game on the whole works well, and itâ??s quite being able to pick up items and throw them around just by using the power of the mind. When your telekinetic power develops, you are able to pickup people and throw them around also, or our personal favourite â?“ pick them up, move over a vertical drop (like the side of a building), and release them to their deathsâ?¦nasty, yet fun. Windows and skylights can be shot through, which adds a nice feeling of reality to the game. Certain items explode when you shoot them, and cameras shut down if they are shot too.
Throughout Second Sight, youâ??ll have to interact with computer terminals that dot the locations. You may have to download video files, or even unlock doors. Some of the computers are password protected; so hunting around for clipboards or notices that suggest the possible solutions becomes a standard throughout the game.
The music in Second Sight plays a part in also creating the correct atmosphere. The main theme is quite reminiscent of the first Max Payne, and the music is suitably dramatic when enemies discover Vattic. The sound effects are good, and the voice acting is solid.
One of the neat little features in Second Sight is that includes little mini-game. The game is called Earth Impact, and can be found in one of the â??pastâ?? missions. Itâ??s an arcade machine found in one of the common rooms in Russia â?“ kills a few minutes if you want to take a breather from the main game. Once youâ??ve unlocked it, Earth Impact becomes available to play from the in-game menu when you press the start button, under â??Applications.â?
This is a game of very few faults, with the main one being that itâ??s a tad on the short side. The puzzles are challenging, not least because you have to try and figure out which of the Psi-powers would be best suited to solve your problems. Targeting, whether it being Psi-powers or conventional weaponry can be a bit fiddly, but once youâ??ve mastered it, the control becomes quite intuitive. What works well in the game is weapon select. The left/right buttons on the D-Pad (we were playing Second Sight on the PS2) cycled through the Psi-powers, while the up/down buttons controlled the standard arsenal of guns. Sometimes, the auto-aim of the weapons is a bit dodgy (lets face it, you really want to be shooting at the people holding the sub-machine guns rather than a barrel that crossing your path), but on the whole, it works well.