Still Life 2
July 20, 2009
Who is hiding behind Mr. X? Still Life 2 reveals the long-awaited ending of Still Life and spells a new investigation for Agent Victoria McPherson.
In Fall 2008, Victoria is sent to Maine where Ellen Dunnigan's body has just been found. The modus operandi and the video sent to the police and press leave them in no doubt as to the killer's identity: the East Coast Torturer has struck again! No clues are picked up during the autopsy, as the serial killer painstakingly washed the body. Once again, the killer has not committed any errors.
In her hotel room, Victoria comes across an article by Paloma Hernandez, the journalist covering all the crimes bearing the East Coast Torturer's signature. Hernandez has been highly critical of the FBI's and Victoria's lack of progress. That does not stop Hernandez from phoning and asking Victoria to meet her later that evening. Hernandez claims to have some so-called clues on the killer in her possession. Victoria flatly refuses. Just moments later, Paloma is kidnapped by the Torturer…
Still Life 2 remains true to the spirit of its first installment and continues to allow the gamer to play and manage two characters bound by the same fate. This time, the aim is to control two heroines, see the game from two complementary viewpoints, and experience two different gameplays. Depending on whether you are playing Paloma Hernandez, the victim being hunted by the killer, or Victoria McPherson, the FBI agent tracking him down, you can alternate between survival and investigation. Still Life 2 was developed at Gameco Studios and was produced fully in real-time 3D.
The game was released for PC in April 2009.
Making a sequel to a good game is always a difficult task. Expectations are high and the developer needs to deliver. The first game was dark and intriguing, and we were left with a big question - did the killer survive? Who is he? We made a short list of who he could be, but didn't have enough information to make the final decision. After almost four years, Still Life 2 is finally here, and it is as dark as the first game, with the same insane killer who kills for the pleasure of doing it. He also uses a lot of imagination to kill and torture people who have the misfortune of crossing his path. I was very excited at the beginning of the new game. Will I finally be able to put a face on the killer; will the East Coast killer saga come to an end?
Graphics and Gameplay
Still Life 2 is a third person adventure game. As in the previous game, you will be able to control two characters. This time it's Victoria McPherson and Paloma Hernandez, a nosy reporter who will do anything to get an exclusive even if it means getting in the way of Vic's investigation. Hernandez won't stop until she finds the killer, making her a threat to both Victoria's case and the killer himself. He will have only one solution to keep his identity a secret - make her disappear.
Graphics are grainy and not as smooth as they were in the previous game. The characters aren't as well designed either. They have sharp edges, and the way they move isn't very realistic. Sometimes they will even move through inanimate objects. Once I got stuck between two of those objects and couldn't move any more. I had to go to a previous saved game and make sure I didn't go into that corner again. Victoria also disappeared once on the second floor of the killer's mansion. I had to go back to a saved game to resolve the problem.
But most of the time we can move from one place to another smoothly. Double clicking will make the character run. There is a bit of pixel hunting in the game. The inventory system is complicated. You have sixteen boxes to put items in, and if you pick up a new object and you don't have enough room, you will have to go to one of the storage spaces that can be found in each location to make room for the new object. As the storage spaces aren't connected so that you can find items from all the other spaces, I would suggest that as soon as you enter a new location, go find the previous storage place and retrieve your items to place in the new one. That way if you need one of the items in the new location, you can go pick it up without having to leave.
The story is very good. You will be sitting on the edge of your chair, never knowing what will happen next. In the killer's mansion a lot of effort was made to make the place very creepy and uninviting. You will need to watch your step and look in every corner so you won't be surprised by an unexpected event. There are several interesting cutscenes with some taking place in the past and others in real time. What was even more interesting is that sometimes you will see a scene from Vic's perspective and later you will see it from Paloma's perspective. Some of the scenes are violent, but after all this is a serial killer investigation. There are a lot of things to investigate, documents to read (most of them a very good read), computer hacking, fingerprints to take and samples to pick up and analyze using the FBI kit. It is very important that you analyze a clue immediately after you collect it, and make sure you use all three of the functions in the FBI kit to do it. I didn't go through the complete analysis once and got really stuck. It took me quite awhile to realize that I forgot to do one part of the clue analysis and, of course, that was the one thing that triggered the next event.
There are timed sequences and, yes, you CAN die, but lucky for us poor adventure gamers, an autosave is done before most of these sequences. So you can quickly get back to it if you die. Unfortunately, some of these sequences are very long and you will need to do several things before getting the well-deserved conclusion. If you die, you will have to start all over. I did die several times, but nothing was impossible to do. With a lot of thinking, observation, and patience everyone should be able to get through them.
A funny thing sometimes happens when Vic is feeling threatened. She takes her gun and a small moving target appears in front of her. You think you should shoot at something, but you won't. You will pick up your gun and the shooting part is done in a cutscene.
Besides the timed sequences, the rest of the puzzles are mostly inventory based. There's nothing too hard, and you'll be doing the usual things like object combinations and trying to use the items in logical places.
Interesting facts about the game
The FBI kit is fun and easy to use.
Autosave system before any event where you could end up dying
Dialogue and Sound
The music is very good and makes a perfect background to the very scary atmosphere of the game. The great sound effects add even more to the spookiness of the game. The voice actors are also very good. There is a lot of talking in the game, so make sure you go through all of the conversations or you might get stuck.
Bugs and/or patches
As I mentioned before, I got stuck between a wall and a tank and couldn't move anywhere. I had to load a previous game save to move forward in the game. Also, Vic disappeared in the mansion once. Again, I had to load a previous game save.
1,5 GHz Intel Pentium® 4
RAM 512 MB
Video Card 128 MB DirectX® 9 Compatible
Disk Space 4 GB Free
Sound Card, Mouse, Keyboard DirectX® 9 Compatible
My computer specifications:
OS: Windows Vista SP1
RAM: 3072 MB
Processor: Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo 3.00 Go
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
Sound: Onboard Sound Controller
Disk space: 1st 215 Go and 2nd 252 Go
Still Life 2 has a very interesting investigation made even more interesting by having the FBI kit to analyze the clues. The kit really made you feel you were participating in the investigation. There were a lot of clues to analyze. I think fewer might have been better. Graphics were not as good as the previous Still Life , but I got used to them and even forgot about it after awhile because I was so immersed in my investigation. The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that the characters had such sharp edges.
The ending is quite long and very confusing. You could end up in a dead end if you do not choose the correct actions. The ending is a long sequence of events, and in some of those sequences you cannot save. However, there are places during that long ending that you can save, and if you do so, you will be able to go back and replay the ending.
The game was fun to play, but I wish that more polishing would have been done. It would have made the game much more enjoyable. I enjoyed most of the cutscenes, and some of the reading was very interesting. It all came together to help me a lot in my investigation.
Still Life 2