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March 31, 2004
Forbidden Siren - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
12/3/2004SonySony Japan1MA15+Hard
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Check out the awesome graphics.
Forbidden Siren is a survival horror game developed by Sony Japan which has achieved over 130,000 sales in Japan, and with sales figures like that (it was expected to sell around 70,000) a PAL release was soon confirmed with America to follow next month. Time to celebrate as we can play one of the most atmospheric games developed and set in Japan. Well, there would be celebrations except for one massive blunder by Sony - the Dubbing. Still, there are some unique and interesting ideas within the game which may appeal to some.

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Trapped in the corner.
The storyline for Forbidden Siren is fairly impressive. Prepare to become ensnared in the nightmare that has overwhelmed Hanyuda, the Japanese village which now finds itself awash with evil and encircled by a sea of blood. There was no warning, no explanation, in the blink of an eye the village became a gruesome hell on earth and almost all of its inhabitants met with a fate that is surely worse than death... Almost, but not all. There are few survivors, each now embroiled in their own personal fight for survival. Immersed in a world of fear, mystery and suspense these survivors begin a desperate search for a way out and only through their eyes, as they evade the vile creatures that yesterday were their friends and neighbors, will we begin to understand the macabre recent events.

This game is played in a similar vein as most other survival horror games with plenty of areas to explore, enemies to attack, or more often avoid, and weapons to use. What makes this game so interesting is that you will switch between 10 different characters caught up in the horror that surrounds the village. Each character, from the inquisitive high school student Kyoya to the murderous old hunter Akira, is in the village for different reasons and by understanding their past and their reactions to the evil that continues to spread around them, the mystery begins to unravel.

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Damn! My wife.
Another interesting aspect is that the game will see you traveling back and forwards through time with these characters. Some sections will be replayed at a different time, possibly a different day, and with a different character. It's an interesting concept that becomes a little tiresome, but allows the sight jacking (more on that in a second) to work a little better as you progress.

Sight-jacking is one aspect of Forbidden Siren that promises a lot, but fails to deliver. This is the characters’ ability to ‘sight-jack’ or steal the viewpoints of other characters and enemies in their immediate surroundings. This extraordinary observational power can be both a curse and a blessing as it enables character’s to predict an enemy’s movements and actions, but renders the user momentarily immobile and defenseless. When using this mode several colored crosses appear over people, blue represents yourself, green your friends, and red enemies. The problem is that the sight jacking is almost pointless unless you know the layout of the maps.

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Slash him.
Another niggle with the title is the need to use menus through the triangle button. Even in one of the earliest missions you need to get keys to start a car. You must open a menu to pick up keys, then turn on the flashlight to see the car keyhole, then to insert the key, then to get in the car, then to put key in the ignition, then to start the car and so on. It becomes tiresome when most could be handled by a single action button.

Pushing the boundaries of graphical realism is a phrase that suits Forbidden Siren perfectly. The characters are as realistic as any ever seen in a video game, while the animation is still a little on the rough side. Backgrounds are splendid and even with fogging in many areas of the game it never looks like a game cheating with the graphics. Visual effects such as lighting (particularly from the flashlights) is impressive, and the video/movie style presentation never becomes tiresome. The frame rate is not perfect, the cut scenes have a deliberate choppy effect, but the game is never a problem to play as a result.

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Very atmospheric graphics.
And now for the most aggravating aspect of this title, the sound. Firstly the good. It must be noted that the music in the game is minimal, but extremely effective in creating an atmosphere while the sound effects can only be described as excellent. Gunshots will make you jump, screams will make you tremble and, well, you get the idea. The problem with this title is the horrific voice-overs. Gone are the Japanese voices from their game and in its place is one of the most annoying British voice-overs ever done in a video game. It just doesn't sit well when a game set in Japan with Japanese characters doesn't include an option for the original language with subtitles. I'm sorry but this is not acceptable.

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One of your friends.
Unfortunately, Forbidden Siren just isn't what it should have been. The entire game is an insult to the Japanese culture with some of the worst dubbing ever seen. Sure, some people may not like reading subtitles with Japanese voices, but for god's sake give us a choice in future. The sight jacking is another aspect that should have been modified dramatically prior to release as without prior knowledge of the maps it becomes almost pointless. Still if you're after something very different then this game may be worth a look, but don't expect anything up to the standards of Konami's Silent Hill games.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSDark, moody and Japanese. A very nice looking package overall.
SOUNDDubbing, horrendous. Music, moody. Effects, solid. Get the picture?
GAMEPLAYThe sight jacking is a nice idea, but it doesn't work well enough.
VALUENot the best horror/adventure game seen, and there are better.
OVERALLI'm sorry but Forbidden Siren just didn't do it for me. The dubbing is simply horrendous. This game is full of Japanese people, in Japanese locations, but with British accents. It ruins the game. The sight jacking also fails to work unless you know the levels exactly.

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