Monday, December 13, 2010
If there’s one thing I can distinctly remember from my childhood, it was playing Splatterhouse 3 on the Genesis and decapitating this freak and then, after lopping off its head, killing it again and making it erupt into a seizure. It was freaking disgusting. But you know what, that was Splatterhouse, man, which is a series that was notorious for being not only violent but also creatively morbid. For every 4x4 to a monster’s melon, there was a demon vomiting in the background. It was sick, it was twisted, and it was beautiful.
And so here we are with a surprising update, which is filled with swear words, heavy metal and blood by the buttloads. Is it a worthy successor to the series? Well, yes and no.
The story once again follows Rick and the Terror Mask, which turns him into a muscle-bound wrecking machine. In previous installments, due to the limited capabilities of the systems they were on, the mask was just there to look cool on Rick’s face. But in this game, it actually talks to you—Over and over and over again. I’m not saying that I dislike it, because I don’t. It can be both comical and sinister in its commentary as you impale a creature on a spike, but it just won’t shut up. I wish there was an option where I could turn it off whenever I pleased, as sometimes, I just didn’t want to hear it squawk and curse at me and just wanted to hear the atmospheric sounds in the background.
That being said, without it, I definitely think this game would be a poor man’s God of War, as everything from filling a vial of blood to unlock new moves, to the repetitious combos are definitely inspired by the Ghost of Sparta. It’s pretty much impossible not to make that comparison, really, as Rick even does quick time sequences and can roll out of the way of enemy attacks when he feels like it. Seriously, even though the roll is designated to the R trigger, I sometimes tried to roll about with the right bumper by accident. And all this did was swing the camera around all over the place (The R bumper is the camera, you see), which made me dizzy as all hell. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to imitate God of War, then go full on. Don’t put the camera on the right bumper. That’s where the roll technique should be. It worked with GoW, and it would have worked here. Gawd.
But back to that story. Rick and the Terror Mask reunite to go save Rick’s girlfriend, Jennifer, from the nefarious, Dr. West, who…oh, who really cares? Even though it was written by comic writer, Gordon Rennie, who scribed some Judge Dredd stories, it’s still piss poor and boring. I mean, seriously, how far can you go with a story like this? Why does every game these days have to have a story attached to it in the first place? Rick going to save his girlfriend from monsters was fine back in the original game in 1988, and it would be fine today as long as the gameplay was excellent, so why waste the effort? In fact, this is more of a remake than anything anyway, so just stick with the original story without explaining everything. At least the game gives you the option to skip the videos if you don’t want to see the story, which is appreciated.
And speaking of the original game, you can find it in here after you pass a certain point. The second and third games are in here as well. Honestly, I started with the third title in the series, so I’m not really nostalgic for the older two. They’re side-scrollers, whereas the third game has you clearing out rooms and searching throughout the mansion for Jennifer and your child. If you played the first two games and loved them, then you’ll be in for a treat, but for someone who never played them until I played this game, they’re not all that special. Splatterhouse 3 still holds up though, and I would love to say that it’s worth the price of admission, but sixty bucks sure is a lot to pay for a Sega Genesis game that really looks and sounds its age. Still, it’s a nice added bonus and a fun little extra. I’m glad they included them on the disc. They make for a nice history lesson.
What really tears it for me with this new Splatterhouse though is that it’s monotonous as all hell. Sure, it gets much better once you’re leaping through portals and what not, and the 2D sections, which are reminiscent of the original two games, are a fun way to break up the punch, punch, grab, eviscerate, moments, but the game just doesn’t hold up in the long run. After awhile, it just gets really boring, and where God of War 3 stunned you with its boss battles, the boss battles in this game are lame. Not once did I feel in awe of them, no matter how big they were. Also, you fight many of the same baddies over and over again. There’s little to no variety here. I didn’t get much pleasure out of breaking their skulls with my fists, especially when you really only have two attacks with a jab technique and a heavier blow, which you can charge.
But anybody who knows at least a modicum about Splatterhouse knows that the fun lies in the weapons, and the game rewards you for sticking around by giving you a chainsaw and a shotgun later in. Even after slaughtering some of the same enemies over and over again, I found a cheap thrill in blowing them away or chopping them up with the chainsaw. It’s the little things, really; the little things.
The graphics, when in the dark, look like shit, but once you’re in the light, it looks pretty good, with shadows running off the walls and the blood spillage looking more impressive. I have no complaints with the graphics…when they’re in the light. But I do have a problem with the music. Though I know they were trying to go for a really heavy, guitar blasting soundtrack, I really miss the spooky tunes of the third game. Especially when this game under-utilizes a great band like Mastodon for the soundtrack. (Man, how many different soundtracks do I have to hear “Blood and Thunder” on? Sheesh).
Overall, though, while not a great game by any stretch of the word, it’s a fairly competent title that may get boring after awhile but is alright in short spurts. Should you buy it? Only if you’re a hardcore fan of the series. If not, then you can get your blood by the bucket loads elsewhere. This Splatterhouse doesn’t need to be unlocked.
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Rating: Three stars