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Review: Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut

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Deadly-Premonition-Direct-Cut-cover Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
Price: $39.99
System(s): PS3
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Rising Star Games (Access Games)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, and Suggestive Themes

There’s something beautiful and mind-boggling about a game that works to mimic the likes of Twin Peaks. Aside from being delightfully quirky fodder for story building, there’s already a defined noir-ish, atmosphere that lends to the creation of finely crafted meandering messes. That’s what Deadly Premonition was when it was a budget Xbox 360 title. It was highly polarizing for a lot of different reasons, ending up on multiple different “best of” and “worst of” lists. Personally, I’ve even heard some people refer to it in conversations as the best Dreamcast game never made, due to the way that the controls worked and how dated it looked.

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Dark things happen in a small town.

I covered Deadly Premonition‘s storyin a recent article. Suffice to say that it’s almost the entire narrative arc for Twin Peaks. Horrible murder happens, one that happens to be like multiple others across state lines. Enter Agent Francis York Morgan, an FBI criminal profiler. The secrets of the inhabitants of the town as well as the nature of the area are exposed to the outsider as he starts out only helping the investigation, until he takes control. He does this after finding the link to other murders is found. The original Deadly Premonition did a lot of narrative things right. Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut just improves on an already finely tuned story. You can go to the analysis of what was done right in terms of the narrative in the link, since this review will cover the more technical aspects.

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Deadly Premonition‘s Director’s Cut features improvements and quirks

Where to start? The original Deadly Premonition was technically flawed, but it was one of those games that you really came for the story. It was a sloppily executed meandering mess, not unlike a David Lynch movie or tv show. It just goes everywhere and when it works, it’s beautiful. And then there’s the stuff that doesn’t work, which ends up also being appealing for some reason. The graphics were dated, looking like a Dreamcast game when it was decently rendered. The driving controls were god awful. The hit detection worked – usually. The mapping function was almost nonexistent, unless you were willing to leave gameplay. It was such a technical train wreck by the current generation’s standards that there was actually something kind of enjoyable and endearing.

That being said, Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut either tweaks or fixes a lot of the issues that had popped up with the original. And before you ask, no. The driving was not one of the things that was fixed. It is still so awful that it’s confusing on why it can be fun. It might only be fun for the same reason why it was fun in the original where the conversations were interesting. And then there were the times when York is just rambling to an empty car about class horror movies and 1980s pop culture. The driving controls are awful, while the content in driving kind of redeems the act of driving. So it’s no difference from the original.

Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut does increase the quality of the graphics a bit. So rather than looking like a decent Dreamcast render, it’s closer to a good PS2 render with the option of stereoscopic 3D. Note, I wasn’t able to test that out for lack of funds for a 3DTV. If you want to know and are willing to donate one, feel free. And yes, the previous sentence is a joke. But the animation and lighting improvement actually shows how much better it is as soon as you see the introductory cinematic showing the discovery of the murder victim. It’s just done in a stronger way that adds to the surrealism and noir aspect.

In the original Deadly Premonition, the map feature was good, but you always had to leave gameplay in order to really see where you are. The in-gameplay map has been improved in the Director’s Cut allowing for a view of a larger part of the map without having to go into the pause menu. And the enlarged map doesn’t really obscure part of your surroundings. So it works better. You still have  to leave gameplay to see the full map, but that’s ok. I just wish they would’ve found a way to integrate things like the inventory system into gameplay  rather than limiting it to the pause menu.

The on-foot controls run smoother and are more responsive, partially due to the pulled back camera angle – which also gives gameplay a bit more of a cinematic flare. Now the unfortunate thing with this is that the game went from feeling unbalanced to feeling overly balanced. It went from feeling a little too hard too early to feeling a little too easy throughout – at least when the controls are responsive. It just seems that fixing the sharpness and responsiveness of the controls went a little too far in the right direction. Combat controls also still feel pretty old school for a game that first came out in 2010 and was re-released in 2013, but it works for what Deadly Premonition is.

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Deadly Premonition is now something you can be proud to own.

Deadly Premonition took a great story and mixed it with such sloppy design that if it was any other game, it would’ve failed. Actually, if it had been any other game with the same attributes, it wouldn’t have even been as polarizing as it was. The original just found that sweet spot to make something that would probably be an F-game into at least C-game. With the additions to the story, the technical fixes, and the slightly revamped graphics, Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut has become a much more solid game. It still has a lot of growing to do and can become better, but as is, it is worth your money, especially if you don’t have the original version. It’s a toss up if you’ve already got the original, pretty much just depending on whether or not you want more context in the story and a smoother design.

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