Few games will garner as much controversy from this generation as Deadly Premonition. Mention it amongst a group of gamer friends and you are likely to hear about how awful it is, as well as it being heralded as one of the most incredible experiences ever created. This polarization means one thing; Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro (the game’s eccentric developer) and his team have done something right. Whether you love or hate the game is irrelevant, what is important is that now US gamers who don’t own an Xbox 360 have a chance to check out this unique and outlandish experience.
If you want to read my colleague Jeff’s original review of the game, you can do so here. I will be going over a large portion of the game, but only the PS3 version in particular, and focusing on its changes.
The story of Deadly Premonition can be summed up with two words: Twin Peaks. This will give you a general idea of how things play out, but it is also so much more than that. Players take on the role of Francis York Morgan, an FBI agent investigating a murder involving red seeds at the crime scene. It’s pretty cookie-cutter stuff on the surface, but the ridiculous dialogue and purposeful cheesiness really sells the action. Most people have probably seen at least one scene from the game, and out of context it truly makes as much sense as it does within the game. That is the charm of Deadly Premonition.
With the Director’s Cut of the game, the developers have added quite a few new bullet points for the box art. The first thing I noticed was the polished visuals. The greasy filter of the original is replaced with more vibrant colors. Not everyone will appreciate this, as they claim the filter added to the charm, but it cannot be argued that the new sheen of paint really helps the colors stand out. The updated look comes at a cost though; the frame rate. I have never seen a game look so dated, yet run so terribly at the same time. Hitting 30fps is the best it gets, with rates crawling as low as 10-15 during intense sequences. It really is a hot mess, and I cannot understand why.
The other major change has been to the control scheme. This now feels more like a traditional third-person shooter when it comes to the combat. Again, a lot of people are not happy about the changes as they insist it reduces the integrity, but I for one really enjoyed it. Dispatching enemies is now far simpler than before, which is good considering combat was one of the areas where the original really faltered. Snapping to foes with the tap of a button still feels awkward, and a pseudo auto-lock would have made all the difference, but the changes that have been made are appreciated.
As far as new content is concerned, there isn’t much here. The main game already spans a great deal of time, and there are no new playable sequences to be found in the Director’s Cut. Instead the new pieces come in the form of cut scenes with a promise of future DLC, which just feels wrong. Releasing what is supposedly the definitive version of a game while promising more content just doesn’t sit well with me. If the developers are planning to create new content for this relatively old title, just create a new experience, or simply wait until it is all ready to go and release a “true” Director’s Cut of the game.
One of the weird additions to the PS3 outing is the addition of 3D and Move controls. I had to dust off my 3D glasses to give it a whirl, and immediately put them right back in storage. The horrid frame rate mixed with three-dimensional images was simply vomit-inducing. Move support also feels entirely useless in the grand scheme of things. I can’t imagine anyone with any interest in Deadly Premonition preferring to use inaccurate motion controls over a traditional setup.
While my review may sound harsh at times, it doesn’t come without love. The core of Deadly Premonition still lies beneath these questionable additions, and it is also the first time the game has been available on the PS3 outside of Japan. That alone is enough reason for those intrigued to check it out. I still stand by the 360 version as the definitive experience, simply for the cleaner frame rate, and likely lower price tag, but if PS3 is your only option, this will suffice. Again, this is an impossible game to sum up into so many words, and the polarization on how “good” it actually is will never die. One thing is certain though, this experience will not be forgotten for years to come.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.