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7 Sins (PlayStation 2) artwork

7 Sins (PlayStation 2) review

"7 Sins too many."

I get the idea behind hentai games -- you'd need to be pretty dense not to. I understand that it's like getting a girl naked in the real world: you need to plough more time and effort than you may feel is worthwhile into both before the first bra hits the floor.

Now try to imagine a Westernised hentai title being released on a platform with a markedly strong morale backbone. Like the PS2 and its sometimes-enforced anti-smut laws (it's only okay if Sony break it themselves a la God of War). Perhaps hentai prides itself on walls of text disguised as deep character development snugly tucked in between raping girls continuously until they love you for it, but that's not how we do things here in the West! Maybe instead we'd use slews of mini-games. And, of course, despite the game being illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, no actual nudity would ever actually be shown. Sure, the title would be peddled as interactive smut, but gratuitous grinding in silky underwear would be what our audience is clearly after.

It might surprise you to learn that such a game exists. It certainly surprised our very own senior editor, Jason Venter, who, shocked and bewildered at this EU-only, porn-laced PS2 game, spent a good hour pleading with me to cover it. It's not only true, but gives inane justification for my dealings with 7 Sins without bringing my outstanding gentlemanly reputation into dispute.

Three years later, and here we are. You're welcome, Jason.

7 Sins places you in control of an ambitious horn-dog who vies to take control of a thriving city using raging libido as his primary weapon. Along the way, a brave attempt to give the game's title some form of meaning is offered in that, to get ahead in life, you must employ different variations of the biblical sins to forge yourself a path to the top. Though, mostly lust. Lust gets used a lot.

Your perverted path leads you to such lofty haunts as an underground prostitution lair and a seedy nightclub, but you start your adult adventure as a sales assistant in a swanky, fashionable store. You can use your time here to hawk expensive diamonds, suck up to the middle-aged boss, make yourself some funds by selling shoes, clothes and perfume or try to nail everyone you see.

One of these things is not like the others.

In order to get with the ladies, you need to raise your relationship levels with your target. In a lucid moment of clarity, developers, Monte Cristo, decided to go with some sense of realism and made all the females in the store unbearably annoying, as any man who has suffered shoe shopping with a girlfriend can attest to. This doesn't make wooing them easy; interacting with your chosen girl raises various stress bars such as anger and lust -- the more you get turned on or frustrated by a girl, the higher these bars will rise. You need to blow off steam and lower these before they break you, which sees you run screaming from the store. This cowardly action forces huge relationship demotions in the eyes of anyone who sees you crack under the pressure.

You calm yourself down by balancing sins with good deeds. Your bars will fall when you undertake certain sins; sexual frustration can be cured by watching the hidden camera snuck away in the changing rooms or by sniffing panties, while you can tone down rage by swearing at random window shoppers or beating up display mannequins. However, you only have a small reservoir of sins you can commit at one time, forcing you to balance the delicate moral axis by doing good deeds, like tidy up a messy perfume display stand or feed the store's tropical fish. This locks the player in a repetitive and unbreakable cycle: chat up customer until one of your bars starts to fill > commit sins to bring bar back down to a manageable level > perform good deeds to restock your sins > chat up customer until one of your bars starts to fill. Over and over again.

Some sins play out smoother than others. If you want to decrease your nervous energy, you can commit the sin of Pride and show off your singing voice to the crowds, which does nothing more than launch you into song. Other sins will throw you into a mixed bag of mini-games... eventually. 7 Sins suffers from horrendous load times that pop up at the most unexpected of places.

Wrath-inspired games invite you to relax by urinating on the store's potted plants, leading to a mock FPS cut-away where you have to direct a steaming stream of piss onto a scampering colony of bugs that call the greenery home. If washing away creepy-crawlies isn't enough, (accurate droplets reward you with a message of HEADSHOT!), you can engage in slap-fights with anyone you don't like the look of by making precision stops on a growing power bar. Grab yourself some sleep, if you can find a quiet spot, and slip into a number of dream worlds that have you leap sheep over a huge buzzsaw with DDR-like timed button presses, chase nubile, half-naked girls around with a censored stamp, or partake in a Benny Hill sketch, where you're trapped in an enclosed space and must evade the attention of a bevy of females.

Despite them all controlling with the grace of a falling concrete donkey, some of these games can be enjoyable in a surreal way. Not enjoyable enough to make up for the horrendous load times and nowhere near enjoyable enough to warrant the unapologetic rehashing that will see you play these games until the sheen of urinating on bugs has worn off and the awkwardness of dodgy hit detection kicks in but... if I was meant to end this paragraph on a positive, I've forgotten what it was. The sad truth about the mini-games is that it's much kinder on your time and sanity if you employ the sins that play out on-screen. It's easier to see your character instantly sin than get shepherded off to yet another 'Now Loading' screen to await another eternity.

Even when you finally win over your girl of choice (you're not limited to one: you can bang a pair of rich brats, a tubby, snooty shopper, a fellow sales assistant or some hideous hag who later turn out to be a guy who you can still bang from behind while yourself wearing lingerie and stockings), 7 Sins plays by the Magic Underwear™ rule. You and your enamored girl (or guy in make-up and ridiculous breast surgery) can steal away to one of the fitting rooms to get to know each other better. Reach the highest relationship level and she'll start to drop the freak, offering you sex in the store's window for all to see or oral in the boss's office with her tucked away under the table. There's lots of grinding and groaning and it's all made possible by the Magic Underwear™ which allows for full sex without ever being removed. That, or this is a game built heavily around dry humping.

And do all these sexual shenanigans play out, you ask? Aside from sandwiched in between more bloody loading screens? I'm glad you didn't actually ask that question because, if you had, you would be an idiot.

Sex plays out in more mini-games. Ones like uncovering 'G-Spots' to clear a shaded screen so you can see your only-nearly naked coupling simulating sex, or one where you trace a feminine silhouette as accurately as you can to improve your performance. This watered-down act is repeated in such a relentless overture of senseless recycling that you will soon bore of the activity.

You will soon bore of having sex with (almost) naked women.

You'll be surprised just how quickly 7 Sins transcends its novelty and wanders headfirst into bafflement. I appreciate some of the ideas behind the game, but I don't appreciate the cut-and-paste sameness that runs throughout. I don't get the mammoth loading screens when the graphics can be labelled serviceable at best. I don't get why, when an 18+ grade had already been slapped on, they still refuse to go that last yard and drop some underwear. 7 Sins baits in people looking for interactive porn like Jason Venter baits me in with games to review. There's promises of grandeur but what you're ultimately left up with is a vague sense of shame and a lot of wasted hours.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 06, 2008)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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