Some sequels evolve so much that they are cherised by the fans who wondered why the games took so long, such examples include Halo 2, Project Gotham Racing 2, Tekken 5, Grand Theft Auto & Half-Life 2. However, some sequels are best described as a mini-update, such as the EA sports yearly titles, or the Tony Hawk franchise. So, is The Suffering: Ties that Bind going to be cherished or looked at as a cleverly disguised expansion pack?
The Suffering: Ties that Bind is a sequel to The Suffering which was released only twelve months ago. The game was a surprise hit for Midway and they have been quick to follow it up with a sequel. However, in the past twelve months there has been a lot of competition in the survival horror genre with Resident Evil 4 setting extremely high standards for developers from now on. Obviously not hindered by this, Midway are offering gamers more of what they want; a continuation of Torque's story. whilst more of the same may be a good thing, a lack of evolution isn't.
The game begins with a bit of a flashback scene (which will seem very familiar), those who haven't played the predeccesor will appreciate this and after twelve months, it is always good for a bit of a refresher course on the storyline. Those who haven't played the predecessor only need to know that it revolves around Torque; who is seeking revenge against Blackmore who is mysteriously linked to the death of Torque's family. We don't want to give too much of the story away; but in reality the story takes a bit of a backseat to the action in the game. This is a bit of a shame as the predecessor had a really immersive storyline that would have been great to continue on in this game.
This guy looks like Baraka from Mortal Kombat
In the lead up to the game's release, Midway told us they improved upon the gameplay of the game and it was uniquely different to it's predecessor. However, the game itself hasn't evolved too much and the gameplay refinements are only recognisable when you've spent a lot of time with the game. One of the most notable improvements in the game is the inventory, which has been redesigned and is definitely easier to use. The contrls are a little easier as well, but aside from these few tweakings the game remains very similar to its predecessor. Torque also isn't able to carry all his weapons around with him at all time, players are able to carry a few weapons so there is some strategy in choosing the right weapons for the job.
There is a multi-tiered insanity mode now which allows Torque to "evolve" into a demon, this makes him temporarily more powerful. The atmosphere in the game is one of the best assets of the title as well and the game is definitely scary. Those who like to be scared shitless from their games should find enough satisfaction, as there are jumping enemies and flashbacks which catch the player off guard.
Whilst there are a few different difficulty levels in the game, it is often bizarre to work out what to expect from the title. At times it is not uncommon for there to be be a mountain of enemies surrounding you, and as quickly as it begins, it ends - and the player is alone, walking isolated for a decent amount of time.
Graphically, the game looks fairly good. The enemies seem to be recycled from last year's version though and really don't look that different. The visuals are clean but the environments aren't very large, so we wouldn't expect nothing less. The exterior environments in the game are definitely better than the interior environments and we're glad that most of the game takes place outdoors.
Soundwise, the weapons all sound really good, but there could have been more music to keep the tempo up a bit. We aren't sure whether the decision was made to include as little music as possible to keep players guessing, but more background noise would have made the game seem more intense.
The game itself will take a decent amount of time to complete. Completing the game in its entirety could take up to fifteen hours. There are multiple endings as well, but they don't vary too much and aren't worth playing through the entire game again for.
The Suffering: Ties that Bind is a decent action survival horror title. We're disappointed that the game feels extremely familiar, even though Midway promised a lot of evolution. Fans of the previous game should enjoy this incarnation, but it is not as story based as the previous title - the emphasis is very strongly on action; and lots of it.
We suffered (wow, hillarious) through a few problems that hindered our overall enjoyment of the game. The rollercoaster difficulty level is hard to keep track of, as there can be a hugely intensive area and then ten minutes of exploration, which makes it hard to keep up. If a third incarnation was developed then Midway are going to have to evolve the game a lot more as well, as it feels like you're playing an upgrade, rather than a sequel.
The Suffering: Ties that Bind will be available on the Xbox, PS2 and PC on the 28th of October, 2005.