Video Game Review of the Week
--Review by KenshiroKing @ 7/22/03 18:10 PST.
Clock Tower 3
Alright, let's get two things straight before I begin. One, I LOVE survival horrors. Anyone who knows me can tell you they are my favorite games. If a game falls into the survival horror genre, it automatically scores points with me. The second thing I want to get straight is this: Clock Tower 3 sucks ass. Big, hairy ass.
I know what you're thinking. How can this game suck ass if you automatically give points to survival horrors? Your answer my friend is because this game is just that bad. It is easily the worst game I have reviewed on this site to date, though doubtlessly that will change when I get my hands on the new Tomb Raider.
Okay, I'm gonna break this down quick so I can move on to bigger and better games... or just games that don't make me feel like burning my hands off in a toaster oven so I don't have to play them anymore.
Okay, so obviously the game in question is Clock Tower 3 produced by Capcom for the Playstation 2. Oh, don't let the fact that it's produced by Capcom fool you, this game is a steaming pile of shit. You play the role of Alyssa, a fourteen year old girl whose birthday is just around the corner. While at school, she recieves a letter from her mother urging her to go and hide because she is not safe. Unsurprisingly, despite her mother's warning, she immediately heads home to find out what her mother means. She returns home to find her mother missing, and a mysterious man in her house. The man promptly leaves and Alyssa wanders about her house until she is sucked away to WWII England. The story progresses from there with Alyssa jumping around locations and timelines while fighting ghosts and insane possessed killers known as "Subordinates". Yes, I know, very scary. By the end of the game Alyssa discovers her destiny and fights to save her mother. Yay. Now, let me outline the good features of this game first because they won't take long.
Graphically, CT3 is good, and when I say good I mean by the standards of the PS2. Let's face it folks, the PS2 came out a good year before the Gamecube and Xbox, and it shows. Despite this, CT3 does a fairly good job of creating a quasi-gothic environment for Alyssa to wander around in. The locations are fairly detailed and there are a few cool effects such as reflections of Alyssa and the surrounding environment in stagnant pools of water. There were only two problems I had with the graphics of CT3. One, there is a glaring lack of dynamic lighting. Alyssa's shadow comes from one lightsource and it never changes direction or fades even if she is standing right next to an alternate light source. Two, the lipsyncing is terrible, even for a dubbed game. The characters barely move their mouths even during verbose scenes with intense dialogue.
One outstanding feature to this game is the gore content. Lightly sprinkled throughout the levels of this game are extremely graphic and disturbing scenes in which innocent victims are horribly murdered. Shock and gore are absolutely essential in survival horror games because without them, we lack fear for the protagonist of the game and fear is what makes a SH title good.
Sadly, the game's score is an outright tragedy. Boring, repetitive songs keep getting played over and over and over again while you are exploring this game. Whenever a Subordinate appears to get their kill on, you are treated to music that, while individual to each killer, is repetitious in the extreme. To me, music is absolutely essential to setting mood, and the mood the music establishes is one of boredom and disgust. Nice job, guys. The sound effects are no better with bad voice acting (with a few exceptions) and no ambient sound to speak of.
The nail in the coffin for this game is the horrible gameplay. A brief bit of survival horror theory here. In order for a SH title to be scary, creepy or whatever, you need to fear for your character's survival. If you compound to this a lack of places to save and few restorative health items, you have a challenging game that has real consequences for dying. Resident Evil 1 is a perfect example of this (if you are playing as Chris).
Clock Tower 3 on the other hand faily miserably at causing you to fear for Alyssa. Witness: There are two types of enemies in CT3. The first are ghosts that wander the levels and attack Alyssa by trying to grab her when she gets close. These ghosts are easily avoided by anyone with rudimentary skills in videogames. The others, which are far more dangerous than the ghosts, are the Subordinates. However, despite this fact, they are still laughably easy to evade and, ultimately, defeat. By simply sprinkling them with your main weapon, which is an easily refilled container of Holy Water, you can temporarily stun them. From there it is only a matter of returning to one of the readily available hide points where you sit and wait for them to dissapear. This process is repeated many times during the course of the game. Now there are a few points that can be used once to temporarily neutralize the Subordinates, but they are only mildly creative and by no means make up for the redundancy of the rest of the game. When the time comes to dispatch of them, you are presented with a very powerful weapon that, except inexplicably for one boss, auto aims and has the power to bind the subordinates in one spot. Defeating them is simply a matter of running around until they execute one of their painfully slow and obvious attacks, then holding the attack button down for as long as you can to charge the weapon then fire. Rinse, repeat, fall asleep.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that your health actually regenerates, and quickly at that. I had a huge store of health supplies by the end of the game simply because I could run around in circles or just sit and hide to regain health. I only died once during the entire game and that was due to a complete shift in the manner in which the final boss fights in comparison to the other bosses. Quite simply, this game had all the challenge of Animal Crossing. Uh, not that I've played that game.
There are a few other inexcusable items that I wanted to mention just because they bugged me so damn much. For one, this game is too linear. There are no side quests or optional items to speak of. The game feels like the creators are leading you by the hand the entire time. Also, during one scene, access to doors are restricted by ROPES for god's sake. I mean, the doors are roped off in an abandoned theater and Alyssa wont open the door. She says something to the effect of "this area looks closed off" or some such crap. Give me a break.
Overall, this game sucks. No amount of sadly decent PS2 graphics and gore content can save a game that, at heart is a poorly executed excuse for a survival horror. Do not play this game. Unless you want to help me put the smack down on some fools over at Gamefaqs.