In Second Sight, players are cast as a mysterious man who, at first, cannot even remember his own name. Awakening from a coma in a strange, utilitarian facility, the hero finds that he does not know who he is or why he is there. Soon, he also finds that he has been gifted with strange, potentially deadly psychic abilities. He needs answers and, guided by players from a third-person perspective, must make use of both stealth tactics and his unusual mental powers to seek them out.
Eventually, through careful observation and disturbing flashbacks, the player's character realizes that he was once part of a secret military organization, and that he came to this strange facility to recover from a failed mission in central Siberia. Further exploration and investigation reveals much more, as the hero comes to learn of other secret operations, far-reaching government conspiracies, and the soulless program of human experimentation which may have given him his strange psychic powers.
You wake up in a high security hospital room, heavily bandaged, unsure who you are, how you got there, or why you're there. As far as story introductions go, it's a well-worn cliché. But UK developers Free Radicals managed to breathe new life into the idea in its third-person action title, Second Sight, which debuted on the major consoles last fall and has now made the jump from console to PC. It's a surprisingly enjoyable story-driven game only held back by a few slight design issues.
Before you can discover the mysteries surrounding your imprisonment, you're going to have to escape your room. It's here that you uncover the first mystery: you can move things with your mind. Second Sight does a good job of telling you how to use your new psychic abilities, and in the gives you the opportunity to practice until you get the hang of it, but I found the controls to be extremely cumbersome at first and died more than a few times just trying to use my newfound telekinesis.
After the opening stages, the game flashes back in time, and it's here that Second Sight really starts to shine. Rather than mere cutscenes (which are also present), the flashbacks are as much a part of the game as the current time period. As it switches between modern-day events and the past, you start to piece together bits of the missing part of your life. The story is (by far) the best part of Second Sight and should keep you going no matter how frustrating things get.
Working well with the story is Second Sight's level design. From your starting point in the hospital you eventually move on to a mental institution, a top secret Russian facility, and (the old standby) sewers. The levels are well-laid out and provide you with plenty of opportunities to use your different skills, weapons, and psionic abilities. You can go through the levels using a variety of different tactics, from sneaking past guards to killing everything that moves, to any combination of the two. I was particularly fond of telekinetically picking up guards and flinging them against the walls while they grasped at their throats begging, "Make it stop!" It was a real Darth Vader moment.
Second Sight has several flaws common to PC ports, including the previously mentioned cumbersome controls, and the inability to save whenever you want. You can't access the menu options to change the graphics or controls within the game; you have to exit to the main menu. If you forget which button you assigned to something, you can either back out, losing all the work you've done to that point on that level, or hit keys randomly in the hopes of figuring it out before you're dead. The game has a checkpoint system that restarts you at designated points if you die, but it would be nice to be able to leave the game for a while without having to restart the entire level.
Technically, Second Sight's graphics look good, the sound effects are great, and the voice acting is at least passable and sometimes terrific. The game never crashed, and other than the aforementioned checkpoint problems, never showed any bugs beyond the occasional graphics clipping. The A.I. is pretty good as well: enemies never hesitate to sound the alarm if they catch you where they're not supposed to, and they don't always act as expected. Allies, too, act intelligently. They duck and weave when they should and take cover when they're taking fire.
Second Sight isn't a perfect game, but is a solid game with an extremely strong story. If you don't mind dealing with wonky controls and not being able to save whenever you want, it's more than worth a look.
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