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PS2 Review: Obscure: The Aftermath

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Let’s cut straight to the chase. Obscure: The Aftermath is an average, run-of-the-mill, survival horror game, with a strong fondness for WB-style storytelling and poor play mechanics. It’s a tacked on sequel to a generally terrible game that does little to set it apart from the dregs of the genre.

Things kick off with you in control of one of eight college stereotypes, on a desperate quest to break into the cool kids' frat party where, thanks to a rich mix of ancient herbs and unprotected pre-marital sex, all hell has broken loose. From here we journey down a clichéd, unoriginal path, full of predictable plot points to a near verbatim rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a bland final boss.

Game play is equally bland and uncreative, consisting of generic puzzles, clunky controls and a character skills system that’s almost completely unnecessary. Sure, each of the eight characters has their own unique abilities, but rarely do you find yourself using anything other than strength and acrobatics to solve puzzles. Combat is more frustrating than it should be, largely due to awkward controls and enemies that take significantly more damage than you can efficiently dish out. Hit detection is very spotty and often requires you get far closer to an enemy then is safe. The selection of weapons is nice, but thanks to low ammunition counts and a plethora of generic, interchangeable melee weapons, you’re probably not going to get much out of it.

Fortunately level design is, for the most part, fairly intuitive and doesn’t often result in becoming lost or stuck. Though clearly linear in design, there is some room for exploration and some areas contain interesting references, like a key card for Dr. Herbert West. Oddly this is one of the game’s strongest points.

For everything that Obscure: The Aftermath does wrong, there is one thing it almost, sort of, does right and that’s co-op play. At any time you can have a second player hop right in, take over the second AI-controlled character, and start busting skulls. In general this makes the game a lot easier and, dare I say, a lot more fun. Sadly, as good as the co-op experience is though, it’s not without its flaws. Normally third person co-op games have the camera track both players simultaneously, but in this particular game it only tracks one player. Sure you can switch which player it’s locked on, but for some puzzles it makes things damn near impossible.

In general Obscure: The Aftermath is just a bad game with one, surprisingly fun saving grace. That’s really all I can say on the matter. If you’ve got a friend and are bored, maybe you could give it a rent, but it's the only situation where I’d recommend it.

Obscure: The Aftermath is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mild Sexual Themes and Violence.

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About Jason Westhaver