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The Suffering
game: The Suffering
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
date posted: 12:00 AM Mon May 26th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Mon May 26th, 2003

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By Matt James

There was a time when the worse thing you had to worry about in prison was a little bit of the so called prison love (that's right, I put being someone's bitch higher up on the worry scale than getting shanked in the cafeteria line). Apparently Midway didn't feel that prison was scary enough, so when they set their new video game in a maximum-security prison, they felt it necessary to inhabit it with all types of horrific creatures that look like they come straight from the horror movies or from your worse nightmares. Mwahahaha.

I have to tell you, the first time I saw The Suffering I wasn't horribly impressed. It was near the end of a long day at E3, my back was sore, my feet hurt, and there was a rumbley in my tumbley. On a whim, I picked up a free controller and started playing. It was right in the middle of a game; the person before me had been stuck and I wasn't doing any better. I gave up and walked away in disgust. Lucky for me I saw a trailer for the game a little later on one of the many, many big screens. It caught my attention and I decided that I must go back and give The Suffering another try.

The next day I returned to E3 refreshed and ready for more hot video game action. This time I stopped at a different booth for the Suffering. Here is what really made the difference: this booth had headsets. Anyone who has been to E3 can tell you it is an amazing and overwhelming place, but all that melted away when I placed that head set over my ears. I was no longer on the floor of E3 but locked up in prison, convicted of murder. I kid you not, this game spooked me and it did it in the middle of the most crowded room I have ever been in. The Suffering is not for the faint of heart.

The main character is Torque, and he doesn't appear to be a very nice fellow. Torque may very well be the most despicable video game hero of all time. He is on death row awaiting his turn to fry, convicted of not only killing his ex-wife but his children as well. The neat thing about this game is that your actions throughout the game will determine whether or not you truly did murder your family or if it all is a setup. In the beginning though you learn fast that Torque is a bad dude.

As he sits in his cell awaiting his fate, something happens and the entire prison becomes the victim of some unholy apparitions. Most of the inmates and guards are dead and Torque suddenly finds himself free; that is, if he can escape the evil that has now taken over the prison.

The intense audio experience draws you in and the superior lighting effects keep you peeing down your leg. Ghouls appear in the shadows and spring upon you without warning. Prisoners moan in the background and rattle their cell bars. It is all done superbly, much better than you average horror flick.

All this scary goodness is a great package around a game with some interesting innovations. The choices you make affect the game as well as the ending. At one point a prison guard was assisting me. It was easy to tell that he wasn't a big fan of Torque's. (Incidentally, this guard character has to be the most fowl mouthed video game character ever. I could not believe the things that were coming out of his mouth. Once again I warn you that this game is not for children.) I was tired of his threats and a little torqued (ha ha!) that he had a gun and all I had was a measly knife, so I killed him. Now I had a gun, but my character was one step closer to damnation. I think it is good that in a game that deals with so many mature themes they decided to have consequences for your actions. It makes this a mature title in more than just the usual way.

In the way of gameplay, The Suffering is fairly standard to the third-person action-horror genre. It is like Resident Evil taken up a notch (or ten). If this game were a movie it would be fighting for the R rating. I am anxious to sit down with The Suffering, but I would be hesitant to let my little brothers hang around and watch. Midway is shooting for an appropriate Halloween release date. Hopefully The Suffering will scare your socks off and push the boundaries of the genre at the same time.