The Suffering: Ties That Bind Review

Developer: Surreal Publisher: Midway Games
Release Date: September 26, 2005 Also On: PC, PS2 and Xbox

Midway Games pulled its act together early last year with the release of The Suffering for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The third-person action-horror game was a mild success for the company commercially, but at least put them back on track. In fact, The Suffering was so impressive that it was one of our top rated games of 2004 with a 9.5, as well as a serious contender for our Game of the Year award.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

How a single year can change everything. For me, The Suffering: Ties that Bind takes the series from a nearly elite status, to a mediocrity that is the biggest disappointment of the year. Returning is Torque, as he’s transported to the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, after escaping the bloody soil of Carnate Island. You’ll immediately be greeted by security personnel.

The game is set in the urban streets of Baltimore, the dilapidated buildings of the city, and prisons. The eerie charm of Carnate Island and the prison itself is gone. You felt the prison had an identity, a history, and the story related that very well to the player in the original. In Ties that Bind, through flashbacks, you’ll lose interest. Each story in The Suffering had meaning. From the electric chair victim, to the slave ship that sunk, to the island itself with a troubled history, The Suffering aroused your curiosity with its story, whereas Ties that Bind is overly generic and uncreative.

Ties that Bind puts a moderate amount of necessity in turning into Torque’s creature form. One of the problems with this approach is that the run-and-gun rhythm of the first game has been replaced with a hollower gun approach, where an emphasis on turning into Torque’s enraged creature is central to defeating many enemies. In The Suffering, the incentive for turning into the creature would be you can kill a lot of them at once. The only incentive in doing it in Ties that Bind is being able to continue the game. It becomes a prerequisite to playing the game when certain enemies can’t die without morphing.

So what’s wrong with taking this approach? I really don’t have much against the idea, except too much was taken away from the gunplay in order to enforce this model of play. Unlike in the first game, you can only carry two weapons at a time. Worse yet, you can’t carry two guns and a melee weapon like a bat, the limit of two weapons is two weapons, period. None of the weapons have unlimited ammo either, unlike the original. I’m a gamer that wants options, not that because I run out of ammo, I need to change form to finish enemies. Worst-case scenario, I’m melee attacking enemies with my weapons.

The combination of low ammo, a huge decrease in health from attacks, combined with an underabundance of health supplies hurt this game’s fun factor and score dramatically. Progressing through the game, getting stuck juncture after juncture, becomes tedious, tiresome, and laborious. I complained in the last game that there was an overabundance of ammo and health. Apparently my 9.5 score didn’t clue them into my satisfaction with the formula nonetheless.

Two other things that I disliked with Ties that Bind include its slow pacing mixed with inconsistent action. The other is its use of human enemy AI that attack Torque. This, in my opinion, is a completely unnecessary move that feels more out-of-place than visualizing Martha Stewart as an inmate at Carnate. Must I remind Surreal that this is a horror game, not a tactical shooter à la Rainbow Six?

You must be wondering, does Ties that Bind do anything right? No. Okay, just kidding. The weapon selection is once again excellent, with guns varying from standard pistols, semi-automatics, shotguns, grenade launchers, and a whole assortment of secondary weapons, such as grenades, flashbangs, Molotov cocktails, etc. The monster variety is relatively strong, with the crawling bodies with knife limbs, a spider-like creature with guns, etc. Finally, the voice-acting is pretty good, as well as sound effects, but I give the edge to the original as well.

If you’re a fan of the original game, depending largely upon whether you liked the weapon system or not, you’ll either love or strongly disapprove of the direction that Midway has taken the franchise. I happen to be the latter, but I reserve everyone’s right to an opinion. The game lulls along, with action here and there, but the fear of the unknown creeping behind every corner in the first game is very much gone in Ties that Bind, which happens to be my greatest disappointment. All told, Ties that Bind is worth a rent, but if you find yourself wishing you’d spent your money on something else, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.4
Written by Kyle Review Guide

Leave a Comment