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Blair Witch Volume 2: The Legend of Coffin Rock

Score: 65%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Gathering
Developer: Human Head Studios
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Survival Horror/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Where the first Blair Witch title sported creepy, atmospheric environments and spooky sound, Blair Witch Volume 2 fails to impress in either department. The graphics are ugly and sparse; the environments lifeless and plain. Characters clip through just about anything, and the camera takes its sweet time following the action. And watching the polygons on the clothes pop in and out of existence or bounce around randomly may be entertaining, but it doesnít make for a good game. Itís not the ugliest 3D game that Iíve ever played, but itís pretty close. There are a few moments of impressive visuals scattered throughout the game, but for the most part theyíre merely passable.

The sound isnít quite as bad, but it still doesnít really impress. The voice acting is weak, and the sound often cuts out at random intervals. I followed the READMEís directions, and it certainly helped some with the sound problems, but it still didnít quite sound right. The sound effects themselves are minimal, with foot crunchings and gunshots and whatnot. Thereís the occasional spooky cackle or mysterious sound, but itís nowhere near the immersive creepiness of, say, Alien: Resurrection, or even the first game in the series.

With lackluster graphics and lackluster sound, one would hope that Blair Witch Volume 2: The Legend of Coffin Rock sports some gameplay that makes up for the presentation.


Gameplay:

One would be bitterly disappointed. The Legend of Coffin Rock takes the thrilling yet frustrating gameplay of Blair Witch Volume 1, and turns it into a basic kill-fest with constant interruption by lengthy cut-scenes. While the story is somewhat intriguing, it wonít keep you hooked until the end unless youíve got absolutely nothing else to do with your time.

Youíre... someone, found in the middle of the woods with a massive head wound and nursed back to a semblance of life by a nearby farmwoman. The young girl who saved you turns out to be Robin Weaver, which actually ties into the whole Blair Witch mythos -- along with Coffin Rock itself, of course. Soon, Robin disappears and itís up to you to find her. What could have been an intriguing game instead turns into rote torture. You have to get from point A to point B, so you kill everything in between. Then you get to hear sub-par voice acting for roughly ten minutes as the characters tell you what you need to do next. Youíll often flashback to your time as a Union soldier, defending the same small town of Burkitsville. These memory triggers often seem arbitrary -- a method of lengthening the time spent playing the game rather than any real continuation of the plot. Yes, it explains a few things, but it could be done without all the pointless fighting and whatnot.

And in the end, youíll feel that all the fighting is pointless too. You can take out ghosts with bullets, for example. Read that last sentence again. Now tell me this game doesnít have issues.

It also has serious suspension of disbelief issues. Why are you carrying Twana healing items when you first arrive? Why are there bullets lying on the ground in the middle of the yard, and why does your character trust that theyíll even fire? Why do I lose rounds when I reload my revolver before itís completely empty? And why, oh why, do bullets harm ghosts? Things like this frustrate me more than control or graphics issues; they remind me that Iím playing a game, instead of enveloping me in the world that Iím experiencing through the actions of the character I control. Itís inelegant, could have been done much better, and hurts the feel immensely.


Difficulty:

Once youíve got the control scheme down, BW Volume 2 is pretty easy to handle. Thereís lots of fighting, and the game makes plenty of cheap shots with crappy camera angles and gang-ups, although a steady mouse hand and trigger finger will get you through most of the game without a problem. Most of the areas are fairly linear, and if you get stuck, you can basically run around and look for things to kill until the place lets you go. Itís nothing thatíll strain your brain, although your fingers may get sore from pumping the trigger button.

Game Mechanics:

The Nocturne control scheme definitely takes some getting used to, but after toughing through one game in this series already, it feels like old hat to me. You have to choose between overly sensitive and too damn slow, but I found that I didnít have the problems in controlling Lazarus like I did with Volume 1 and Volume 3. Small consolation, perhaps, but there you have it. The game still uses atrocious ďcamera anglesĒ to show you where youíre going and what youíre doing, often making battles near-impossible. Watch your gun, and if you see it start to ďtrackĒ an enemy, start firing even if you canít see them. Oftentimes itís the only way to take something out without getting mauled by the baddies first. The menus are relatively clear and understandable, if a bit dry. And the frickiní installer pops up every time you put the CD in. Argh!

Definitely the weakest of the series, Blair Witch Volume 2: The Legend of Coffin Rock combines weak gameplay with weak graphics, sound, and storytelling. You may play through to see just what happens to Lazarus, but if you do, youíre either a die-hard fan or a game reviewer. The rest of the world would do well to pass on this title, as it brings nothing new to the genre.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Win9x/NT/2K, Fast processor, 64 MB RAM, 850 MB HD Space
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6x/24x DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/32 MB RAM

Windows Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr Windows Blair Witch Volume 3: The Elly Kedward Tale

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated