Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut Review
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Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut is a survival horror game developed by Access Games that was released exclusively for the PS3. The original version of the game was released a few years back as a budget title for Xbox 360. Though the game received mixed reviews for its overall look and presentation, it gained a cult status for its story and variety of gameplay. This Director's Cut version is my first time playing Deadly Premonition and I can understand both sides; why it is both criticized and praised. The game offers a level of variety that no other survival horror has given us so far and the story kept me guessing until the end.
The story starts off with a murder happening in the small town of Greenvale. FBI agent Francis York Morgan is called in to investigate. He meets up with the sheriff and deputy of the town and together they investigate the crime. With Deadly Premonition, it's as if you are completely living out the life of York while playing the game. You have to drive to every place that he must go to and you must perform everyday things such as shaving, eating, and sleeping between all of your investigation work or York will start to be affected by your decisions. York will start to grow a beard if you don't shave or he will complain about getting hungry if he doesn't eat. He must also wash his clothes before changing into new ones - fail to clean your clothes and York will get flies that will follow him around.
It's little touches like these that make Deadly Premonition stand out. The game is survival horror at heart, but with much more variety than the usual survival horror game. Much like the Silent Hill games, there are Other World segments which York will enter while he profiles a case and he must do battle with undead enemies on his way through those areas. The game also has hiding and running portions along with QTE button-tapping sequences. While profiling a case, York must collect evidence in order to create his own image of the crime scene. Evidence is pieced together into a scene as York finds more clues and then a full scene is developed after he finds all the clues for a specific scenario. The cutscenes in the game are quite interesting and often get to the point rather quickly. The voice acting fits the characters and the lip movement is often right on with the words being spoken the majority of the time - although it is slightly off sometimes.
As already mentioned, York must drive to each location. The controls for driving are kind of sluggish but they get the job done. A player can switch between a first and third person view while driving. York can turn on his turn signals, headlights, windshield wipers, car siren, and he must even worry about gas and damaging the car too much. Again, it's little touches like this that really distinguish Deadly Premonition from other survival horror games. Driving long distances can get tedious but you can engage in conversations along the way. Even when York is alone, he can talk to himself about something. This keeps the story flowing very well and even the most minimal small talk about movies helps builds his character at times (he's a real movie buff).
The majority of the driving portion of the game is about traveling from one destination to the other that are designated by markers in order to check out crime scenes. The town of Greenvale is absolutely huge! Thankfully, you can pull up a mini map and even bigger mini map while driving that work quite well for showing the way to your destination. Besides main story objectives, the game also offers a few side quests, though many of them are fetch and retrieve missions or survival games of some type. There are also fishing mini games. Besides killing off enemies and advancing through the story, York can gain extra money through the mini games. The money that he gains can be used to buy extra items or weapons. York gains a variety of guns weapons and melee weapons throughout the course of the game. Trading cards are also hidden throughout the town area and these will give York extra money for collecting them. Once the game is beaten, a bonus menu full of the game's cutscenes, music, trading cards and other collections can be accessed.
The story for Deadly Premonition is very layered and deep. It really gets a player in touch with its characters. All characters have their own unique personality and you get a pretty deep understanding of each important character. The game drew me in so easily with some of its cutscenes and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. The story does get kind of far-fetched toward the end but it does have an overall good ending that helps to explain it all. The main character is probably the most interesting and the deepest character overall. York actually has another persona that he talks to regularly and that is expanded upon throughout the story.
Deadly Premonition's main flaw is its graphics. It literally looks like a late PS2 game or early PS3 game with its overall appearance. Character models lack detail and so do environments. There are many blocky edges on characters and environments and objects suddenly just "appear" as they come into view while driving. You can get used to its appearance after a while, but the first impression is a turnoff. Some environmental effects such as the rain are done pretty well. It's not all the way bad in terms of graphics but it's noticeably a step down from other games that are out now. The aiming controls are another bad part of the game. When holding his gun, York's head and body get in the way of aiming when holding the gun too far to the left. The aiming is overall pretty sluggish and the laser from York's gun is hard to see against the background. Thankfully all the enemies move rather slow so there is no need to aim really fast.
The Director's Cut version of Deadly Premonition has a problem with lag at times. While playing it, the game will skip at times during gameplay and cutscenes. It can literally start skipping at any time and it appears to do so randomly and without any sort of cause. The game can go several hours without skipping or do so for a quite a few minutes. Hopefully this will be fixed with some sort of developer patch later on. The Director's Cut version can be played with the Move controller. The Move serves as the right analog for moving the camera for the most part. All walking and overall character movement is done with the controller while the move motion controller is used for adjusting the camera. When aiming, the Move is used for adjusting the camera and for firing York's gun. The Move controls fit quite well with the game and it actually makes aiming a bit easier.
Deadly Premonition is a mix of flaws and genius at the same time. If you can look past the flaws, you will find a survival horror game that is much different than your average run-of-the-mill survival horror game. It has much more variety than your standard survival horror game and the story is quite deep. Deadly Premonition is the type of game you really have to stick with if you want to see the best it has to offer. From the start of the game, it looks pretty bad overall, but give it a chance and you'll be in for a treat. The game is not perfect, and it's not bad, Deadly Premonition is somewhere in between, but one thing is for sure, it's unlike any other survival horror you have played before.
+ Deep story
+ Much variety in gameplay
+ Very fitting music and sound effects
- Graphics are dated compared to other survival horror titles
- Aiming controls are kind of sluggish
- The game skips randomly during gameplay and cutscenes at times
Final Rating: 78%. It's not perfect, but it certainly is a unique experience that stands out from the crowd.