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Second Sight
Second Sight
Developer:Free Radical
Publisher:Codemasters
Platform:PC; PS2; GameCube; Xbox
Genre:Action Adventure
Release Date:February 2005
Grade:87/100


Imagine you had the ability to harness the full potential of the human mind. To channel conscious thought into pure energy, bending the physical world to your whim. With a simple gesture of your hand objects soar through the air. Physical harm means nothing; you can regenerate your material body with the supreme power of your mind. You can give others serenity, take away their worries, make them tell you their deepest secrets, or stand in front of them while they are utterly certain you donít even exist. You are a physic and there is nothing that can stop you.

The ceiling lights are flashing past as you come to your senses. This must be some sort of a hospital. Two men escort you to a doctor. They seem to think you are very dangerous killer. Confused and helpless, you have no choice but to succumb to the sedatives. Hours later you wake up with no recollection of who and where you are. Deeply wounded and barely clinging onto life, you have to release yourself from this prison and find some answers. In utter shock, you discover that you can activate the switch that can unlock your room without even touching it. Wandering through the corridors you realize you can move objects around at will. Perhaps there was a good reason to keep you locked up at the hospital. A quick glance at the tag on your wrist reminds you of your name: John Vattic. But how did you get here? Are you really a psychotic killer? In the murkiness of your memory an incredible power is yearning for release and within that power, lies the truth.

Developed by the team behind the highly successful TimeSplitters series, Second Sight is a third person stealth action game. Second Sight tells the story of the troubled John Vattic. After opening his eyes in a hospital with little recollection of who or what he is, John has to go against seemingly insurmountable odds to discover the truth. The game tells its story on two separate threads. As the John Vattic in present day, you will be constantly on the run and fighting for your survival. At the same time, through flashbacks to a military operation conducted six months ago, you will help John remember how the current events were set in motion. As John regains more and more of his memories, your investigation in the present day will deepen and reveal an intricate conspiracy. Second Sight truly has an impressive plot that skillfully unfolds as you proceed through the missions. As you help John stay alive, the game is likely to keep you guessing right until the very end. Second Sight has the kind of plot that drives you forward and compels you to complete the game to uncover the mystery.

Thanks to the successful implementation of a diverse set of psychic powers, the gameplay in Second Sight can be greatly entertaining. Just like characters in many other stealth action games, John is capable of hiding behind walls, sneaking around, and handling firearms. The game has a solid gun combat system with a particularly easy interface for targeting on the console version. However, Johnís psionic powers not only sets Second Sight apart from other games in the genre, but also makes for very unique gameplay mechanics. After all, who needs to duck behind a corner or use a gun when you can turn yourself invisible or use telekinesis to choke your enemies to death instead?

John gains his psionic powers at key points in the game. Players will be immediately able to try out the basic telekinesis. John has the ability to move certain small objects. Besides helping him get past certain obstacles, John can use his telekinetic powers to flung objects at his opponents. Later, he gets the ability to target humans with his telekinetic powers, making him immensely more dangerous. John can also heal himself or others with his psionic energy, making him very hard to defeat as long as you can catch a moment to recover health between waves of enemies. Other powers include the ability to posses or charm the enemies. The possession skill allows you to take complete control of an enemy soldier and wreak massive damage without the risk of bodily harm. Activating charm renders you invisible to the enemy. All psionic abilities in Second Sight consume Johnís psychic energy. Fortunately, the psychic energy does recharge at a rapid rate and does not take away from the usefulness of Johnís powers.

After getting past the introduction missions, players will frequently encounter situations where there is more than one way to make progress. Many times it is possible to sneak past an area without being seen by anybody. However, stealthily taking out enemies one by one with telekinesis or just charging in with your guns blazing might be just as viable options. The ability to approach situations with many different strategies does bring some amount of replay value to Second Sight, despite the gameís linear plot.

The graphics in Second Sight will be instantly familiar to gamers who have played the TimeSplitters series. From character modeling to the environments, the charming TimeSplitters tone has been maintained in Second Sight. While the game does not feature jaw-dropping visuals, the stylish character animations do give it a pleasant look. Similarly, while none of them are truly exceptional, the voice acting, music, and sound effects in Second sight do a fair job of setting the gameís mood.

Unfortunately, Second Sight is not without its share of problems. In certain areas, Second Sight does not let the player change the camera angle. This can unnecessarily increase the difficulty of sneaking around as you will have a hard time observing the patrol patterns of the guards. Even on screens where the player can adjust the camera, telekinetically controlling objects can become a little difficult. There might be a few cases where John will end up taking damage while you struggle to adjust the camera to get a better view of your enemy and target them properly with telekinesis. However, these technical problems are not too severe and do not take away too much from the gameplay experience.

Another issue is Second Sightís length. While the game tells an excellent story, it could have definitely stood being longer. It is possible to complete Second Sight in a first attempt in less than ten hours. While the game is great at urging the players to carry on and unlock the mystery, it seems like there should have been more to Johnís adventure.

Second Sight has elements that make up an excellent action adventure game. Despite the gameís problems, the compelling story and innovative gameplay can keep many players interested. Especially after getting the hang of utilizing Johnís psychic powers, players can have a lot of fun sneaking around the gameís locations or harassing the soldiers with the possession skill. Especially the fans of psychological thrillers and those with an interest in psionics should consider giving Second Sight a try. Codemasters has created a solid concept with Second Sight. Hopefully, John Vattic will be back with another adventure to test his remarkable talents.