Review by PSXGirl
"A Fresh Twist on an Old Favorite"
Labeled as a re-imagining of 1999's Silent Hill, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories offers a story that is just as familiar to fans of the original game as it is unfamiliar, likewise providing a new and interesting environment for those not so well acquainted with its predecessor. The premise remains forever unchanged. You still play as Harry Mason, a man who's just been involved in a car accident and is searching for his seven-year old daughter, Cheryl, but as you progress, you begin to realize that you're not quite in the Silent Hill that you know and love. Areas and characters maintain familiar names and (somewhat) familiar faces; however, it is only to this small degree that the two games compare. Soon enough you'll find that, at its heart, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a completely new experience, and it does not heed to the boundaries of the imagination set by the original. Though older fans are apt to make comparisons between the two, Shattered Memories is better off being seen as its own game, with only very basic connections to the series' beginning.
The soundtrack for Shattered Memories is Akira Yamaoka's last in the Silent Hill series, and while it has its highlights, for the most part, it's painfully repetitive. At times it feels as if a single song has been playing for hours, which indeed makes it a refreshing experience when a new song finally begins, but it's wearisome and oftentimes dull. The soundtrack falls far short of its predecessors and is far from Yamaoka's best. However, despite the fact that the graphics are not quite up-to-par with the beautifully realistic ones offered by the PS3 or Xbox 360, for a late PS2 game, they are everything that could possibly be expected and more. The otherworld, in particular, pushes the PS2 to its limits with its absolutely stunning ice-covered environments.
The game begins in the office of Doctor Kaufmann, a seasoned therapist ready to take you on as his new patient. The game's major selling point is its ability to watch the player and change itself based on both their actions in-game and in Kaufmann's office to create a more personal experience. Right from the get-go, the doctor hands you a form to fill out consisting of several true or false questions and after you've finished, the true game-play begins. Based on your answers, everything from who you meet and where to what they're wearing and how they act is changed. In one play-through Cybil may be an aged woman in an average police uniform, and in the next she may be a sultry seductress with a low-cut neckline and tight leather pants. The game is quite perceptive, and if you answer truthfully, it makes for a significantly more interesting experience.
The town's bloody and rusty otherworld infested with monsters and other endless horrors has been swapped for a nightmarish world of ice, where you're forever chased by creatures that appear almost human. The creatures, much like the characters, change alongside your choices and actions, ranging from horrid monsters with geometric faces to almost womanly figures in the dark. Unlike in other Silent Hill games, however, you cannot fend them off with weapons--in this game, there are no weapons. Instead, you can only run, using the occasional flare to fend them off for a limited amount of time. This is useful in situations where you're absolutely swarmed with monsters, but for the most part, the ice levels are almost stupidly simple, save for being very, very easy to get lost in.
Shattered Memories is an extremely linear game. At all times you have a set destination and a path to get there, and by taking away the fighting element, nearly all items, too, have been removed from the original formula of the Silent Hill series. There are various mementos' and echoes' to run around searching for, though save for out of genuine curiosity on your first few play-throughs, there's no real reason to go around collecting them. The mementos have very little effect on the ending, and tend to be a general waste of time in the long run. The echoes actually provide quite a bit of insight into the storyline, but they tend to be better saved for your second play-through, in the aftermath of discovering the secret behind Harry's missing daughter.
That being said, this game does have a rather high replay value. As mentioned previously, your answers to Kaufmann's questions, as well as your actions in game, influence your ending immensely. Going through and trying something new the second time around is well-worth the effort, if only to enjoy the somewhat different experience and a new ending you haven't yet seen. There are five endings in total, each one completely different from the next and giving the you an entirely new perspective on the man you've been playing as all along. As is customary, this game also includes a UFO ending which is definitely one of the funniest in the series and well worth a replay to experience.
All in all, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does what it set out to do. It offers the player a unique experience based upon their attributes, as well as interesting game-play mechanics and a truly shocking conclusion that fits the formula laid out by its predecessors well. The game is different, and pleasantly so; it is a fresh twist on a truly wonderful classic, and well worth picking up at your local game store.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/11
Game Release: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (US, 01/19/10)
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