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Review: Deadly Premonition: The Director's CutAccess Games Rising Star Games PS3 PS Move Deadly Premonition
Developer: Access Games
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Release Date: April 30, 2013
ESRB: M for Mature
Back in 2010, a game sneaked onto retail stores across America with very little advertisement. Deadly Premonition, which was originally titled Rainy Woods, had been in development for years. Part of what took it so long to release was the fact that it was far too much like the television series Twin Peaks. After sorting through all that, the game’s launch for $20 went mostly unnoticed, until a few reviews came in. People quickly realized the game was something special and bought up copies. It was one of those great moments when word of mouth helps far more than any advertising campaign could.
Although the game had come to both systems in Japan, the rest of us who wanted to play simply had to have a 360 - or willingness to import the Japanese version. Since many were not willing do that, a great deal of the gamer population were left out from experiencing a game that was deemed quirky and incredibly strange. That is, until now with Access Games bringing Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut to PS3. This time it’s a PS3 exclusive and includes upgraded textures, tweaked control scheme, easier difficulty, and a few other changes.
At its core, the game is still the same experience that users had on 360 a few years back. And yes, it’s still as much of a trip as it was then. Players assume the role of FBI agent Francis York Morgan - we’ll just call him York - who has entered into a small town to investigate the murder of a young woman. Once in the town you discover a great cast of unusual characters and try to get to the bottom of things before more people are killed. From there, you uncover secrets of the town and its residents which make this far more than a simple murder mystery.
One of the greatest things about Deadly Premonition is the story. It stands so strongly because there is a great mysterious narrative working right from the start, but that’s not all the game has to offer. There are also the stories of the townsfolk. Most of these are unnecessary to uncover, but you can learn about them through copious sidequests - or creepily stalking them through town and looking in their window. Each person has their own distinct personality and problems which makes it interesting to spend time with them instead of your case.
Although the story has some stumbling blocks, it is not fair to say the game is “so bad it’s good”. Well, it could be, depending on your perspective. The main reason the game is attributed such a status is due to the visuals and character movements. Both of these aspects were pretty bad in 2010 and still are now. Of course, The Director’s Cut has gone and upgraded the textures for characters but it still leaves the dramatic and awkward overacting of each character’s actions. Still, the story is a great draw and can easily keep players invested.
Gameplay consists of a lot of detective footwork. As York, you must speak with all the possible suspects (basically everyone in the town of Greenvale) as well as work with the town’s police force. This is where the majority of sidequests are opened up and although none are necessary it is highly recommended to play at least a few. Some of the greatest joys in playing are experiencing the full breadth of this strange town, after all. Beyond this, there are also requisite shooting levels which put you in an area with copious zombie-like monsters with an affinity for limbo. You’ll have to search for items, unlock doors, and sometimes fight swarms of enemies at a time to get through.
Luckily or unluckily, The Director’s Cut has changed the difficulty in the game. In fact, there is now only one and it is set to easy. This may annoy some out there but it actually seems like a better choice. I say this due to the fact that these shooting levels are the least fun of the entire game. They drag and add very little to the experience beyond annoyance. Getting through them faster is a boon in my book, although it is a shame the option to play on a higher difficulty isn’t available in any capacity.
One change to the game was to make it more modern in regards to shooting controls. It may be, but still not modern enough for what many will be used to. Although York doesn’t have tank controls, his feet remain planted in one spot when you’re aiming. That aspect of shooters has definitely not retained popularity in recent years. Because of this, it still seems likely many players will find the controls antiquated despite their change from the 2010 release.
Depending on who you ask, good graphics are either necessary or simply a nice perk in video games. For me, graphics mean very little. Yes, they can be gorgeous but they don’t have to be in order to offer up an excellent experience. Deadly Premonition never looked great and in many ways seemed like a lost Dreamcast or PS2 game. Still, it had some charm to it that helped smooth the edge of the “old” graphics. What The Director’s Cut has tried to do is add higher resolution textures where applicable. This is most noticeable with York who is now a slicker-looking version of himself.
The rest of the world is given similar attention, but to much lesser effect. It’s a matter of preference, but to me, many of the backdrops look no better. When they do, it’s only a small increase, and still much lower in quality than what most are expecting of games so near the end of this generation. No, graphics don’t make the game but with such small increase from before it would have been better to simply leave them alone and put more development time into another aspect.
For example, why couldn’t they have fixed the audio balancing? When Deadly Premonition first came out many made fun of the messed up audio levels. For example, one scene showed two characters talking at a slightly quiet level while the music blared over them. These instances weren’t fixed but somehow even more audio problems were introduced into the game. On many occasions voices will echo for no good reason. On others, characters speaking will have their words completely garbled. Sometimes, the audio of voices drops dramatically to a whisper or increases with no discernible cause. New players may think the game was always this janky but I can assure you it was never this bad.
Another hugely unfortunate issue plagues this game and it is a poor framerate during certain sections. The original game definitely had instances of this, but there are more dispersed within The Director’s Cut. Although some gamers may not be able to notice small drops, many which occur in this game are definitely perceptible by those usually unaware of a game’s framerate. This has made some complain the game is entirely unplayable. While that’s not true, it adds annoyance when it crops up and pulls you out of the experience. Rising Star Games says a patch is on the way so hopefully it will fix some of the most glaring issues.
It’s a shame all these issues are here because otherwise the game could be described as the best version available. Simply put, it isn’t, though, and the 360 copy should be purchased instead unless you only have a PS3 or are a die hard Deadly Premonition fan. Even so, there is very little new content added. Basically, it consists of some new cutscenes are peppered between chapters. There are no new missions or battles, although DLC is on its way.
For all of the issues that have been injected into the game, Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut still contains a monumental game at its core. Everything comes together to make a town that feels alive with interesting characters. When it launched in 2010, I determined it to be my favorite game of the entire year. Unfortunately, this edition does not hold up to that initial amazement, but there is definitely good content still found within. If you’re willing to give it a try despite the technical stumbles then you’re in for an incredibly interesting game.
+ Tons of exploratory freedom through Greenvale
+ Cast of lively characters you want to know more about
+ Main storyline serves as a great murder mystery
- Even more audio issues than before
- New textures aren’t particularly helpful
- Frame rate drops occur more regularly now
Overall Score 7.0 (out of 10)
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut may not be the definitive version available but the base game is still amazing and very worth your attention.
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