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Second Sight Review

publisher: Codemasters
developer: Free Radical Design
genre: Other

PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 1GB HDD
ESRB rating: T

release date: Feb 15, 05
» All About Second Sight on ActionTrip

May 10, 2005
Branka "Nikerym" Todorovic

There were times when people were really hooked on Uri Geller bending spoons by sheer power of will (yeah... right) and David Copperfield making the Eiffel Tower, or whatever it was, disappear (I think that was his career he made disappear -Ed.). Times have changed, and Copperfield has gone onto marrying super models, while Uri Geller... To be honest, I have no idea what the hell happened to Uri Geller, but the Wachowski brothers' Matrix made it clear there was no damn spoon in the first place - at least that's what that baldheaded kid in the Buddhist attire said. (The same thing has been done before, in that Foghorn Leghorn cartoon, only with the worm at that time.) All this reminded me of a Zen story where a Zen Master asked his pupil about the nature of the rock lying on the road. Was that rock, the Master asked, in our story, outside the pupil's mind? When the pupil answered the rock was actually *in* his mind, the Master replied back, "Well then, it must be difficult for you to walk with such a heavy head." If you enjoyed this story, feel free to clap - but mind you, I want to hear the One Hand Clapping; we're talking Buddhism now (My head hurts -Ed.).

If you think bending spoons with the power of your mind is possible, thinking this is a skill you might be able to learn, and if you think learning other, weirder psychic skills is just one step from bending spoons... Well, in that case you may give Free Radical's Second Sight a shot. This action game allows you to demonstrate some rather powerful psychic powers and use them on your enemies. In case that fails, there's nothing a gun couldn't settle.

The game begins at a Medical Research Facility, where your character wakes up from a coma to discover that experiments have been conducted on him. He does not remember who he is and what he is doing there, but is determined to find out one way or another. In an attempt to leave the room, he discovers he has the power of telekinesis, allowing him to influence objects at a certain distance from him. He can use this power to flick the switches, hold and throw people and objects, even manipulate things through the glass. Of course, he is rather bewildered by all this, so he sets to discover the truth.

In order to unveil the events that had led to his being held at the research facility, he has to explore the building and look for clues. However, the ones who put him there obviously aren't happy to have him spying around, and they'll try to prevent him from learning the truth at all costs. Because of that, he needs to stick to the stealthy approach - at least until he gets the full grasp of his psychic abilities.

Second Sight consists of a series of missions, where the present and the past mingle in order to present you with the full story of what happened to the main character, scientist John Vattic. Vattic was the advisor to WinterICE, the purpose of which was to investigate the nature of the experiments conducted by an insane scientist (who else). Of course, Vattic went MIA, meaning he was held captive at the facility and used for experiments. While some missions focus on Vattic's efforts to escape the facility and discover the truth about the nature of experiments performed there, others focus on Vattic's training and the actual WinterICE mission, which took place six months before the game begins, where Vattic managed to infiltrate the complex and investigate on his own before he got captured. The concept of current events intertwining with prior events during the WinterICE mission brings a lot of interesting dynamics into the game. Vattic as the patient mostly relies on his psychic skills, using them to scare the guards away, or even injure them seriously. They also allow him to heal himself, as well as to blend with the environment by becoming invisible for a brief period of time. These missions require a lot of hiding, while the missions which take place during operation WinterICE, use a more conventional approach, making use of pistols, guns, and sniper rifles.

However, the new Vattic won't have to rely solely on his psychic powers. He will also be able to find a tranquilizer among other weapons that he can take from his dead enemies. That will make things easier, as psychic abilities cannot be used infinitely. Vattic has only limited reserves of energy needed to perform a certain power, so when he uses up all his reserves he has to wait until the meter fills up again. If that happens at an awkward moment, he has to rely on the weapons at his disposal. Vattic displays quite impressive self-defense abilities, being able to knock down his guards with several hits, which struck me as a bit odd for a weakened amnesiac. In any case, this makes the action segment of the game quite varied and interesting, as well as adjustable to your own preferences. Whether you're going to opt for the stealthy, or the more direct approach - the choice is yours. You should bear in mind the most effective results are achieved with the combination of the two.

The situation becomes far more intense (and dangerous) when Vattic encounters several enemies at once. He has several choices of what to do in situations like these - from shooting down all his enemies or attacking them with a powerful psi attack, to simply running away or trying to scare them off with levitating objects. Whatever he does, it is vital that he does it quickly, and then, if necessary, find suitable cover and wait until the alarms go off. Although combat is necessary in some situations, you are not encouraged to play a hero, trying to eliminate every single guard. They'll be coming at you until they finally wear you down, so you will have to hide eventually. As for the missions during the operation WinterICE, you will of course have no freaky psychic abilities, so forget about healing yourself or creating your astral projection. Vattic will have to rely on firearms, and being able to take cover and hide, as well as use the stealthy approach by hugging the wall and taking a peek around the corner. Being noticed means you'll be getting the sort of attention you definitely don't want, so you'd better watch your step.

What I liked about this game was the way these two types of missions were integrated, as well as the way the story progresses. While the story isn't Pulitzer Prize material, it ties the missions successfully, making the plot very coherent and enjoyable. The action segment is incorporated pretty well, especially the psychic powers, and the selection of weapons and powers is made easy by simply choosing them via the mouse scroll. The downside may be the fact that Vattic moves in a highly awkward manner, thus making aiming very difficult. The auto-target function is enabled, but the thing is, it does not always lock the closest target. For some reason, it is sometimes difficult to switch between targets depending on your current position, and this can really be frustrating at times.

I also found it difficult sometimes to position the character in front of an object I wanted to manipulate; at times, it's even difficult to hit the enemy because of the main character's awkward movement. On the other hand, the camera usually covers the field very well, but it also has a tendency of wandering off in the most inappropriate moment. This does not happen too often so it isn't much of a nuisance. First-person view is enabled, but forget I just said that, because you won't be using it at all.

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7.7   Good

Well-developed and intriguing story, the missions are incorporated in a satisfying manner, some useful and visually appealing psychic abilities, a nice selection of weapons, overall good level design;

Game might be too easy, dodgy AI, awkward movement of your main character, the interaction with the environment is sometimes difficult, problematic auto-targeting system.


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