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SAW II: Flesh & Blood
Developer: Zombie Studios
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Horror
Release date: 10.19.2010
Had the serial killer and self-affirming psychopath Jigsaw from the Saw series forced any of the characters stuck in his trap-laden madhouse to play this game, they would have gladly opted for death. Saw II: Flesh and Blood developed by Zombie and published by Konami is a nightmare for all the wrong reasons.
Your first objective involves the unpleasant task of cutting into your face in order to remove a key hidden underneath your eye in an attempt to escape the device strapped on your head. This and ninety percent of the rest of the game requires you to hold down on the left stick and press the A button a couple times. Make it free and you're off to explore the dimly lit hallways and dilapidated buildings containing four puzzles, three enemies, two traps, and eight levels.

The first kind of puzzle is a number hunt. You look around the room, find a number, and put it into a nearby combination lock to open a door. The second type of puzzle is aligning like-colored circuits on various fixed grids by rotating individual wires with the L or R trigger to open a door. Another puzzle you'll come across has you playing a simplified version of Tiger Electronic's Lights Out, usually in order to open a door. The final variation on the puzzle theme has you trying to open a door by playing a game of matching on television sets hanging from the ceiling or stuck in the floor.

You walk in more or less of a straight line from puzzle to puzzle, each solution opening up new doors. Occasionally you'll have to do battle with some of the victims of Jigsaw's twisted game. One type of enemy will take a swing at you with a bat or a crutch and the screen will suggest a button to press. I recommend pressing that button. Another bad guy has a cage of spikes on his head and has his arms bound behind his back. He will run around trying to ram his head into you. But you must fend for yourself using the environment because there is no attack button. Working in your favor are answering machine next to all the ?victims? giving out clues that warn them against such thing as slamming a cage made of spikes strapped to head into a wall might be bad. On floor and walls you will find hints like X marks the spot and big red arrows. Luckily for you, bad guys don't pay any attention to this as they repeatedly ram their head into you and everything else while yelling, ?Why aren't you helping me?? The final type of enemy you will have to face are one of two dirty cops who shoot six bullets at you while you hide behind a pillar. You have the opportunity to run forward every time they reload, get close enough and for some reason they stop shooting at you and run away.

In order to get from puzzles to bad guys, you have to avoid randomly placed booby traps in doors or floors by quickly pressing the correct button that appears. There are a few doors that require you to pick the lock with a nail. Don't have a nail; don't worry move three steps to the left and open a conveniently placed desk?every single time. The lock picking was one of the more enjoyable parts of the game, at least the first few times. Gears rotated in a keyhole as you navigated the camera through gaps, but it never changed or got any more difficult and you had to do it all the time.

The only other actions involved in this game is pressing the A button to squeeze through cracks, crawl through holes, or walk across narrow beams. I died more times trying to make it across those beams then I did at any other point in the game, even when I could reach the other side and safely jump down from the same height.

There is a story line in this game involving you, the son of a dead cop, trying to save six other people. They are each trapped in a torture device design specifically for their crimes, like the vice cop stuck in a vice. Solve a puzzle and set them free as you march forward picking up case files and audio tapes discovering you and your dad's connection to these people, all the while keeping out an eye for hidden puzzle pieces. Although I had a harder time trying to get my guy to pick up a puzzle piece sitting on the floor then I did trying to solve any of the actual puzzles in the game.

The over the shoulder camera consistently gets stuck, your character will go through objects or walk over thin air. There were times when I would save people and be in a cut scene, but the puzzle I just solved had a time limit. It would expire, killing the person I just saved and sending me floating through space until I reloaded the last checkpoint.
The graphics lack any depth or fluidity. You'll hit someone with an axe and it will stick three feet above their head. The game takes place in an abandon hotel/chemical factory train station. I'm not really sure which because it all looked the same, except sometimes there are more pipes or tipped barrels. Most the time it's just really dark so you'll be walking around with a flashlight attached to you chest most the game. Whenever you fail to save someone you get a gruesome cut scene, usually ending with blood spilling out from somewhere other then where it should be.

There is a fairly chilling sound creating a intense atmosphere that is repeated throughout the entire time you play the game. It kind of sounds like the Halloween theme played on a theremin. The voice acting is choppily edited and rarely syncs up; same with most sound effects. Also, almost every sentence is started with the f word. Outside of that the only things that you will hear are electricity crackling, running water, or footsteps.
replay value
Please don't play this game the first time. I collected 3/4th of the achievements and puzzle pieces on my first run through without even looking for them. The game saves your puzzle times and I averaged between thirty seconds and two minutes on every puzzle. Here's a spoiler. Everyone dies. At the end you are given a choice, freedom or join Jigsaw and his evil plans. But you're going to have to wait for Saw III to unravel that mystery.
bottom line
This is a four to five hour game filled with hypocrisies and contradictions. The main protagonist is a convicted sex offender who by the end of the game murders more people then Jigsaw probably ever will. Everyone hates you and calls you names while begging you to save their life. These are all bad people acting like jerks and behaving idiotically. You would let these people die, but you don't want to have to revert back to your last save point. The entire game really is nothing more then holding forward and occasionally pressing A. I found that it was quicker to systematically try all possibilities on a combination then it was to just look for the numbers, neither one actually being difficult. I don't think anyone expected this to be a great game, but this one is barely functioning. The worst part is there is potential buried in this series if it were to play more like Trilobyte's 7th Guest with its complex puzzles and genuine scares, instead of the travesty of banality that is this game. If you really love the Saw movies, just watch them again.
Review by: Alex Pierrelee‏
Posted: 11/30/1999
Replay Value:
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