Saw II: Flesh & Blood
North American box art
|Designer(s)||John Williamson, Jaime Benecia|
|Composer(s)||Alex Guilbert, Morgan Green|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
Saw II: Flesh & Blood is a third-person survival horror video game developed by Zombie Studios and published by Konami for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is the second video game in the Saw franchise, following 2009's Saw: The Video Game. It was released in 2010 to coincide with the release of the seventh film, Saw 3D, a week later.
Saw II: Flesh & Blood picks up right after Saw and is set between the first and second films. It features David Tapp's son, Michael, as the new protagonist as he searches for clues behind his father's death. In doing so, Michael becomes a target of the Jigsaw Killer and his mysterious apprentice wearing a Pighead costume. The game expands technically on the previous game, also using the Unreal Engine 3. Gameplay improvements include the ability to use the environment to combat enemies and redone combat system based on quick timing and defensive techniques.
Upon release, Saw II: Flesh & Blood received unfavorable reviews, lower than the reception for the first Saw game. Critics noted an improved story but disliked the new combat system, which they felt took the excitement and suspense out of the game. A Microsoft Windows version was announced, but never released.
Saw II: Flesh & Blood is set between the first game and the second film in the series. The new protagonist, Michael, is the son of David Tapp, who begins to seek the cause of his father's death which eventually leads him into conflict with the Jigsaw Killer and his apprentice Pighead. The game takes the player to numerous locations including hotels, factories, sewers, and other places to pursue Jigsaw and find clues behind David Tapp's death.
The first part of the game involves Campbell, a drug addict placed in the "Venus Fly Trap" who has to cut beneath his right eye to retrieve a key to stop the deadly mechanism. He then has to go through numerous, deadly traps in order to retrieve his long lost son, who is also a drug addict, including throwing a man off a ledge for his own survival. Before finding his son, the player is forced to choose either sacrificing Campbell for the sake of a stranger, or saving himself.
After Campbell's sections, the game then cuts to Michael Tapp at his father's apartment after his suicide. He sees Chief of Police Henry Jacobs, a detective named Joseph, and David Tapp's reclusive neighbor Sarah. Michael also sees Jennings Foster, a forensics specialist who was a survivor of the first Saw game. Michael is then kidnapped by Pighead and forced to play Jigsaw's game in order to investigate his father's death. After being abandoned by another victim, Solomon Bates, Michael is given another chance. The first victim Michael must save is a college student named Griff whom his father arrested for raping his professor. Michael continues through the hotel, traversing traps, and rescuing a pedophile named Zeke. Immediately afterwards, Michael finds Chief of Police Henry Jacobs in a trap because of being corrupt and selling drugs on the streets. Upon being saved, Henry pretends to be grateful but later meets up with another corrupt policeman, Joseph Poltzer, who together decide to kill Michael because he learned about their drug smuggling operation. Michael then saves Sarah Blalock (who he met earlier but turns out to be a drug addict) from being drowned in a glass case. Upon being freed, Sarah flees and Michael continues through the hotel to save his next victim.
Before Joseph can confront Michael, however, he is kidnapped by Pighead and is forced into a vise-trap which Michael must save him from. Joseph leaves the player and Michael is led to a factory, where the next victim is. In the factory, Henry attacks Michael to silence him but Michael escapes. He next saves Carla Song, a hospital intern from the first Saw film, from an elevator trap which would rip her in half. It is revealed she was smuggling drugs from the hospital to sell illegally. Michael's last victim is Solomon Bates, the third partner of John Kramer and Art Blank. Bates altered finances and forged books to cover for a larger group of criminals. Upon being saved by Michael, Bates reveals that Henry Jacobs, Joseph Poltzer, Sarah Blalock, Carla Song, and himself were all part of a large drug operation. It was also revealed that David Tapp, Michael's father, discovered this operation while chasing Jigsaw but was more interested in pursuing him rather than corrupt cops. Michael also admits to stealing his father's files on Jigsaw, and using the files to advance his reporting career. The files, in which David admitted that his raid on Jigsaw's lair was without a warrant, was used as grounds by the corrupt Henry Jacobs to fire David to cover up his drug ring.
Along the way, Carla is murdered by Henry to eliminate loose ends, while Henry is later killed by Pighead while Michael witnesses. Solomon is pushed into a pit of needles by Pighead and never seen again. Joseph also kills Sarah in a train station, but is later killed himself by Michael. After killing Joseph, Michael sees and chases Jigsaw to a room where it is revealed that Campbell, the man from the beginning, has chosen Michael's fate by either sacrificing or saving himself.
After killing Joseph and chasing Jigsaw to the final room of the game, the game flashes back to the protagonist of the first act, Campbell, who was left with a decision early in the game. Jigsaw reveals that Michael is the "stranger" whose fate is in the hands of Campbell. Depending on the choice the player made early in the game, there are two possible endings:
If the player chose the Path of Blood and saved Campbell, he will get on the elevator and Michael will be crushed to death by the surrounding walls. Jigsaw then confronts Campbell and says he is now free and can find his son outside. However, Campbell suffers a breakdown and convinces himself that his son can never live properly in a world with people like Jigsaw. Campbell becomes belligerent and attempts to attack Jigsaw, only to be killed by a falling scythe. Jigsaw approaches his corpse and mutters "game over".
If the player chose the Path of Flesh early in the game, Michael will get into the elevator and a tape will play, claiming that he and Jigsaw are similar and would both like to give justice to a world of criminals. Michael then faces two doors; one leads Michael to freedom and the chance to use the evidence found by his father to print the story of Jigsaw and the drug cartel. The other door reveals a Pighead costume and an offer to help people see the truth inside themselves, implying Michael can become another Jigsaw apprentice. The choice made is not revealed to the player.
Saw II retains the same gameplay style as the first game, being primarily a third-person survival horror game with action elements. Puzzles of the original game return; such as the "circuit puzzles"; though instead of matching them with the same color, the player needs to match wires of opposite color (red to yellow and vice versa). Lockpicking returns, but uses a new minigame that has the player manipulate the tumblers to unlock. Environmental puzzles are also presented in a new way, such as having to turn a flashlight on-and-off in certain areas to show certain clues. Quick-time traps are back; in addition to shotguns being placed behind doors, swinging scythes, closing walls, and loose floorboards are placed throughout certain environments for the player to avoid by pressing a button in a timely fashion.
For the sequel, the entire combat system was reworked from the original game. There are two types of combat: melee and puzzle-based. Puzzle-based combat encourages the player to use traps or the environment to execute enemies such as opening an elevator shaft as an enemy charges into it to kill them. The other type, melee combat, consists of the player using weapons or their hands and feet to neutralize an enemy. The basis of the combat will be on quick maneuvers and defensive reactions to defend the player from aggressive enemies. Timing is also essential to fighting and neutralizing enemies.
The "Case Files" from the first game return. The subject of the files are varied but some focus on Tapp's testimonies on his raid of Jigsaw's lair and his entrapment in Whitehurst Asylum. A new collectible scattered throughout the game are small Billy dolls that can be found, though are not required. Players are able to solve more difficult puzzles in hard to reach areas to obtain the dolls. Multiple endings return, but this time around players must complete the game again in its entirety to unlock a different ending due to the decisions made during the game that affect the ending.
Following the release of the first Saw video game, Konami stated intentions to turn the franchise license into their next great survival horror franchise. Relying on visual intensity rather than psychological terror, Konami felt both Saw and their other survival horror franchise, Silent Hill, could survive together without competing. Plans for a sequel were further evident when a cryptic "case file" was placed in the first game and an internet job listing by Zombie Inc. for a focus group was released, both pointing to a possible April announcement of a sequel in Los Angeles via press release.
The game was officially announced at Konami's Gamers Night 2010 by a trailer and details accompanying after. The trailer depicted Jigsaw voicing over an anonymous man in the "Venus Fly Trap" cutting his eye out to retrieve a key before failing and being killed. In the same press event, details followed including the new setting between Saw II and Saw III as well as the basic storyline of David Tapp's son and protagonist Michael investigating his death and encountering Jigsaw along the way. Martin Schneider, European Marketing & PR Director for Konami, stated that "[the] original Saw video game gave horror fans and gamers a new outlet to advance their favorite genre, but left them wanting more. Saw 2 will give it to them, but be careful for what you wish for! Our successful partnership with Lionsgate allows us to advance the survival horror genre, giving players the most intense look into the Saw universe ever."
On May 5 it was confirmed that Saw II would be displayed by Konami at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010. At E3 2010, Tobin Bell was announced to return to voice the Jigsaw Killer as well as lend his likeness to the game; in addition, the subtitle Flesh & Blood was confirmed. The game was also shown at the San Diego Comic-Con 2010 at the Konami booth. In an interview, producer Jaime Benecia stated that all of the characters and plotlines present in the game had to be approved by Lionsgate to fit the canon of the films.
Game Informer said that the game "doesn't just take a step backwards from the first game – it performs a reverse swan dive off a balcony into a swimming pool filled with razorblades" (a possible reference to "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "One More Minute"). Anthony Gallegos of IGN gave the game a very negative review. He felt the new combat system was actually worse than its predecessors. He reasoned the quick-time events rob the game of any suspense and disrupt the horror atmosphere, which he also criticized separately. Gallegos felt the game was poorly designed and disliked the difficult puzzles.
411Mania gave the Xbox 360 version a score of five out of ten and said that it "isn't a horrible game. It's just the definition of a budget title. It's entertaining for a couple of hours, but after that it becomes so repetitious that you'll lose any interest in the game and want to move on to something else. If you need to play this game, make it a rental." Metro gave the PlayStation 3 version a score of three out of ten and said, "Considerably worse than the thoroughly unremarkable original, this is a horror game but not quite in the way it was intended." The Daily Telegraph gave the game a score of two out of ten and said, "There's a temptation to end this review with a play on Jigsaw's famous 'I want to play a game' line, but to call Flesh & Blood a game would be doing a disservice to games, and 'I want to play a train wreck' doesn't have the same ring to it."
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By Oswald McGillicutty: Today, the Jigsaw Killer has revealed what happened to missing game journalists from around the world. In April, In Los Angeles, he will give them a glimpse of what is to come in his next series of reeducation for them. What will be shown is a videogame, but the game itself is much more serious.
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