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The Suffering
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The Suffering (2004)

Category: XBox
Publisher: Midway Games Ltd
BBFC: 18

"You play Torque, a man awaiting execution for the murder of his wife and child. The maximum prison detaining you is besieged by monstrous apparitions, thus allowing you a possible escape route."

Review by
Andrew Rowat
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Review Date: 03 January 2005 My Rating: out of 5


This is a game that thrusts you into a plot darker than you can care to imagine. You play a man who is potentially guilty of mutilating his own wife and kiddie - how horrific is that? A kind of Amityville Horror as back story. Almost justifying its 18 certification before the game has even begun. Then comes the swearing, making the Def Jam games pale in comparison. Understandably, your character (Torque) is on deathrow, and these in habitants wouldn't be speaking in the Queen's English in reality, but boy do these guys swear.

Anyway, the game begins with you esacaping in the midst of much supernatural confusion with many inmates and guards being noisily killed by nasty monsters. In third person mode (there is an option for first person) you steer Torque around the dark corridors, simply looking for a way out. Along the way you can pick up weapons and can interact with your potty-mouthed fellow inmates and guards by either assisting them or simply hacking them to death - - this latter option will lead towards Torque's mental instability, hence the action will occasionally become distorted, slowing down, with strange sounds etc. If evil keeps playing a part in your game-play, Torque will eventually become a monster himself, allowing you to run around marauding people like some superhuman schizoid.

Each of the monsters you encounter during your escape is characterized by some form of torture or capital punishment that has in years past been practised at this prison. My favourite character was a chap with lethal injections for eyes. Nice. The game appears to be making valid, satirical points about the savagery of capital punishment, it reminded me of the movie 'Session 9'. Perhaps the game designers were having a pop at the American Government with a view to changing reform, who knows?

This is a horror with no sense of slow-building dread like the previous mentioned films, it follows in the episodic frightfest tradition of Resident Evil. The Suffering is also an action game with a short attention span that is as much about big guns as it is about dark , nightmarish monsters.

I liked The Suffering, though where it mainly failed was in its repetitive nature - this may prove as a plus to many gamers wanting no surprises. However, I found it slightly predictable after a time and yearned to be frightened. All i got was shadows and ultraviolence - which is fun, of course.

The graphics are very nice, with the main characters rendered in a believably dirty, sweaty fashion. The monster designs are superb and unrivalled in games, even topping the recent Doom 3 for sheer imagination and artistic verve. For me, though, the real star of the show is the prison environment - a nasty, claustrophobic, edifice that looks like Hell personified. The walls occasionally daubed with blood, or messages of despair penned by the doomed inmates. The cells have clearly been lived in and contain unmade beds and scraps of pornography about the walls. Herein also lies a problem, the environment is so well rendered it becomes too opressive and hence difficult to play. For those with a stronger constitution, this will not pose an issue and this is definitely a game worth a look. If anything its a game worth purchasing for casting as its protagonist the most problematic antihero ever conceived. A possible wife-murdering, child killing, schizophrenic, criminal werewolf - lovely. Also, with a sequel almost upon us this shouldn't be too hard picking up at a cheaper price.

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