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Deadly Premonition (Xbox 360) artwork

Deadly Premonition (Xbox 360) review


"The biggest draw Deadly Premonition has going for it is its setup being largely influenced by the TV show Twin Peaks. Hilariously, that's also the reason why it was delayed, because media outlets noticed the huge similarities back when the game was originally called..... wait for it..... Rainy Woods. Apparently, the developers didn't do much to change things with the delay, since you can still see a large resemblance; DP begins as Francis York Morgan, a special agent for the..."



The biggest draw Deadly Premonition has going for it is its setup being largely influenced by the TV show Twin Peaks. Hilariously, that's also the reason why it was delayed, because media outlets noticed the huge similarities back when the game was originally called..... wait for it..... Rainy Woods. Apparently, the developers didn't do much to change things with the delay, since you can still see a large resemblance; DP begins as Francis York Morgan, a special agent for the FBI, arrives in the small town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of a young woman, who was found dead in the forest. During the course of the investigation, you'll come to realize how much of an oddball this FBI agent really is: he has unusual visions, keeps chatting with a guy named Zach, despite being nowhere in sight, very selective about his choice of coffee, amazingly composed during disturbing moments, and reminisces about old movies on car trips. He also gets to know the inhabitants of the town on more than one occasion, like Sigourney, who's always worrying about her pot getting cold, Polly, an old hotel manager that thinks York is flirting with her thanks to hard of hearing, and Harry, who looks like Psycho Mantis in a wheelchair, making his assistant talk to everyone in riddles.

While I wouldn't call the game's plot excellent, it does keep you interested, thanks in part to wanting to know who the mysterious Raincoat Killer is. It's also shockingly consistent, especially later when things get way too crazy and absurd, you'll still think, "Wow, that makes sense." For a while, though, I thought I was genuinely enjoying the story, until it dawned on me that I was just glad I had a chance to stop playing the game whenever a lengthy cutscene popped up. Why? Deadly Premonition's play mechanics are garbage and screwed up from the start. When you finally take real control of York, you're recovering from a car crash on the way to Greenvale, and must make your way out of the dark forest. During the trek, you come across a dog who's killed seconds before you find it. This is more or less the height of horror for Deadly Premonition... Eventually, you'll encounter a zombie in a small cabin, and the game then explains how to attack with your gun.

This is where it completely goes downhill with the play mechanics.

As you fill the undead with lead, you'll notice a symbol below the gun icon on the lower right side of the screen. The infinity symbol. Yes, your default weapon has infinite ammo, and before you say anything, it's also like that on the Hard difficulty setting. So right off the bat, the fear of running out of bullets against a legion of creepy zombies is thrown right out the window. "I bet encounters with enemies become harder, later!" you shout. Nope, not really. For most of Deadly Premonition, all you get are the same zombies. Some have guns, but they take forever to fire and usually miss. Just picture that: you're fighting incompetent zombies with infinite ammo. That's quite the combo. Sure, you'll get caught off guard once or twice, but nothing life-threatening. Shoot, you can easily run past them in some instances! What's more irritating is that you have to battle the undead in such dark and dreary locations that all look the same and drag on with dozens of rooms and hallways, some of which have simple switch-pushing solutions. This is why I'm always so elated when a long cutscene plays.

Now, there is another standard enemy which makes its debut towards the end of the second episode, or what I'd like to call The Beginning of the Dark Age. It happens as you're roaming the tunnels below an art gallery, and as you pass a ventilation shaft, you start hearing creepy noises. You're freaked out, but excited at the same time, thinking, "This can't be... a new enemy? Awesome!" Then she finally makes her appearance: a zombie that crawls on both walls and ceilings, and also blends like a chameleon. You battle this thing for several minutes in a corridor before ending its life, and while it was more repetitive than fun, it was at least something different. However, that will be the one and only time you'll feel this small form of enjoyment. In what would be a very masochistic move on their part, the developers decided you always need to fight them in groups, one after another. This means you'll be trapped in a barricaded corridor, fighting one, defeating it, moving a few feet forward, and repeating the same dance two or three more times. Every. Single. Time. It. Happens. Your heart will sink whenever you step foot into a hallway with vents, because you know the torture that lies ahead.

But enough about repetitive combat, let's talk about repetitive travel! You're always driving your car (which seems to have the smallest gas tank ever) from one destination to the next, and in fact, I'll go as far as saying this takes up half your playthrough. The developers made sure that not one event can take place in one spot. This would have been slightly bearable if the two locations you're coming and going from were close, but most are usually on opposite sides of the map. It doesn't help that you drive in a painfully slow car; one side quest upgrades your vehicle, but even after the improvements, it feels like you're going nowhere fast as you drive past various trees and mountains. A fast travel option would have meant the world in Deadly Premonition. This is especially aggravating on fetch side quests that aren't worth the rewards. Normally, you'll just get a trading card, a new suit, or a bigger bag to store all the useless junk you're carrying around. It's rare that you get something "useful" (i.e. game-breaking), like obtaining a sub-machine gun with infinite ammo after killing about 15 zombies. I wish I was joking with that last statement.

It's horrible that these two repetitive factors are working together, since it creates the unfortunate experience where you can play for four hours straight, yet feel like you've only accomplished an hour's worth. It's bad, but I didn't realize how bad it was until I tried coming back after completing the game. I kept trying to hold off on it, because I was having flashbacks, and when I finally turned on the system, I decided to browse the Game Marketplace section for a few minutes... then got up and wondered if I should actually start the game. That's how much the play mechanics sucked. If it wasn't for the quirky plot that got more weird and out there as the game reached its climax, I don't know how I would have responded to Deadly Premonition. It's the type of title you'd rather watch than play, and with there being many video upload sites available, I'd strongly recommend you do that, instead.

Rating: 3/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 11, 2010)

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aschultz posted June 15, 2010:

Lots of comma splices here. Last sentence of P1, second of P2. And P2-2nd sentence swerves too quickly to P2-3rd sentence. Is fighting for the plot to make sense in your mind too much effort?

And I also feel the review may dwell a bit too much on what went wrong when it should've been more to the point. This is tricky. We need to emphasize what sucks, and sometimes in real life we need to repeat ourselves. But have you ever been around the guy who seemed to complain cleverly at first but then get tiresome? Reviews can be like that too, going to the well once too often. As a result, some funny lines are buried. "I wish I didn't have to say this" or "see what I mean" hedges can get out of control in essays. They tend to work once, but used too often, they grow stale. An example is near the end: "That's how much the play mechanics sucked." followed by a good observation that this game was made for video playthrough sites.

This happens in the previous paragraphs too--the main sense of dread being having to go through the zombie grind again, which you're assured of passing but which'll take a while. The good stuff seems buried behind lashing out with complaints and that's a bit of a shame.

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