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The Suffering - Ntsc

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#1 Barnolde


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Posted 24 March 2004 - 10:54 PM



Survival horror games have always been trying their hardest to scare games, whether it be through disturbing imagery or the shock factor of grotesque creatures jumping out at you. For the most part, the survival horror genre has done little on the side of variation, mostly thanks to the poor sales of any newcomer to the genre, that doesn’t have Resident Evil or Silent Hill in its name. It’s a shame that sometimes new and innovative games don’t sell, despite the overall quality of the gameplay experience. Despite the critical acclaim, most gamers aren’t willing to give new survival horror games a shot, which is disappointing.

Carnate Island, which is where the game takes place, and the prison there, Abbott State Penitentiary, has an uncanny resemblance to Alcatraz. The island is also home to a mansion (transformed into an asylum in the early 1900s) built in the 1800s, many years before the prison was built, which is also important to the Carnate’s evil history. The island’s past is less than cheerful, as it’s been home to more death than anyone would care to know, so you can tell that you’re in for an experience. The Suffering starts off with Torque, whom you play as, being led into a jail cell, apparently for killing your wife and children, although you don’t remember what happened. Something that is fairly unique and somewhat similar to GTA3 is that your character doesn’t talk. The developers wisely chose this to aid his physical appearance and to prevent gamers from making conclusions about him early in the game. Torque doesn’t have any specific nationality and seems to be Neanderthal-like, and the only accurate deduction you can make is that you play a human male. You only find out more about the story through hearing other people, which requires you to be attentive. Very soon after you’re put into your jail cell, people start dying, and you’re set free, and you begin your journey to uncover what exactly is going on. You don’t really know what’s going on as you start, but as you progress, the story is unraveled to you, piece by piece, which really makes you want to continue to play. As you progress, you’re given notes and journal entries, and characters who tell you more about you and the prison’s history.


This game is an action oriented survival horror game, which means that you won’t be fighting small weapon quantities and a poor camera. The game starts in third person view, but you can switch it to a first person view with the simple push of a button, although it doesn’t seem as refined as third person view. The camera is very good and does an excellent job of staying behind you, and out of your way, which is a very good thing, since you want to spend your time battling the enemies, not the camera. In order to dispense with the creatures who have taken an instant and strong dislike to you, you acquire many various weapons along the way, although you only start with a dagger-like prisoner made weapon, called a shiv. After all hell breaks loose, you start your escape from the incredibly creepy and foreboding looking prison. The level design is pretty good and believable for the most part, and you’ll usually never get lost. The prison, which was modeled after real life prisons and the other areas in which you venture to seem realistic enough to be real. Another gameplay element that could best be compared to Star Wars: Jedi Knight is the ability to choose your destiny, and as a result, your ending to the game. You have the choice on whether you want to be good or evil, by your decisions at certain spots in the game. The first decision you encounter is a prison guard who has a pistol, and your choices are to work with him to battle the creatures, or to merely kill him and take his pistol, and fend for yourself.

Since this is a survival horror game, you’d expect things to scare you, and The Suffering does not disappoint. The environments are very eerie, and have a distinct feel to them. A lot of the game has you in the dark, only with the light of your flashlight to aid you, which aids in the spine-tingling moments this game has to offer. The creatures in this game represent a different method of execution are uniquely designed, thanks to Stan Winston Studios, who also designed the monster in the movie “Predator”. The enemies will jump out at you, and you usually never know where they’re coming from. The most enemies you kill, the higher your sanity meter goes, and when it reaches full capacity, you can transform in a hideous and powerful creature for a short period of time. There are two types of puzzles in games, the frustrating nonsensical ones, which kill the gameplay, and the simple ones that don’t break up gameplay, and just require common sense, and thankfully, The Suffering contains the latter. A lot of the puzzles just involve you moving something or pushing a button, which is good, because they won’t have you racking your brain with a stupid puzzle trying to figure out how to morph a key into another shape in order to fit in the gem. The game’s action elements come into play with the focus on gun fights, but your ammo is not unlimited. Not only does the game contain creepy enemies, but there are disturbing things, such as dismembered corpses strewn about, which also aid in disturbing you. In a somewhat Eternal Darkness related move, the game contains odd and freaky things which will mess with your mind. Disturbing images also pop up on the screen at any time, and can startle you, because you’re not expecting them. These images are usually of something gruesome or of some hideous beast. The main time when they pop up is after you make a choice, good or evil, and the result is an image, which reflects your choice. Often, you’ll encounter flashbacks, which have you viewing sick and twisted things, which reflect the prison and the island’s past. Also, since Torque blacked out most of his past, there are elements of it, including his family, which come back, and really make you wonder what exactly is going on, as they tug at your sanity.


While not great, the graphics in this game are passable. I only imagine that if things had looked much better, that the game would have a more disturbing feel to it. However decent and somewhat disappointing the graphics may be, the sheer level of detail and variety of disturbing things more than make up for them. For the most part, the graphics are fine, but some things will seem cornier, than scary, because they don’t look as they could have, but they don’t hamper the overall experience. One unique feature that aids the gameplay experience is Torque’s prison outfit and how it changes. As your progress and fight more, you will be covered in various amounts of blood, similar to Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” and how he ended that movie cut up, beaten, bloody, and with his clothing ripped up beyond recognition. The prison offers a realistic feel, and it seems that no matter where you are, you always have an uncomfortable feeling of foreboding.


All of the audio in this game is impeccable, which aids to the immersive feel that this game offers. The voice acting is great, and very believable. You can tell from just the first few minutes that this game is not for kids, as the opening prisoner’s language is incredibly brash and brazen, although it seems to calm down as the game continues. Aside from the voice acting, the rest of the game’s audio is incredible in adding to the already impressive and terrifying atmosphere. The music is very minor, although when you’re in frenzied combat, it picks up tempo, and reflects the voracious acts that the enemies wish to inflict upon you. The sound effects that emanate from the bowels of the prison set the mood very well. When walking through a room, of pure silence, any other sounds that’s not your footsteps will make your hair stand on end. To hear the clang type sounds of the creatures with swords instead of limbs coming closer, you look as far as your flashlight can see, all around you, to try and see the seemingly invisible enemy who wants you dead. The sounds are downright creepy, as you know what’s coming, but you don’t really know where they’re coming from. A lot of times, you won’t even see anything there, as the sound does its best to increase the hair-raising experience. With the incredible sense of an evil premonition, the audio is invaluable to this game, and its best played with surround sound.


The default game controls are ones that I found uncomfortable, due to the joystick settings. Luckily, there are multiple settings to suit each person’s personal preference. The control preference I chose is as follows:

Left Thumbstick – Move
Right Thumbstick – Look
Click Right Thumbstick – Flashlight on/off
Dpad - Select weapon/item
A- Jump
B – Reload
X – Action/use
Y – Change into creature
Left Trigger – Throw/secondary weapon
Right Trigger – Primary attack
Black – Use health
White – Switch first and third person view


One easy was to extend the replay value was to make The Suffering contain three unique endings, which will have many gamers replaying to see the one that they desire. While you may not want to replay the game twice in succession, there’s a good chance, this will be something that you pick up again. The main game is around ten hours long, which is pretty good for the length of a survival horror game. There are lots of places to explore, and lots of things to read and examine, and replaying can enable you to see some things you may have missed on your first time through. Like all other Midway games, this game contains bonus features, which are a trailer for Psi-Ops, the making of The Suffering, and an in-depth look at a real prison. Unlike other Midway games, the bonus videos here are very long, and they also offer great insight into the game, as well as a real prison, which offered some inspiration for the game. With three different endings, and a two long, quality bonus videos, this is a game you’ll definitely come back to.


This game is a must for survival horror or action fans. Blending the weird sanity features of Eternal Darkness, the action gameplay of The Thing, and the disturbing imagery and characters of Silent Hill, this game is certainly no pushover in the survival horror genre. With an equal emphasis on action and horror, The Suffering is sure to please any fan of either genre. Lacking the annoying puzzles and camera angles that plague some games, the common sense used to make this game goes a long way. With pretty good graphics, exceptional sound and dialogue, great gameplay, scary and disturbing moments, The Suffering is a very well done game that will give your nerves a run for their money.

Gameplay - 9.0
Graphics - 8.2
Audio - 9.7
Controls - 9.3
Replay - 7.8
Overall - 8.6

#2 DuDeR MaN


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Posted 25 March 2004 - 12:11 AM

I'll have to check it out

#3 gir


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Posted 25 March 2004 - 06:01 PM

Yes! THis game does rock tha taco!

Just finished it 2 hours ago.

#4 zero G

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Posted 07 April 2004 - 01:01 PM

this game made me realize that horror in games can be so much better then movies
this is the way to go

#5 Mr. Blonde

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Posted 30 April 2004 - 01:30 PM

Good review. This is the best horror game on the Xbox period. The sound effects are amazing. That scary children crying sound effect ALWAYS made me freak out.

#6 alienhazard


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Posted 07 May 2004 - 05:02 PM

i love this game! i was kinda confused at the beginning because i thought those xombium pills were acid and that was what made him go insane and have flashbacks...

#7 deathx88


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Posted 29 May 2004 - 04:35 AM

cool cool.gif
i've been meaning to read this, and now that i have and now that i saw that people were saying its good, i'm going to check it out now

#8 death_driver_911


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Posted 10 June 2004 - 04:21 AM

i loved this game. i give it a 9/10. i just cant get past that part where you are on the brige and those monsters keep coming up, then u blow the tanks up, now im stuck.

#9 jdsun1


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Posted 09 March 2005 - 02:10 AM

Not as good as something like Silent Hill, but still a badass game nonetheless. Im waiting for Cold Fear now.

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