Released originally in 2004 for the PS2 in Japan, Michigan: Report from Hell (and later in 2005 for European markets without Suda 51 even knowing about it) was not the most well received game. It was a clunky, odd, almost adventure-esque title by a relatively new developer known as Grasshopper Manufacture (who would later gain a larger following with such hit titles as Killer 7 and No More Heroes) that had a rather odd premise. The idea is that you play as a camera man and are fresh on the scene of a bizarre series of murders, disappearances, and a thick, mysterious fog billowing through the city of Chicago. Now for most Americans this might have already been confusing considering that Chicago for all intents and purposes is not actually in Michigan, but the developers didn't make a mistake. They were actually referring to the large body of water bordering the city of Chicago, Lake Michigan.
But with all these strange goings on and possibly dangerous settings, one might assume that we'd be thrust into the usually survival horror cliches of foraging for ammo, evading evil monsters with tank controls, and inevitably having to blow up Chicago...that's not how Suda works though. Instead as a camera man we are fairly limited in what we can do personally. We are merely directors for our reporter, not only keep them safe but also to keep uncovering the story (or at times to make the reporter the story by not assisting them in times of need or filming them in compromising positions for sweeps week). So that means we will be merely pointing out things of interest for our reporters and be spectator to the events ahead, though there will be a few times when we'll definitely have to take a more proactive role. So without further delay let's get to meeting our co-workers and get to the difficult task ahead of being a top-notch cameraman (and not a pervy asshole).
So we've got something mildly different this time around in that I do want to be informative but it's also fairly difficult to take this game seriously. So I've decided to get my pal Deceitful Penguin in on some ummmmm less informative versions of the updates, as well doing my normal informative manner. So the normal Youtube and Dailymotion (yes, I had to go with Dailymotion because Blip was not agreeing with my Michigan videos but if you give it a gander you'll see it actually looks extremely good) are for you people that want to know the story, game play, and all that good stuff. The Talky version are for those that would rather hear me say nonsense while Deceitful Penguin remains confused...it's all good stuff.
(as envisioned by Post Processing)
The main character and silent star of the show, the Camera man is what you make of him. Stoic pillar of journalism doing his best to keep a level head in a dangerous situation; apathetic, soulless muck merchant looking to score the juiciest story no matter the cost; or possibly a perverted jerk who wants nothing more than to film underwear and cop a feel on victims of tragedies. We'll be doing our best to play him as clean as possible, but there's just times when the game will force us down the path of darkness.
Jean-Phillipe Brisco is our sound man and what is the news without sound? Well I suppose it would just be like a silent picture but we're not about silence right now. We're about sounds and emotions and inspired thoughts, and Briscoe has that in spades. Some might even say he's got a bit too much of these qualities but he will be our constant companion for the game and hopefully you enjoy hearing him scream....it's about the best thing he has to offer.
Pamela Martel is our first reporter and is considered to be Zaka TV's star reporter (or at least is considered as much by our sound man Briscoe). Professional and inquisitive, she embodies what most would assume from a plucky news reporter and as we learn from Briscoe's own words "She really throws herself into her work"...it just doesn't work out so well when her work involves the open mouth of a monster. We sadly don't get to spend too much time with Pamela, but we'll be seeing enough of her to last a lifetime.
Ann Anderson is our second reporter and is apparently Pamela's former friend and now rival. We get to first meet Ann in the International Hotel and while she seems competent enough, she's described in the manual as 'cold'. Not that the game really expresses this in any way, shape, or form. Instead she seems just as empathetic as Briscoe and quickly shows off her caring side regarding random strangers and her former friend Pamela. Hopefully she'll last a little bit longer than her friend.
Carly Reis is our third reporter and quite honestly she seems to be out of her depths (and for good reason). She's apparently one of the normal news anchor people at Zaka TV but that means she rarely is out in the field like her other Zaka TV counter parts and that can be considered a bit of a double edged blade. The good is that she's a lot more considerate than Ann, but the bad news is that she doesn't do so well under pressure.
Nina Volkov is a temporary companion we find after a rather nasty crash in the dense woods of Chicago. While found unconscious she quickly shows that she is no slouch in the bear killing department. Sadly though we do not get to keep her company for very long.
Justine Rhoades might not be the best reporter around or the least likely to be strapped to a pool table, but she's got spirit and she's also the only living person around it seems (well besides the chief at the Zaka building, but the chief can't stoop to helping us). Otherwise Justine seems to be an easy candidate for mostly likely to die while trying to get a scoop, so let's see how that goes.
Deborah is the chief of Zaka TV and quite the awkward conversationalist...or is it all just a clever rouse? Does she and Zaka have some more sinister plans up their sleeves? How is she able to keep safe in the middle of all the fog? And why is Brisco so willing to do her bidding? There's a good chance none of this will ever be answered.
Paula Orton is our final female reporter in the game and is apparently the youngest and least trained of the bunch. But when everyone else available is pretty much dead then you don't have a lot of options. The question becomes though...why is she so calm with most of the grim nonsense going on? Does she have some closer connection to Zaka than we realize or perhaps she's hiding some deeper secret.