At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Matt Bailey PlayStation 2 Codemasters Free Radical Design 1 Here
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Memory Card Click here to buy Second Sight.

Second Sight review

Free Radical Design are known for their TimeSplitters series, but while they were signed off to EA for TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, the team made up of ex-Rare employees also worked on another title for Codemasters: Second Sight.

Second Sight's story involves John Vattic as he awakens from a really long coma in a US medical facility where he's being experimented on. Suffering from amnesia, he has no idea who or where he is; all he knows is that to survive, he needs to escape. As well as the continuing story, you are often confronted with flashbacks to help piece together John's past - each one a playable element. As the story progresses, John discovers his telekinetic abilities - including the ability to control objects with his mind (an ability that is discovered very early on in the game). The conspiracies, psychic powers, and experimentation in a US military facility add up to a story that certainly fits the X-Files mould. In fact, the story is one of the greatest assets - despite the fact that the TimeSplitters series still lacks a decent and flowing story element, Free Radical Design have actually produced an intriguing story that you'll want to see through right to the end.

And you probably will. One of the game's main criticisms is that it's simply too easy. While there are parts that become difficult, mainly through the use of stealth, these sections usually only slow down your progress rather than stop it altogether. All too often, when caught by guards, you can run away to hide in a vent or a locker, meaning you can be forgotten and return to the game unnoticed, just like Metal Gear Solid. This problem is made worse due to the psychic powers; once hidden you can use your abilities to recharge your health, and return to play as if you've just begun. This means that the main portion of the game can be easily progressed if you always know where to hide, while the other section - which takes place before John's incident, and thus his gaining of the powers - is actually harder.

The game itself is a third-person action adventure - another departure for first-person-focused Free Radical. The use of psychic powers is, rather oddly, not one of the game's best features. That's not to say they're at all bad - the powers themselves are both visually and dynamically satisfying, even if the physics are a little unrealistic. No, the game actually features great use of weaponry. It's a pity that despite the ability to get out of most situations without firing a single bullet, you will often resort to the arsenal on offer. This is testament to both the great implementation of weapons (which features a combination of auto lock-on and fine tuning with the analogue stick) and the difficulty in using the powers (which requires you to pause the game - breaking the flow - and select a power from some icons). Once selected, they are actually easy enough to use, but usually not as effective as the weapons, and it seems Free Radical can't get away from what they're fundamentally good at.

The game's graphics engine certainly shows a connection to the TimeSplitters series. The game is immediately visually similar in style, with the rounded characters and animated facial expressions present. Character animation is impressive, and the detail in the characters themselves is fairly good if somewhat limited. The environments give a good sense of reality which is spoiled by the sometimes clumsy physics, which leaves characters' bodies in strange positions after being thrown about. The destructible nature of a lot of items makes up for this a bit. The special effects, however, are... well... special. The psychic powers have allowed for plenty of visual fun that really gives a sense of power to your abilities.

Ratings

Graphics A visually appealing game, with plenty of TimeSplitters-style character. However, even the PS2 version isn't pushing the hardware. 8/10
Gameplay Enjoyable, if too easy for some. It is a pity that the psychic abilities seem to play second fiddle to the weapons, which have been implemented extremely well. 7/10
Value No multiplayer means the game is really done with once you've completed the story mode. Even the excellent story isn't honestly enough to make you want to play again. However, the game has now dropped in price, making it more worthwhile. 7/10
Lifespan Casual gamers will find longer enjoyment with this – the story mode can be completed in a few hours by better players, and the only other feature to enjoy is some hidden mini-games. 7/10
Audio Sounds effects are OK, but the voice acting is actually very good. A combination we're not used to. 8/10
Overall As a psychic power-based title, it's not as good as Psi-Ops, but as an experience with a great story and fun-but-too-easy gameplay it's a game that's certainly worth picking it up now it's cheaper. 7/10

Click here to buy Second Sight from Amazon.co.uk.

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