Splatterhouse Review

Might as well get this out of the way right up front.  Splatterhouse is an exceptional game in the graphics department. If a Fangoria made a video game this would be it.  Ultra violent in an almost comic sort of way, Splatterhouse delivers an exceptional game visually.  If you are big fan of blood, guts, and various other internal organs chances are you are gonna get a kick out of the way that you are bathed in them as you play Splatterhouse.  Though, it’s not just the sheer amount of gore in the game that make it an exceptional title in this department.  The artists did a great job with a lot of aspects of the game, whether you are judging the in game action, the cutscenes, the kill sequences, or boss battles, Splatterhouse looks terrific or terrorific I guess I should say.  The use of lighting and textures in Splatterhouse also add to the already great looking title.  Just one look at a cutscene and you can see the insane amount of detail in the character models.  If anything, Splatterhouse is a great looking game.

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While I wasn’t a huge fan of the combat in Splatterhouse, I really enjoyed the looks of it all.  The majority of the game is spent pummeling monsters in a quest to rescue your sweetheart.  What was really cool about Splatterhouse is the real time damage that your character takes.  Losing an arm in battle is not uncommon, neither are giant chunks taken out of your body by your enemies.  It gives the player a visual cue of when you are going to need more blood to regain your energy so that you can regain your full capacities.  Beating your enemies until the turn red and start blinking will be your cue to initiate a quicktime event which will end this enemies life with a gruesome and stylish finishing move that were also really easy on the eyes.

Sometimes games like Splatterhouse, which is a predominantly 3rd person beat ’em up, tend to get a little stale.  Splatterhouse mixes in some really great parts to the game, in what is more than likely an homage to the Splatterhouse games of yesteryear.  But this is no flashback to 16bit 2D sidescroller.  These have some three dimensional elements, bodies flying into the screen, and plenty of blood.  If 1992 could see us now.

Aside from the visual elements of the combat, the combat itself was pretty lame.  This game is a button masher.  A one button masher if you want it to be, because there aren’t many times when a standard button press isn’t your key to success in winning a fight.  There are times when you are tasked with performing a sequence of moves to overcome a different variety of enemy, but for the most part you can just mash through the whole game with one button, which sucks.  There are plenty of combos to open up via purchase but for the majority of the game you don’t have access to most of it.  I can appreciate that the game wants you to level up your character.  In the introduction it gives you a glimpse of the powers that you can earn, but the building process is a bit tedious and most gamers will long be bored before they even reach the level to earn the powerups that actually make the combat fun.  But worse is, you don’t actually need them.

As I said before you see physical damage on your charcter during any of the games many battle sequences as well as seeing the screen flashing red.  This is always your key to press the trigger and B (O).  It drains your enemies power and gives it to you, taking any and all strategy away from doing anything but just mashing.  It’s inevitable that many will be bored with the tired mechanics of the game.  It brings very little that you haven’t been tasked to do in the 10’s or 100’s of games you have played like this before it.

As great as the graphics for Splatterhouse are, the controls are exactly the opposite: Bad,  Unintuitive, and at times downright Crap.  Not much of the game is spent in areas where pinpoint controls are necessary, but when they are, their badness really shines through.  One mechanic in particular is the jumping.  It’s awkward, and you will find yourself leaping to your death on many occasion throughout your time with both the 2D and 3D portions of the game.  Mistimed jumps will send you into an endless juggle between obstacles that will ultimately lead to your demise.  Picking up weapons or locking onto specific enemies within a specific battle are necessary to pass certain parts of the game, and they are equally as frustrating as some of the jumping sequences.

When you tie in the bad controls with the ridiculus camera controls, and camera angles that you will be fighting from, the game quickly becomes an exercise in patience more so than fun.  The camera problems don’t happen all the time but when they do you’ll know it, because you’ll likely have an epileptic seizure.

Questionable Checkpoint placement coupled with long loading times will ultimately make you dislike Splatterhouse if you don’t adore the graphic presentation.  Replaying the tedious combat sequences only to be bridaled with a 2 minute loading screen, followed by a cutscene,  then jumping to your death is just something that gets old after a while.  This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 and perhaps my Xbox is showing its age, but the load times were cut to a third by installing the game to my hard-drive which was necessary after I saw how ridiculous the times were without loading to the HDD.  This isn’t an option for persons that are HDD challenged so this may be a deal breaker for some.  So, is Splatterhouse hard or just broken?  It’s hard to tell really.  It’s hard on many levels for just the sheer fact that the controls don’t feel right.  It’s hard on others because of what needs to be accomplished to obtain a checkpoint.  When I say questionable checkpoint placement, I say it only because I’m questioning WTH the developers were thinking making people fight some of these boring sequences more than once.

Splatterhouse was a game of polar opposites for me.  As much as I loved the visual styles of the game and imaginings of the artists, I equally hated the game’s technical shortcomings.  Perhaps it’s because I liked the visual style so much that I really wanted to be able to enjoy the game.  There’s a ton of good about Splatterhouse and it can be fun at times.  You definitely know when Rick has been in a room, its painted head to toe with blood, guts, and limbs, and that part of the game just doesn’t get old. With a better combat system and more refined controls, Splatterhouse could have been something magical.  At a time where in the gaming world blood isn’t a rarity anymore, it’s just not enough to get the job done.

Splatterhouse was a game of polar opposites for me. As much as I loved the visual styles of the game and imaginings of the artists, I equally hated the game’s technical shortcomings.
Reviewed on Xbox 360

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