Sometimes there are titles that seem to fly under the radar. A lot of times this can mean that the game sucked major tailpipe, but in the case of this third-person psychic thriller, only a psychic (or marketing executive) could explain why Second Sight didn’t make more waves than it did.
In this game brought to you by the same, fine folks that delivered the TimeSplitters series, you play as a man named John Vattic who wakes up in a research facility and can’t remember how he got there or anything about himself. He soon discovers that he has incredible psychic powers, which he will use to aid him in unraveling the mystery that surrounds his past. As John starts to remember more about his involvement in a covert military unit known as WinterICE, he realizes more powers within himself.
Using the psychic powers in Second Sight is pretty easy. The tutorials are built into the game somewhat cleverly as part of the storyline, but are skippable for veterans and know-it-alls. Like other Free Radical games it takes some time to get used to the control scheme, but after awhile players will find themselves throwing objects and enemies with telekinesis, cloaking, sending out a mental projection of Vattic, and even possessing other characters with relative ease. Combined with a decent assortment of guns, John Vattic has quite an arsenal at his disposal. But you won’t always have to, or want to use force. Many of Vattic’s psychic powers can enable him to slip past guards unnoticed, and many of these will be required in figuring out how to get through the doors and security systems in some areas.
As far as gameplay goes, this game is pretty strong. The game has a good mix of combat and stealth, action and exploration. However, while most of the psychic powers were pretty cool and useful, I found myself relying heavily on some much more than others. Controlling the guns felt pretty solid except when it came to trying to adjust the aim manually (as opposed to the target-locking) to execute a head shot for example. On the GameCube it was hard to hold the C-stick at just the right angle and squeeze the trigger with the same hand without missing. This was only slightly frustrating however.
The physics engine in the game was good. It was fun to hurl boxes and bodies down hallways or pull objects through windows and smash glass. Running around and doing things in the game world was pretty smooth, and performing actions such as climbing, crouching, wall hugging and interacting with in-game objects was very fluid. But sometimes guards would get stuck in the ceiling when being manipulated with telekinesis or scoot around on the ground as if they weighed almost nothing, which looked pretty funny and took away from the experience slightly. Most everything else in the game looked good though.
The environments in Second Sight range from decent to great. Some seemed a little generic but then there were levels that were more inspired. Wandering around in a dilapidated insane asylum on a stormy night just makes for a good time. Character models and textures will feel very familiar to fans of TimeSplitters 2 and 3, which for GameCube owners means they are pretty good. The visual effects surrounding the use of the psychic powers were nothing too fancy, but didn’t really need to be either. The blue auras sort of reminded me of how the Force usually looks in most Star Wars games. Controlling the camera on the manual position feels intuitive and the camera can be switched between auto and manual (most players will probably want to choose the latter), as well as first person for looking around.
The sound effects and the music in the game were fine. Second Sight mostly utilized a blend of symphonic and electronic scores. There were a few cut scenes where the music was so loud that I could barely hear what the characters were saying, but other than that there weren’t any complaints. Actors responded appropriately to what was going on and the music became more exciting if you’d been seen messing around – a seemingly necessary part to any game that contains some element of stealth.
The storyline is this game’s greatest strength, and it pulls you right along. It unfolds from what at first seems like a standard tale of an amnesiac turned hero, into one that will leave you somewhat surprised. It won’t have as many insane twists as Tales of Symphonia, but also doesn’t treat the player like an idiot with straight forwardness like so many games out there. Unfortunately, there is not much else I can divulge about the story of the game without ruining it except that when I was finished I felt like I had just read a good book.
When it comes to length, this game will probably last from about 8 to 10 hours for most gamers. With no real need to play through the game on both of the difficulty levels offered, not much in the way of bonus materials (however, there are two arcade games you can find and play within the game), and no multiplayer, this game might only get lovin’ from your GameCube for one weekend. But it will be a happy weekend.
Considering the game cost between ten and twenty dollars at the time of this review, you can’t really go wrong with this one, if you can find a copy. It’s a nice title with a good story, especially for GameCube owners who have played the limited number of outstanding games the Cube has to offer and might be looking for what else is out there.