Review by takidigits
"The "re-imagining" of the survival-horror classic falls short."
I am a long time fan of the Silent Hill series, so it was with great anticipation that I was looking forward to this game.
I can honestly say after finishing it that this game is not worth the $30 admission price.
Story: This is a "re-imagining" of the first Silent Hill game, and it is not simply a recreation or revisit. The characters have the same names, but they are not always in the exact same role that many of us remember. For example, Doctor Kaufman is now a private practise psychiatrist/psychologist instead of a medical doctor who works at the local hospital. The game puts you into the shoes of a person who is undergoing psychiatric treatment for some various disorder, and throughout the game you are required to take several "tests" that supposedly change the game based on how you answer them.
Unfortunately, there are actually very little changes the game makes regardless of how you answer, and because of this the game lacks any sort of impact at all. This "psychological" aspect was highly touted by the developer as the story's motivation, and the story is where this game could have excelled. Instead, it just flounders miserably.
Graphics: The graphics are actually the high point of this game. This game uses a noise-filter so that the screen has that "busy" look to it, and this actually works very well. For a game that is extremely late in the Playstation 2's life cycle, it looks very, very good.
Gameplay: The game gives you the illusion of being able to explore the city at your leisure, but in reality the game structure is incredibly linear and doesn't really give you any freedom of exploration at all. During the "normal" sequences the game seems like it's trying to build suspense, but there is no motivation for feeling this way. There are no enemies or conflict of any sort during these "normal" sequences. The game also has the "nightmare" sequences where you have to run away from your enemies in what amount to "mouse-in-a-maze" chases. You use R1 to look over your shoulder to see who, if anyone, is chasing you. I understand that the developers wanted you to feel helpless by not including any weapons in the game, but I feel that this decision was a huge mistake. Instead, these "nightmare" chase sequences seem tacked-on as an afterthought, and they simply end up being frustrating instead of scary. I think the developers were going for the same feeling that you got while being chased by Scissorman back in the first Clock Tower game, but they just didn't hit the mark.
Controls: The actual controls are very decent. Left stick moves you forward, back, left and right (strafing), and the right stick is used for looking around. These are standard controls now for most third-person-style games. L2 is used to run, and R1 is used to look behind you. R2 is used to zoom the camera in on items/places/people of interest, and this is integral to exploration. I think the thing that bothered me most about the game's controls was the use of the cell phone. Trying to access and look at the gps map on your cell phone WHILE you are being chased seems to be expected, but in reality you end up swarmed by enemies while trying to do so. This ruins trying to look at your map because the game doesn't pause while you do this. Using the left direction on the d-pad as a hotkey for the map is okay in practise, but you still have to click "X" again to enlarge the map to see where to go. So, my take on the cell phone controls is that they are clunky at best and downright awful at worst.
Sound: The sound effects were creepy, and that is to be expected in a Silent Hill game.
Music: The music in this game is very good at creating a suspenseful mood, and this is one of the few things I really enjoyed about this game. I would have, however, appreciated a bit of the music from the actual first Silent Hill in this game.
In closing: I really, REALLY wanted to like this game. But sadly, in the end, it just failed to deliver on so much of the promise it showed. If you really want to play Silent Hill, please, if you have a PSP or a PS3, pay the $5.99 at the Playstation Store on PSN and buy the Playstation classic. It's cheaper, and it still holds up years later as one of the best survival-horror games available today.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/21/10
Game Release: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (US, 01/19/10)
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