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May 24, 2005
Obscure - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
27/9/2004UbisoftHydravision Ent1-2MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
280KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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The games intro scenes.
I still remember the day well, my first introduction to the survival horror genre. The year was 1996 the machine the mighty Playstation, the game the legendary Resident Evil. Never had I been so impressed by a video game, and I was not alone as the game went on to become a massive hit. After seeing the awesome sales and critical acclaim the game received game companies the world over set out to make there own survival horror smash, to varying results. We have seen the splendid Silent Hill and Project Zero titles and even Ubisoft's own impressive Cold Fear. Here we have Obscure, Hydravisions entry into the survival market, so is it a Resident Evil wannabe or can does it conjure up its own frights? Let's find out.

The game is set in Leafdale High School and you take on the role of five teenagers to find out what is behind the freaky goings on. Each of the five teens all have a special talent, which can be used when the square button appears in the top right hand part of the screen. The first character we meet is Kenny, a basketball player whose strength is his speed. We are then quickly introduced to the other four characters; Josh the reporter who sniffs out clues, Stan the rock dude who is good at picking locks, Ashley the cheerleader is pretty useful in a fight and Shannon the nerd who is a brain like Josh.

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Fun in the locker room!
The gang is locked inside Leafdale, and things start to go pear shaped as all sorts of freakish monsters start popping up and the teachers that are still at school are more than a touch odd. Then you set off solving puzzles, blasting beasties and looking for ways to open locked doors. Yeah I know we have seen it all a thousand times before right? Well yes and no. Yes it is treading on Resident Evils toes but it does have a unique twist of its own. You play the game in a group of two, which does open up some different gameplay options. For instance you can give some limited instructions to your team mate, things like wait, follow me to more handy things like them shooting monsters while you pick a lock, you can also switch between the two characters at any time by pressing the circle button. Another cool feature is the fact that you can save the game at anytime provided you have found a CD to save on (yeah a CD, this game is way more high tech than Resident Evil with its old fashioned ink ribbons!) as well as a handy system of pressing either the R2 or L2 buttons to switch weapons or select items, it is much better than having to pause the game and go through half a dozen menus just to equip and item.

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What the hell...
As I said earlier Obscure features two player right throughout the game, and it is pretty well done. In fact, it is done better than most two player co op games, but it still has a couple of flaws. The main being that the camera does not always keep up with both players, but that does not happen to often. The real plus is that it is enjoyable in two player, working together is fun and to make any progress it is a must. Though when your teammate gets plucked from the ground by some beast on the roof you donít have to help him out, you should but it does provide a few laughs to let them cop it.

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Nice light.
The few problems that the game has donít cripple it but they do prevent it from becoming a classic. The first problem comes from the fixed camera, while not as bad as some games you do occasionally get attacked from an off screen monster. The second is the fact that it does not really matter which two characters you pick as they can all get the same jobs done. It may take a certain character a second longer to pick a lock but that is about it. Also the games puzzles do not exactly tax your brain, so you really donít need the on screen characters to tell you what to do next. Also the game is only around six to eight hours long. The only other real problem is the game does not vary too far from the same formula that has been used for nearly ten years now. If the game had developed its own ideas further instead of following the Resident Evil blueprint, it could have been a much better game.

The developers have done a pretty darn good job with the visuals in Obscure. The characters and environments do look quite nice however by far the most impressive part of the visuals are the light and shadows that the flashlights create; they really are done well. The only downer in the graphics department is the animations, they just seem too jilted and stiff, these teens donít move too well at all.

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Graphics are quite nice in places.
The sounds again are pretty good, from the opening track performed by Sum 41 the games sounds provide a fantastic atmosphere. From the fantastic gothic style orchestra playing to the freakish howls and growls of the off screen beasts are top notch. The only downside is the character voices, they really do get on your nerves after a while, but I guess it wouldnít be a survival game without bad voice acting.

Overall Obscure is a pretty solid game. The addition of two player co op is a cool new idea and the game does provide a pretty entertaining ride. On the negative side, we have pretty much seen everything the game has to offer in other games. So if you like your survival games this might be worth looking at, especially if you can find it cheap. If you donít like survival games then this won't be the game to change your mind.

Review By: Graham Darko

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GRAPHICSQuite good with the highlight being the superb use of shadows.
SOUNDSolid music score with great sound effects which adds atmosphere.
GAMEPLAYTwo player mode is fun, other than that we have seen it all before.
VALUEThree difficulty settings, plenty to unlock, cut scenes that differ depending on the characters you choose make up for the main adventure which only lasts 6 to 8 hours.
OVERALLA very solid game that never really challenges Resident Evil, but it is a bit of fun, if you can find it cheap give it a go or at least give it a rental.

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