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The Suffering: The Ties That Bind

Some people have it tough in life. Torque, star of the first instalment of the excellent The Suffering, hasn't been blessed with the most fortunate of lives. As if being wrongly imprisoned wasn't bad enough, seeing his family die at the end of the last game was just the impetus needed to push him right over the edge. Relentlessly pursuing the grand manipulator (Caleb Blackmore) responsible for their fate, Torque once again comes up against a whole host of twisted characters and corpses in this sadistic shooter that's definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Atmospheric flashbacks give us disturbing glimpses of Torque's past, and when coupled with the dark, dank prison and slum environments of a dystopian Baltimore, are enough to have anyone reaching for the Prozac. Once again, players have certain morality choices to make throughout their quest, which in turn have a defining effect on events later on in the game. See that junkie lying in the gutter? Leave him be and feel good about yourself, or blow his brains out and live with the torment - it's up to you. These alter Torque's flashbacks, which in turn then affect his current mental state, and thus how he deals with certain scenarios. Quite a bit deeper than your average shooter, eh?

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As a direct result, Torque has multiple levels of sanity. Get him chicken oriental enough and he'll unleash his 'inner demon', a fearsome and massively destructive creature that acts as a smart-bomb game mechanic. Players can alter the bloodthirstiness of this demon by ramping up Torque's insanity levels (achieved through being completely merciless and sadistic to enemies and innocents alike), though they'll then have to live with the consequences. Again, this level of choice and gameplay variation isn't found in a lot of straight first-person shooters, but it looks like a refreshing break from the norm.

Far from being a straight sequel, The Suffering: Ties That Bind has really tweaked the gameplay of the original. Your inventory has been streamlined and is more intuitive, and Torque now moves a lot more smoothly. He's packing a much bigger arsenal of weapons too, which is definitely a good thing, because enemy AI is tougher and smarter than a Royal Marine with a PhD in astrophysics. We enjoyed the innovative gameplay and brazen gore of the first Suffering title, so it's a fairly safe bet that we're going to love this top-looking blaster too. Book that appointment with your therapist for the game's release this September.

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