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Saw: The Video Game Saw II: Flesh & Blood

Saw II: Flesh & Blood is a third-person survival horror game developed by Zombie Studios and published by Konami. It was the second video game in the Saw franchise and was released on October 19, 2010.

Plot

The first part of the game revolves around Campbell Iman, a drug addict abducted by John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer. Shortly afterward, Campbell wakes up in an abandoned railway building with a death mask locked onto his body. He has to cut beneath his right eye to retrieve a key to stop the deadly mechanism. After his escape, Campbell has to go through numerous deadly traps to find out the truth about his estranged son, who is also addicted to drugs. However, before Campbell finds him, he has to face another test. Upon finding himself in a giant hall, he has to choose to either fight for his life or sacrifice himself for the life of a stranger.

Following the first section of the game, the players take over the role of Michael Tapp, the son of David Tapp, who committed suicide in his apartment after the events of the first video game. There, he comes across the Chief of Police, Henry Jacobs, and a vice detective named Joseph Poltzer, who investigates the scene. However, as Michael leaves the building to have a smoke, he is abducted by a pig-masked man, who injects him with an anesthetic and takes him to the abandoned Holmes Hotel, where he has to play one of Jigsaw's games to find out the truth about his father's death. Thereby, he has to save numerous other victims trapped along his way. Unfortunately, most of them are criminals whom Detective Tapp previously arrested.

While proceeding through the hotel, Michael finds Henry Jacobs in a trap and learns that he is a drug trafficker. Upon being saved by Michael, Henry pretends to be grateful but later meets up with his accomplice, Joseph Poltzer, and orders him to kill Michael to ensure their corruption is kept secret. As he continues his way, Michael comes across Sarah Blalok, who is, in fact, his father's neighbor and a drug addict. She is trapped inside a glass tank, which quickly fills with water. Michael saves her from drowning but is abandoned by her as she blames him for ruining his father's life. Michael follows her and thereby escapes the hotel, only to find himself inside an abandoned chemical plant.

The next victim Michael has to save is Joseph Poltzer, who was trapped while pursuing Michael. Despite Michael's knowledge that Joseph had planned to kill him, he saves him from the trap but is abandoned by him as well. Afterward, Michael further proceeds through the chemical plant and soon finds out about another victim. Carla Song, a doctor who stole pharmaceuticals from her clinic to sell them on the street, is strapped to an elevator, which would tear her in half if Michael does not manage to save her in time. Eventually, he accomplishes this task as well and goes on to find the last victim of his test.

Solomon Bates, a criminal accountant that Michael had already encountered at the beginning of his test, is trapped in a furnace room. Upon his salvation, Solomon admits that he, Henry Jacobs, Joseph Poltzer, Sarah Blalok, and Carla Song are all part of a drug cartel. While investigating the Jigsaw case, Michael's father found out about the cartel but was more interested in pursuing the killer than arresting the corrupt cops. Michael admits that he had stolen his father's files about Jigsaw and published them in a newspaper article to push his career and get revenge on his father for being abandoned by him as a child. This article also gave Henry Jacobs a legitimate reason to discharge Michael's father from the Metropolitan Police Department and prevent him from discovering the drug ring.

While Michael proceeds through the building, he witnesses the death of Carla and Sarah, who are killed by Henry and Poltzer to tie up loose ends. Henry, however, is later killed by Pighead. During a final encounter between Michael and Joseph, the latter is killed with his gun. After defeating him, Michael goes on to the last part of his game and finds himself in the same room as Campbell Iman. Depending on the player's choice, there are two possible outcomes.

Path of Blood: If the player saved Campbell, he survives the final test, while Michael is crushed to death by the surrounding walls, which close in on him. Jigsaw then confronts Campbell and says he is now free and can find his son. Campbell, however, attacks Jigsaw, stating that his son can never live safely in a world with people like him. Jigsaw evades his attack, causing Campbell to be killed by a swinging scythe. Afterward, Jigsaw ends his game with the words "Game Over."

Path of Flesh: If the player sacrifices Campbell, Michael survives the final test and is taken to another room. A videotape left for him claims that he and Jigsaw are similar as they both desire to bring justice to a world of criminals. Michael then faces two doors. One leads Michael to freedom and gives him the chance to use the evidence found by his father to print the story of Jigsaw and the drug cartel. The other door reveals a Pighead costume and offers Michael the chance to help other people by using Jigsaw's methods.

Gameplay

Saw II is primarily a third-person survival horror game with action elements and retains the same gameplay style as the first game. The player controls Michael Tapp, a reporter who has to survive a deadly game set up by the Jigsaw Killer. The primary goal of the game is to traverse the environment and solve traps to escape. Michael has several abilities to fulfill his objectives, such as searching things like corpses to find valuable items, like weapons, health syringes, or clues. Other items, such as case files and cassette tapes, provide additional background information about the Jigsaw investigation.

As opposed to the first game, the combat system mainly consists of Quicktime-events. When engaging in a fight, the player must press a randomly assigned button to counter their enemies' attacks and defeat them. Also, Michael can use traps in the environment to kill his opponents. Michael's health bar, once depleted, can only be restored by bandages, water bottles, or hypodermic needles, which can be stored in an inventory, along with other items. When losing health, the environment slowly fades to black-and-white until Michael either heals himself or dies.

Minigames and puzzles are vital aspects of gameplay. For example, the players frequently come across circuit boxes and have to match opposite-colored wires to proceed. Lockpicking also returns but uses a new minigame that has the player manipulate the tumblers to unlock. Additionally, certain puzzles require the player to turn off the light to discover clues painted on the walls and floors with fluorescent color. Finally, numerous traps are littered all around the asylum, which the player has to avoid by completing Quicktime-events.

Additionally, Saw II introduced another kind of collectible. Scattered around the world are multiple Billy dolls. While collecting them is not required to progress, the players can retrieve these puppets by solving more difficult puzzles.

Development

Following the first game's release, Konami stated intentions to turn the franchise license into their next major survival horror franchise. Relying on visual intensity rather than psychological terror, Konami felt both Saw and their other survival horror franchise, Silent Hill, could survive together without competing. Plans for a sequel were further evident when a cryptic "case file" was placed in the first game, and an internet job listing by Zombie Inc. for a focus group was released. Both pointed to a possible April announcement of a sequel in Los Angeles via press release.

The game was officially announced at Konami's Gamers Night 2010 by a trailer and details accompanying after. The trailer depicted Jigsaw voicing over an anonymous man in the "Venus Fly Trap" attempting to cut his eye out to retrieve a key before failing and being killed. In the same press event, details followed, including the new setting between Saw II and Saw III and the basic storyline of David Tapp's son and protagonist Michael investigating his death and encountering Jigsaw along the way. Martin Schneider, European Marketing & PR Director for Konami, stated that "[the] original Saw video game gave horror fans and gamers a new outlet to advance their favorite genre, but left them wanting more. Saw II will give it to them, but be careful for what you wish for! Our successful partnership with Lionsgate allows us to advance the survival horror genre, giving players the most intense look into the Saw universe ever."

On May 5, it was confirmed that Konami would display Saw II at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010. At E3 2010, Tobin Bell was announced to return to voice the Jigsaw Killer and lend his likeness to the game. Furthermore, the subtitle Flesh & Blood was confirmed. The game was also shown at the San Diego Comic-Con 2010 at the Konami booth. In an interview, producer Jaime Benecia stated that all of the characters and plotlines present in the game had to be approved by Lionsgate to fit the canon established by films.

Reception

Upon release, Flesh & Blood received mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a 51% in aggregator GameRankings. Matthew Castle GamesRadar gave the game a 7 out of 10. In his review, he praised the improved combat and elaborate set-pieces, as well as the puzzles, comparing them to the "Riddler's Challenges" in Batman: Arkham Asylum. His only negative remarks were poor checkpoint locations and subpar graphics. Game Informer gave the game a 4.5 out of 10, saying, "The game failed to polish the concepts of the original." Anthony Gallegos of IGN gave the game a negative review, 4.5 out of 10.

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