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November 25, 2005
The Suffering: Ties That Bind - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
26/10/2005Red AntSurreal Software1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
530KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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The hero pose...
2004 was a year that saw the return of Midway to the elite in the video games industry once more. The company was behind many solid titles including PSI-OPS, NBA Ballers and a sleeper hit by the name of The Suffering. The Suffering was a brutal shooter with one of the nastiest storylines and gameplay seen in quite some time. The game was quite a popular title at but for one reason or another was a game that we never got around to reviewing. Now the sequel, titled The Suffering: Ties that Bind, has arrived and here is our review.

The original game featured Torque who was in a Baltimore prison for the murder of his own family. Through a series of flashbacks and hallucinations you never really knew if Torque was guilty or not. If you finished the original game then the game will check your memory card and start the story depending on which ending you got. The game starts out again in the prison but it is not long before you are on the mean streets of Baltimore. The main story revolves around a character named Caleb Blackmore, a guy who seems to be involved in the murder of Torques family. The game gets pushed along by a few cut scenes but much of the story is learned by reading various files and notes you find around town. There are quite a few twists and turns along the way but the story does get a bit muddled at times.

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Keep blasting...
The game plays like your standard third person shooter with plenty of shooting to be done. The gunplay in Ties that Bind is pretty solid. Torque can now only carry two weapons at one time from a selection of rifles, shotguns, machine guns and rocket launchers. He can carry three projectile weapons at once though, so the Molotovís and grenades come in quite handy. The enemies on offer will be familiar to those that played the original game, as most have returned along with a few new variations. The enemies [created by Stan Winston no less - Dave] are quite freaky in this game especially the characters that have syringes for eyes. There are only a handful of simple puzzles to complete and the odd mission where you have to follow or protect another character to break up the gun play. One cool feature of ties that bind is Torques morality meter, if Torque kills innocent people or doesnít help them his morality meter goes low and he receives more weird hallucinations. Also once his morality meter is full he turns into a giant monster with a blade for an arm and can slash most enemies down real quick. Being a good guy in this game actually makes it a bit harder as well, because when Torque changes to a monster while helping people he does not have the range of attacks as opposed to the nasty Torque. When the game really clicks it is an absorbing title, it is great to fire bullets at an enemy only to discover it was a hallucination and there is nothing there at all.

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Stan Winston's creatures!
The Suffering: Ties that Bind has a few flaws that stop this from being a great title. The first thing that really annoyed me was the camera, it moves at an awkward pace and often leaves you being attacked by an enemy you canít see. This is further amplified by the fact that it doesnít take the enemy AI long to take you down. The game does get quite difficult and can prove quite frustrating as the difficulty meter is always changing one minute it is quite easy the next it is bloody hard. Another way the game becomes more difficult then it needs to be is the fact that you canít carry any health supplies with you. So if you get low on health you have to avoid fights and looks for health pick ups. Also the weapons lack any real punch and the few that do often have limited ammo. So you are stuck with weak pistols and rifles.

When Torque turns into a monster he sustains heaps of damage quickly and when you return to human form you normally have little health left. Playing as the monster is definitely not as satisfying as it should be. It is also annoying that by playing as a good guy you get limited in the number of attacks at your disposal. If you're squeamish keep in mind that the game is rated mature for a reason, it is a graphically gory game and the language is as bad as you will hear on a console. This will certainly turn some players off the game, and is overdone just a touch. Ties that Bind is also quite linear and scripted. If you come to a locked door you usually just have to wait for something to explode through it. Considering the game left the prison setting behind for the city the linear nature of the game is disappointing. Finally Ties that Bind doesnít have any multiplayer options which is a little bit disappointing.

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The game is pretty bloody!
Graphically the game looks pretty decent indeed. Taking the game from just a prison to the city of Baltimore has added quite a bit of life to the visuals. All of the characters are nicely detailed. Torques flashlight shows some nice lighting and shadow effects. All of these elements add up to make the ties that bind a creepy looking game and give it a great grisly atmosphere.

The sounds also do a solid job of keeping the player on his game. The strange creatures that litter this game all make suitably weird noises. The voice acting is pretty solid as are some of the gun effects. When you are just walking around it is pretty quiet though. Further atmosphere is added by the inclusion of Dolby Pro Logic II support in this game.

The Suffering: Ties that Bind is a solid game that is certainly worth getting if you enjoyed the original. Its story and characters will be enough to push you through to the end of the game. For those that have not played the original it might still be worth a look. It is not a great game but it does offer some enjoyment as well as a few thrills along the way. Once again Midway has delivered another solid title to the market.

Review By: Graham Darko

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSGood looking characters and a creepy looking world gives the game a nice graphical edge.
SOUNDVoice acting is ok, while the freaky sound effects are top notch.
GAMEPLAYPoor camera angles bring it down a bit and the game is heavily scripted and linear. Still itís not a bad shooter.
VALUEReasonable length. Multiple endings and hidden journals and items make this a solid purchase.
OVERALLThe Suffering Ties That Bind is a solid game with a few flaws that stop it from being a must have. Hopefully the third time will be a charm.

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