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[09/22/2009] Forbidden Siren 2


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Title: Forbidden Siren 2 / Siren 2

Platform: PlayStation 2 (PAL)

Developer: Sony computer Entertainment

Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment

60Hz Option: No

Release Date: August 4, 2006




Forbidden Siren (simply Siren in Japan) is a surprisingly little-known survival horror series that was released for the PS2 around 2003. The first game's story is told though number of playable characters, and at the center of it all is a rural town of Hanuda. hanuda has a darker side, which basically amount to carrying out some ancient ceremony. The ceremony turned the rivers blood-red and many villagers undead, called Shibito. The Shibito aren't your garden variety zombies either; they can be quite cunning and intelligent, relentless, and above all else, they can't be killed; they go down - and re-animate sometime later.


What made Siren stand out from the rest of the survival horror genre was any given player character's ability to "Sightjack" other people, including the malevolent Shibito. This gave the game its strategic aspect as you needed to rely on the Sightjacking ability to know where each Shibito would patrol and make your way through whatever mission was at hand.


The Sightjacking ability made Forbidden Siren akin to Metal Gear Solid; the game promoted avoiding confrontation instad of fighting the enemies head on. The people in the Siren world are regular people with limited offensive options. This constant relying on stealth also made the game very difficult. It didn't take too long for the game to throw you a mission where you needed to make it to the other side of town, while several Shibitos patrol the streets as well as on rooftops armed with hunting rifles. To add insult to injury, the player would often be accompanied by someone else - getting that someone killed meant a Game Over. Clearing levels was often a trial and erro deal, and the game made sure clearing a mission felt like winning the lottery. This difficulty curve was noted by most reviewers at the time, and many gamers (myself included) found the game to be frustratingly difficult.


In the year 2006 Sony released a proper sequel, Forbidden Siren 2. Perhaps partly because of the backlash that the first game received, the sequel never saw a US release, just native Japanese and PAL one. It kind sucks for Americans becsause Forbidden Siren 2 addresses a number issues that plagued the first game, and while the gameplay hasn't changed much, there are still a lot of tweaks and improvements.



Forbidden Siren 2 takes a similar approach to its predecessor and pits a group of survivors on Yajima Island during a blood-red tsunami and a similarly crimson tidal wave that sweeps over the island shortly after. As you might expect from the small summary from the first game, this even once again turn the islanders into the Shibito, with the signature bleeding from they eyes, ears and mouth. Likewise, in true japanese horror tale fashion, ancient rituals, deities and some concept of Hell play a key role in the storyline.





Forbidden Siren 2 uses a rather novel concept of creating player model textures from photographs that have been taken from 8 different angles. This creates very life-life characters. The overall presentation has also been kicked up a notch with cleaner and more detailed textures and animation. Forbidden Siren certainly isn't an ugly duckling by any means. The lonely flashlight pierces darkness and fog quite nicely, although you won't see many dynamic shadows ala Silent Hill or Fatal Frame.



Like in the previous game, the basic gist of things is the ability to Sightjack the enemy. The vision has to be tuned similar to an analog TV and then you can bind that view to one of the face buttons. Sightjacking is used to see through the eyes of Shibito in the area, whether that be for just studying its patrol route, see the weapon it carries or find out some code or clue based on what the Shibito is currently looking at. While sightjacking, you can also hear the Shibito muttering to themselves, which is eerie as hell, and you can also hear their thoughts, or critical clues (rather disjointed and creepy as they are).


The Sightjacking has also been beefed up a little by introducing spexcial abilities for certain player characters. A woman named Ikuko can control the Shibito she sightjacks, and Akiko can reveal psychic impressions in certain areas, just to name a few. Combat was also made a little less cumbersome with you getting to choose whether you want to stay hidden or get up close and personal. There are also more weapons to choose from and melee attack options have been expanded somewhat. There are still time when you have to excort someone, but in Siren 2, the commands you can issue to the other person have been streamlined a bit, and work better (be it for better AI or something else, I'm not sure). The Shibito have been diversified to serve the story better and now there are the Yamibito and the Yamirei, new enemies that make the Shibito pale in coparison. The Yamirei especially, are more or less like sentient darkness, that disperses and stops attacking when light hits them.




The game still revolves around missions and a timetable of sorts that spans across a few days. After clearing a mission with one characer the next mission will very likely be in a completely different timeslot with a completely different character. After a while, you might stumble on a mission that takes place immediately after some other mission you completed a while a go. Many missions are very straightforward (Reach a certain spot) while giving you an option to sidetrack a bit looking for certain items that both unravel the story in their own way and maybe open an alternate path with a different objective in that mission. The characters you have to use during the missions is also something to look out for, since their abilities differ quite a bit from each other, i.e soldiers can easily gun down a mob of Shibitos while a small child have very little choice but to run and hide. In a one particularly atmospheric mission early in the game, you control a young man that is almost completely blind, and having to rely on Sightjacking his own dog. Now, sightjacking an animal introduces new hurdles since you are still controlling a blind person, yet you see through the eyes of his dog - effectively screwing up your sense of direction.


Sure, Shibitos are patrolling the streets, but a blind man and his dog must make it out of the house they're in to an exit leding away from the town.


Controls, AI, and Difficulty

The controls have been improved a lot since the first game. You can finally run while crouching and you do longer need to bring up the action menu to do the most basic actions, like opening a door. The action menu is still used to instruct any other people you might have with you during the mission. The AI is also improved, with the Shibito being faster and more aggressive.Then the difficulty... I've read that some people urge one to forget that the first game ever existed and enjoy the second one. I can understand where they are coming from, since the difficulty curve has been dropped considerably in Forbidden Siren 2. It's not that Siren 2 would be a walk in the park, no, but the difficulty eases itself int to the game in a much more tolerable manner.


Sound, music and voice acting

Forbidden Siren 2 wouldn't be nearly as good of a survival horror game if it weren't for its soundtrack to create the mood. The music in the game is extremely effective and creepy, like it should be. The titular Siren plays a role in the game by alerting the player to a Shibito that is already too close for comfort, although being a Shibito that has yet to locate the player.I can't say the same about the voice acting, which is yet again (same thing happened with the original game), the worst aspect of the entire game. Let me rephrase that: the The English voice acting is the worst aspect of Forbidden Siren 2. The voices seem unnatural coming from the mouths of clearly japanese people. To add insult to injury, most of the English voice actors are strikingly British. Strike three: It's just plain horrible.


Cringeworthy. Bleeding-from-the-ears cringeworthy.


Someone over at Sony's European publishing arm seems to have had a half a brain and listened to the complaints generated by the first game, so Sony opted to give us a choice between the original Japanese and Bleeding-From-the-Ears Cringeworthy British™. Let's just say that the difference is like night and day.





Forbidden Siren 2 is an excellent sequel to a game that was marred by plodding pacing thanks to almost complete reliance on stealth and grueling difficulty. Forbidden Siren 2 fixes a lot of things and and above all, is more easily approachable and playable. The atmosphere works very well, and Sightjacking that was an innovative concept in the first game has been improved and expanded in this sequel. The game's definitely for people who like to experiece surivival horror from a new angle and have don't hate spending some time in levels just to plot their next move. I would recommend this game to those who hated the first with a passion, though it's worth noting that this type of gameplay doesn't suit everyone - especially those who can't stand stealth and/or seemingly unsurmountable odds stacked against them.


Note to self: Erase all memories of the English voice acting.


A retelling of the first game, SIREN: Blood Curse is also available as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Hardcore Gaming 101 also has a comprehensive review of the series, though a warning is in order: The articles over at HCG101 contain some pretty heavy spoilers.





+The graphics are really something to see

+Scary and unsettling, not to mention gory

+The timetable is rather unique way drive the game forward

+Many playable characters that truly different from one another

+Convincing atmosphere

+An option to switch to a japanese voice track

+A cast made of seemingly ordinary and dull japanese people. Surprisingly fresh.




-It might take a good deal of time just to clear a "simple" mission

-The infamous difficulty raises its ugly head sometimes, so trial and error gameplay is still an issue somewhat

-Escort missions, although this can be a double-edged sword, so to speak

-Bleeding-From-the-Ears Cringeworthy British™ dubbing.

-Will not ease the hate generated by the first game for some people.



Story: 9

Graphics: 9

Gameplay: 8

Sound/Music: 10

Controls: 9

Difficulty: 7 (this number represents how tolerable the difficulty of the game is, regardless of how easy or hard the game is)

Feel: 10


Total: 8.8

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Excellent review as always, Agozer. I was pumped to play the PS3 version as I read through until.....your last sentence: A retelling of the first game, SIREN: Blood Curse is also available as a PlayStation 3 exclusive.


Now I am not sure whether to get it or not for my PS3 ........


EDIT: NVM, your link allays my fear, yay!

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From what I've heard Blood Curse is truly a retelling, meaning that it shares the basic storyline with some changes, but introduces a completely new cast, few new gameplay elements and supposedly isn't as unforgiving as the first game. So what I'm saying is that you should give it a go anyway.


I haven't played Blood Curse, so everything I say about it is conjecture. If you can rent the game, or get it somewhere really cheap, then that's good. At least it'll keep you from tearing your hair out if Blood Curse turns out to be as "bad" as the first.


EDIT: Ah, so you put an edit. ok.

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