|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zombie Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Dodd
If it's Halloween, it's SAW. Or at least it has been since Jigsaw made his bloody debut five years ago. Five continually worse sequels later and Jigsaw has finally found his way to the gaming world. The films are known for clever traps, suspense, and myriad plot twists, all of which should translate extremely well to the virtual world. However, as a game based off a not-so-good, torture-porn movie franchise, SAW has a few hurdles to overcome. So how does SAW fare as a video game? Find out in my review.
Like any good horror game, SAW provides us with a very creepy world to explore. In it you play as a police officer from the SAW films, David Tapp, who has to traverse through the trap-laden Whitehurst Insane Asylum. The asylum's dark past of medieval tactics and patient abuse plays a big role in the game's creepy atmosphere, and there's a constant feeling of being watched, because you are in fact being monitored by Amanda Young (Tapp's apprentice). The asylum provides a decent variety of areas to explore, including a morgue, crematorium, theaters, libraries, offices, and a handful of other areas that all have an eroded, abandoned look, since the asylum hasn't been active for some time.
There aren't very many characters to interact with; other than Jigsaw and Amanda, there are six other characters Tapp must save throughout the game. Unsurprisingly, each character has a reason for why they've been placed in one of Jigsaw's traps, ranging from a corrupt CSI who framed an innocent person for a hit and run he committed to the journalist who coined the name "Jigsaw Killer" and framed Tapp for the murders. The story feels held down by the fact that you're stuck in one area, with limited characters, each of which provides some back-story. Unfortunately, the character models are uninspired, making them more than a little difficult to care about, and this is a problem since you're tasked with saving them from Jigsaw's traps.
Generic character models aside, the environments look really creepy. It would've been nice to be less confined since the game is completely linear. I'm not saying the game needs to let us explore every nook and cranny like Batman: Arkham Asylum, but being able to explore a bit would've helped make it feel less claustrophobic. Since there are very few characters in the game there's always a feeling of being alone and studied, like a rat in a maze, which is perfect for this type of game.
The environments are really the only things that shine in the total mess that is this game, especially when you have to fight. This feature was obviously tacked on as a poor way to break up the puzzle/trap gameplay, but it never succeeds as anything more than a nuisance because of the unpolished, frustrating controls. Besides the fact that SAW isn't the type of game that works well as a brawler, the button layout is dreadful. For example, to fire a weapon you have to hold down the left trigger on the game's controller and use one of the face buttons to fire. Who decided that was fun? In the end it doesn't really matter; when you discover that the game's idiotic AI can't fight back against a couple punches, it forces literally every weapon in the game into irrelevance.