Review: Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut (PS3)

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Title: Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (11.1 GB)
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: Access Games
Price: $39.99
ESRB Rating: M
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut is exclusive to the PlayStation 3.

When the original version of Deadly Premonition launched for the Xbox 360 in February 2010, it quickly became one of the most critically polarizing games of this generation.  Many reviewers were disgusted with its choppy feel, slow pace, ridiculous characters, and amateur gameplay; or lack there of.  Others were extremely impressed with its originality, fearless approach, and hilarious dialogue.  After a quick first impression, I was convinced that I would be a member of the first group, but after a few hours, I was compelled to continue because of this title’s overall charm and tantalizing story.

Gameplay:
You are FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan, a character that proves to be as quirky as the small town inhabitants he is investigating.  Throughout this review, we’ll refer to him as York; everyone calls him that.  The murder of a young girl, Anna Graham, has taken place in Greenvale; a rural town with a population of less than 600.

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The most notable thing about this game is its ability to put you in the shoes of York and make the player feel as though these experiences are their own.  In many games, even Triple A titles, there can be a disconnect between player and main protagonist, causing that “taken out of the game” feeling that we’ve all experienced.  There are a number of gameplay elements that attribute to this connection to York.  On the surface, they are simple RPG influences.  York needs sleep to advance time and keep his life bar from depleting and he also needs to eat.

The cult following that the original Deadly Premonition garnered created loyal fans that describe this game as having a certain “something”.  On a deeper level than the RPG elements, the connection to York is definitely strengthened by this “something”.  At first, York is made to feel unwanted by local law enforcement and it seems that everyone in town is gossiping about his arrival.  He is quickly made an outcast and the differences between his world and Greenvale are often the topic of discussion.  We’ve all felt this sense of un-belonging at some point.

The pacing of Deadly Premonition:  The Director’s Cut can be painfully slow but it is deliberate in the way it makes the player live York’s life while he is posted up in a Greenvale hotel.  You have to drive to every destination in this ambitiously large open world.  You have to thoroughly investigate crime scenes and interrogate townspeople.  Watching lengthy cutscenes is necessary to advance the story.  This sort of gameplay is broken up by nightmarish sequences where York deals with some freakishly creepy zombies.  The gunplay is very amateur as no moving is possible while aiming and shooting.  The feel reminded me of Resident Evil games from the PS2 era.  There are also some tricky QTEs during some of these nightmares.

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The open world elements of Deadly Premonition:  The Director’s Cut are quick and fun with fishing activities and some car races.  There are also some optional side missions that can add longevity to this already 20+ hour game.

Visuals:
Although it probably isn’t fair to compare the visuals in this game to current releases, I do feel that even games released approximately 3 years ago still looked much better than this one.  Environments are lazy, with the same tree in a forest repeated hundreds of times to fabricate the wooded areas.  Texturing on floors and interiors alike are unimpressive and lacking.  Character models of enemies are fuzzy around the edges but the main characters themselves are detailed enough.  PS2 games late in their generation are on par with the visuals here.

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Audio:
The audio in Deadly Premonition:  The Director’s Cut is another area where the game shines.  The dialogue is hilariously priceless and the music changes to signify the different areas of the gameplay and character introduction.  Creepy music during the nightmare sections, corny 80’s action movie music during a character’s first appearance, and relaxed small town tunes while exploring Greenvale accentuate the gameplay perfectly.

York talks to a voice in his head that goes by the name of Zach right in front of any onlookers as if the behavior was normal.  Greenvale residents nonchalantly agree never to ask about Zach.  When driving around town, Zach and York have deep discussions about 80’s films and their transition to DVD.  It is charming nonsense that sparks a peculiar interest in the true genius behind the writing.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
After spending some time with Deadly Premonition:  The Director’s Cut, its polarizing reactions make complete sense.  It is a weird, over the top, serious parody of small towns, investigative drama, and video games overall.  There isn’t much of a challenge to be had here, with the only traditional gameplay occurring during the nightmare sequences.  Aside from that, it is an interactive story that provides hours of entertainment.  Love it or hate it, one thing that cannot be denied is that this game offers an experience like no other.

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The crime scene investigations and interrogations seem to have largely influenced games like L.A. Noire.  Instead of creating a game with many different cases separated by lackluster action sequences, Deadly Premonition:  The Director’s Cut focuses on one big investigation and sprinkles in some strangely relatable characters with a captivating story and a truth that players become determined to uncover.

*Deadly Premonition:  The Director’s Cut supports PlayStation Move.

Score:
7.5

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