The Suffering is a third-person horror shooter game from developer Midway Games, the maker of the Mortal Kombat series. In the game, you play as Torque, a man incarcerated for the massacre of his entire family. In an innovative gameplay scheme that uses the much-overused plot device amnesia, the player has direct control of how much truth lies in this allegation.
The review of the downloadable free PC FPS full version horror shooter---and the download link---after the jump.
If The Suffering were a book, I'd say it's a good one but not a page-turner. Unlike games where the pacing presents plot hooks that elicit a deep curiosity to find out what happens next (Halo, etc) or games that present you with awe-inspiring firefights and/or foes that have superior AI (the F.E.A.R. series, No One Lives Forever, etc), The Suffering for the most part presents you with sequences that feel too drawn-out. For most of the game, there's not much in the way of story development; it feels like a dungeon crawl with you blazing and chopping your way through waves and waves of hellspawn. Fans of Serious Sam and the first Doom games will find action here that will prove satisfying but gamers who are looking for more depth may feel the game a bit bland for their tastes.
The monsters of the game come in many forms. They are also one of the most ingeniously-designed creatures I've seen in quite a while (except for the ubiquitous Slayers; the whole marionette-Hellraiser-Voldo fusion comes off as hackneyed). All of the monsters that skitter, burrow, glide, and lope across Abbott Penitentiary echo their former lives and the horrors of their deaths --- Marksmen are amalgams of rifles and the bodies of firing squad victims while Mainliners are ghastly imps that are impaled with multiple syringes that contain lethal poison.
While having limited AI, these creatures have varying attacks and maneuvers that more than immerse players in moments of sheer fright and frenetic life-or-death struggles; it's chilling to see a Slayer while its time, dragging one of the swords connected to its forearms along the ground; it's also sickening to see a Fester--in addition to its usual flailing attacks---open up its belly, disgorging packs of rats from its corpulent form, red layers of viscera showing through the flaps of meat that it peels back.
The Suffering also doesn't hold back with encounters. While most of the time the game hurls small mobs of undead at you, there are also moments where it opens the floodgates of Hell and you begin to wonder, "Gewd loards, am I doing this right? Maybe this scene has points that have infinite spawns and I'm not supposed to tarry here. GewdloardsheretheycomeagainI'mgonnadieI'mgonnadieI'mgonnadie" and just when you get buried under a wave of rotting, screaming, gibbering, snarling undead, the firefight ends and you're left there panting, "I'm still alive! That was impossible but I'm still alive!"
Of course, most of the time, you die --- save often.
Except for the aforementioned periods, The Suffering is not infuriatingly difficult (this coming from someone who finished the entire F.E.A.R. series at Extreme Difficulty without using SloMo; your experience with The Suffering might be different from mine) but it does ramp up the difficulty significantly in its later parts.
As mentioned, the game also grants players direct control on how the plot turns out. In various points of the game, players are presented situations where they can be good, neutral, or evil. Their choices in these key points will have a direct impact on the game's outcome --- kill everyone in sight and you get the "evil" ending; doing the opposite of course gives you the "good" one. I'm not sure on how to get the "neutral" one but a walkthrough reveals that killing everyone and not using Torque's ability to turn into a monster (you acquire this in the first part of the game) give you it.
What I don't like about the game is its color theme that's prevalent in most of the game --- it's too orangy, from Torque's pants to the surrounding terrain, the downloadable free PC FPS full version horror shooter is steeped in shades of orange. It may be in the realm of the subjective, but surely, isn't there a better color scheme than shades of orange? And no, it's not about the PC game's ancient game engine; Silent Hill or Resident Evil's surroundings look better in terms of color.
The free PC FPS' audio, with the exception of the voice acting, is a letdown. Firearms have a meaty feel to them and they have just the right amount of bass. However, they're kind of rough around the edges, making firing them not as appealing as shooting guns in say, Far Cry or Area 51, another game from Midway that has been released as freeware. It's not bad but it's far from perfect.
And then there's my issue with voices. They fade belatedly --- run away from a character who's talking and his voice will still have the same level of volume from three meters off.
Complaints aside, The Suffering does have several interesting characters. In order not to present spoilers, suffice to say I particularly like one escapee and one of the main characters, whose overall design, showman-esque voice, and frequent appearances imbue the game with a bit of the story immersion I've mentioned that this game is somewhat lacking. If this game had more of these interesting encounters, The Suffering would have been something else entirely. Sadly though, the non-player characters are few and far between, leaving you to run through the game alone (more so if you kill everyone in sight just to get the game's "evil" ending).
Overall, The Suffering is a good horror PC game that, while feeling too drawn-out in the first parts, does boast of intermittent hair-raising encounters and frenetic gunfights that are reminiscent of the first Doom games. Fans of PC horror games that present mobs of helllspawn to cut a swath through should definitely try this one out.
When you get to the last battle, I wish you good luck: this game has one of the hardest, meanest final boss encounters I've ever been in. >)_)
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