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Splatterhouse

 

Splatterhouse

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action/Horror
 
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Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai/Bottle Rocket

Features:

1 player
68KB game save
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
Custom Soundtracks
In Game Dolby Digital

Inspired by the landmark 1988 arcade hit, Splatterhouse combines visceral, adrenaline-soaked combat with horror elements to deliver an original gaming experience that defies the boundaries of the traditional action category with over-the-top gore and shocking new gameplay mechanics. Splatterhouse follows college student Rick Taylor as he tries to rescue his girlfriend, Jennifer, who has disappeared after entering the mysterious and run-down West Mansion. Confronted by horrific other-worldly creatures, Rick comes across a mystical sentient mask that promises to give him the power to find Jennifer. Full of desperation and rage, Rick puts on the "Terror Mask" and is transformed into a juggernaut of pure violence and destruction.

Graphics

Splatterhouse has a fresh stylized look about it with good character animations. Unfortunately the game is largely unremarkable otherwise. There are some slick looking areas throughout the game, but most areas tend to repeat. The visuals are cartoon-like, well coloured and textured for the most part. I found that sometimes the backgrounds got a bit blurred with the huge amounts of blood but that’s part of the game's shtick I suppose. What makes the game fun and cool to at look is the brutal violence, which is much to my liking. There are all kinds of monsters to hack up in the most grizzly and gruesome fashions — ripping off arms and legs or pipes to the head, or my old favourite the trusty two-by-four. The platform levels are a sweet throwback to the days of the arcade and 16 bit consoles, although with little parallaxing, which is disappointing. I knew this game would be a blood bath, but the quick time "splatter kills" are really impressive to say the least. The Splatterhouse games have always been about over the top violence and brutality; this incarnation makes the older titles look like a day in the park.

The game has some flaws which mar it from being truly great. The more often than not choppy frame rate really does get tough to endure. Pulling off moves in slow-mo is not fun. Along with the wonky frame rate is the usual screen tearing and clipping issues; these problems should really not be here but get used to it. One really cannot overlook the issues, they make gaming with this title a tough one. Another issue I thought was not right was the huge loading times; screens took in upwards of 40-50 seconds to load up. There is no flow here which once again gets tedious after some time. Another minor gripe if you can call it that is the lack of save points. If the game ran at a great pace with no issues I think I could overlook the lack of save points. The game screams “Unfinished” and that is unfortunate.

Sound

The soundtrack has a definite old-school vibe to it; I found myself grooving to it here and there. The game takes sudden twists as does the music sometimes switching up into a full on modern metal sound, which really suits the game perfectly. If none of the default tunes suit your mood, you can insert your own custom musical stylings that are ripped to your Xbox hardrive.

The game's gory visuals are equally matched by the gruesome sound effects. The sound of Rick tearing his enemies limb from limb is eerie and sometimes a little disturbing in realism. From the arterial blood spray or the crushing of skull, the sounds are fantastically done. Ripping and tearing monsters apart or pummelling their faces never sounded so good and juicy. Splatterhouse is completely encoded in Dolby Digital Surround, and the game makes excellent use of the 5.1 mix.

Gameplay

My Splatterhouse experience began in a local arcade sometime ago. The game looked and sounded evil…and it was. Needless to say from the very moment I placed my quarter into this machine I was hooked. The gore, music and tone of it all were new to me. It took a long while, but when I heard that this game was coming to the TG-16 I instantly bought it and played the hell out of it. So 17 years or so later, Splatterhouse has returned.

Splatterhouse has to be one of the goriest, bloodiest games to date. I would have to say that fans of the older games will probably love the re-make, but some (like me) may have outgrown the blood and guts style of game.

Featuring an original storyline by critically-acclaimed comic book writer Gordon Rennie (Necronauts, Judge Dredd), Splatterhouse takes Rick beyond the mansion as he scours the ends of the world to rescue his beloved Jennifer. Splatterhouse gives players countless ways to decimate the mansion's assortment of demons, monstrosities and abominations. Featuring a dynamic combat system, Rick can use his brute strength to perform bone-crushing melee combos, savage grapples and wield an assortment of makeshift weapons including the series' trademark 2x4 and even rip limbs and heads from enemies. Players can also reanimate the corpses of fallen enemies to fight alongside Rick, imparting strategic depth to the game's battle and unique puzzle systems. More agile than ever before, Rick can now leap great distances and propel himself to out of reach areas by swinging from outcroppings in the environment, adding an all-new level of exploration to the series.

Right away gamers are going to be frustrated with the game’s cheap deaths and sometimes awful platforming style. I found the collision detection way off in areas. So much so it reminded me of the older games. All three were full of cheap deaths and had terrible platforming stylings, so mission accomplished. Seriously, let's face it we don't play Splatterhouse for the common gaming experience, we play Splatterhouse for the senseless gore and down-right mayhem and this game delivers in every sense of the way. The brutal carnage and homage to the classic horror movies combined with the cheesy storyline is what makes this game great.

Basically, the whole game consists of running around and killing monsters or other weird things, repeatedly. Pretty easy if you ask me, although the difficulty does ramp-up in brutal mode. The controls are simple, pressing X and or Y beats enemies to a pulp while B grabs and slams them into the floor until they turn to jelly. You can jump, dodge-roll and heal yourself by sucking the life blood out of whatever crosses your path. If you find weapons (like machetes, shotguns or two-by-fours) lying around, you can use them to cause even more carnage. As you fight, you collect blood which is tracked by your onscreen Necrometer. When you have collected enough blood, LB will to turn into a super charged scarier version. Your hands will grow scythe blades and spiky bones start growing out of your back. Collecting blood can also be used to purchase additional health and useful skill upgrades.

Splatterhouse is not a tremendously varied game like its arcade brethren; it sticks to a fairly basic formula. There is some variation in terms of enemy types, which come in the typical weak zombie fodder to the more powerful and highly disturbing baboon-butt variety. I must warn you the finisher for the baboon-butt monster is just wrong. It had me shaking my head a few times. The game also mixes it up here and there with the occasional 2D side-scrolling sequences—obvious nods to the original arcade game. Aside from limited variation, the game's main problem is load times. Every time you die, you sit through a 40 second load screen. It may not sound like much, but it gets to be aggravating once you've done it more than a few times. Loading during game play is also a problem. I found often after clearing an area you end up standing in front of a door waiting for it to open, while an onscreen loading icon spins in the corner.

Once you complete the story mode (which runs about 15 to 20 hours) you can check journal entries and photos in the Extras menu. You can try on the special Xbox exclusive mask or give the unlocked Survival Mode arenas a go. There are several different endings as well, which makes the game seem longer than it really is. Coolest of all (at least for those of us nostalgic about our misspent arcade youth) once you've played through the story mode you can unlock the three original Splatterhouse games. They are fun to play again but terrible to look at, as they are all displayed in pixelated glory. As an added bonus the old Genesis codes work for the old Splatterhouse 2 & 3 games, which unlock even more items and cheats. If you are a fan of the series then you will love this game.

As far as purchased extras, DLC for the game is limited to a handful of alternate masks, an extra Survival arena and a Splatterhouse Xbox dashboard theme, priced from 80 to 240 Xbox points.

One thing I almost forgot to mention is the "killing Rooms" where you take on wave after wave of enemies, and try and dispatch them as quickly as possible. Kind of like the horde or zombie modes in other games.


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