Following the release of 'Psi-Ops: Mindgate Conspiracy' comes Codemasters 'Second Sight'. Second Sight follows a similar path as Psi-Ops, dealing with conspiracy theories, amnesia heroes, and psychic powers. Although Second Sight sounds similar to Psi-Ops, it's original enough not be viewed as a clone.
Second Sight puts you into control of John Vattic, your typical reluctant hero who believes in the analytical side of life, before any "psychic mombo-jumbo". Although John is hesitant, he has no choice but to embrace the psychic powers he has inherited. John Vattic is no longer the simple non-violent man you meet in the beginning; Vattic has been transformed into a paranormal killing machine! In perspective, it is ironic how much his John Vattic's character mirrors Nick Scryer from Psi-Ops, and how similar their stories are.
Seconds Sight story is played out in the 3rd person perspective and will often have you jumping into the past as Vattic re-lives past memories. It's nice that the flashbacks are playable levels, and more than viewable cut scenes. The story reminds me of the motion picture Memento, how you start close to the end and have to work your way up to the current situation. It's not half as deep or confusing as the film 'Memento', but it has a similar vibe.
Sneak or Shoot?
The gameplay in Second Sight is best described as an action adventure game, but there are more elements then those two aspects. Second Sight has a fair amount of shooting and stealth involved in the game as well. Free Racial has created a great targeting system which makes it simple to use your psi-powers or standard ranged weapons. They have also done a great job on the now standard range of stealth moves. It's up to you how you progress through a level, how often you use your powers or rely on your basic skills. Sneaking around is much easier to avoid combat situations, since you can turn invisible. Although at times you will have to use a combination of skill and powers to progress. A major bonus is that Vattic's Psi-Powers do regenerate, so you can go as wild as you want if you have enough energy.
Trial and Error
You will have to suffer through some trail and error moments in Second Sight, where you'll have to repeat a mission several times until you nail a good pattern down. The enemy AI as you will discover isn't the brightest with their stealth detection being little weak. Sneaking past guards isn't normally a problem, but that doesn't mean the game is a walk in the park. When you are spotted it's almost impossible to beat the odds. The main reason why it's so hard to escape the opposition in Second Sight is because the enemies re-spawn! Yes, that's right. Re-Spawn. Although re-spawning has taken a break from most next-generation games, this instant vortex of regenerating enemies is back, and unfortunately plagues Second Sight. With the serious nature of Second Sight demeanor, re-spawning just doesn't gel. It's the biggest flaw in Second Sight, so once you get past this fact the game you will have a more pleasant experience.
All spawning aside, Second Sight does prove to have rewarding gameplay with a great story, including interesting flashback sequences and useful psi-powers. Second Sight does run a little short although it can be replayed on a higher difficulty level, but the replayablity is rather low. There are no multiplayer modes, or unlockable content so most players give Second Sight a go, and then sit this one on the shelf.
Graphics & Sound
Second Sight looks very similar to their Free Radical's 'Time Splitters' series, which blends realism with cartoon-inspired graphics. The graphics aren't too crisp or overly detailed, but work well with the overall style. I found the level design is equally bland as the special effects and I would have liked a little more dynamics in the graphics and special effects. Second Sight is an average looking game with that patented Free Radical look.
The sound in Second Sight is helps the game achieve its cinematic flair. The soundtrack is appropriate and adds the right amount ambience for each situation. The voice acting is very well done, John Vattic and the other characters really sound there part and combined with the atmospheric music this does wonders. The other effects in the games like powers, weapons, and the other sound effects are decent enough although could of used more of a 'punch'. It's really the voice acting which makes playing through the game more enjoyable giving the amount of dialog in the script.
Seconds Sight boast to innovation is a little different from most games, what innovates in Second Sight is the well written and executed story line. Free Radical revels the story in an interesting way, and as the story unfolds you will be drawn into the world they've created.
Other innovations in Second Sight would have to be the flawless auto targeting system, which is integrated with strafing against walls, ducking behind objects and peaking around corners. I am totally impressed and surprised about the gun play aspect of the game. To single out one weapon which is more innovate then the rest would have to be the exceptionally designed sniper rifle. The way it works is when you spot a target a little zoom window will pop up in the corner showing the aspect out of the telescopic lens, that side of the screen with zoom in and out on the target while the rest of the screen stays in its normal perspective. It's definitely something that needs to be viewed and sampled and its a great change from most games.
Lastly, Free Radical pulls another brilliant design aspect in the way you interact with the environment. Not only did they make almost everything in the game moveable like Psi-Ops, but the made some neat little interactive elements with the computer terminals. Again this was a surprise and something I didn't expect, adding this layer of detail really pulls Second Sight up a level of detail and realism. Most of the computer terminals are windows based machines which you can open and close different windows, explore the system and run different programs. There is even on instance in the game where you interrupt a chat session and if you stay on long enough, the person on the other end of the terminal will be trying communicating with you. Second Sight is full of little touches that go a long way in the way you perceive the game. It's a great effort and surpassed my expectations.
Do we really need another amnesiac psychic hero? Probably not, but now we have Mr. John Vattic in the ongoing library of Xbox games. Since Psi-Ops already used the amnesiac angle it would have been nice to see Vattics character in a different setting, since in a reluctant mental geek way he still retains some mojo vibes. Second Sight does move ahead with more mojo points with the great psychic powers. Throwing things around with telekinesis all too much fun, you really can't beat sending things into people inspecting heads! It would have been good to use weapons with powers like in Psi-Ops, so the mojo can't reach its peak. Overall Second Sight satisfies, but the mojo doesn't explode.
Second Sight's visuals are a little dull, and the game isn't as violent or flashy as its rival Psi-Ops. But where Second Sight does excel is in the balancing of the story with some innovative gameplay elements. Although Second Sight has some flaws it will keep you gaming until the end.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 6. Final: 7
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy |
October 18th 2004