Review by WRRYYYYers
"A long time fan of the series is severely disappointed by this game."
I am a long time fan of the Silent Hill series, as the review title may imply, and I must say that I was severely disappointed with this game. It looked to have so much promise. There are some improvements over others in the series, but they are generally overshadowed by its flaws.
Silent Hill: Homecoming has you in control of Alex Shepherd, a 20 something War Veteran who was discharged due to an injury in battle. It's about his search for his missing brother Joshua, whom he feels is in great danger due to dreams he has had. When he returns home, he finds that things are much worse than he had feared.
The one thing I did enjoy about this title was its improved combat. No longer are you stuck feeling like battling is a chore, because of the revamped combat system. Now, in a style reminiscent of Resident Evil 4's over-the-shoulder view, you will be able to shoot, hack, slash and dodge your way through all the monster you come across.
The addition of dodging seems like it would allow you to actually dodge their attacks, but at times you'll find yourself timing your dodges perfectly only to get hit in mid-roll. The enemy AI also seems very inconsistent. Sometimes, they will sit there happily while you chop their limbs off with an axe, and at other times, they will attack you constantly, not even allowing you to move or act after getting up from being knocked down.
However, with the improvements do come flaws. For one, there is no way to invert the aiming system, which can instantly turn off people who are far too accustomed to such. The fact you can't turn yourself without turning the camera means you'll often time find yourself walking backwards and sideways, and this controls somewhat awkwardly.
There are now doors and passageways that require specific weapons to get through, (i.e. a knife to cut through thin barriers, an axe to cut away boards and a pipe to pry open doors) as well as hopping over, ducking and sidling through passageways makes moving about a bit more interesting that in previous installments.
The story of a Silent Hill game is most certainly its defining feature. This being said, I feel that in this department the game was an overwhelming letdown.
The characters feel so unfamiliar and like strangers throughout the whole game, and they barely show any personality. In contrast, the previous games had me sort of feeling the struggle of the protagonist, and actually caring about the outcome. Alex's personality is dull and listless, and is probably the most prominent of all the characters, which really speaks for the supporting cast. Add in the cliche'd female friend/damsel in distress and you have what makes for a fairly boring and generic storyline, with a disappointing ending and fairly predictable plot twist.
The graphics are an obvious step up for the series, due to being on a next-gen console and all, but by next-gen standards, the graphics are not anything impressive. The character animations feel sort of stale and clunky, and nothing really stands out. The environments are dark and creepy at times, but they seem to suffer from looking a lot alike. None of the areas really stand out to you.
The enemies in this installment are fairly well thought out and each are fairly different from each other, although they bear striking resemblances to past enemies of the series. The bosses are all unique and look quite breathtaking and somewhat frightening, and are fairly epic in scale.
Another weak point is the voice acting. Sure, weak voice acting tends to be par for the course in this genre, but this continues the trend woefully. At times, it was not even possible to hear what the characters were even saying, with my television volume at an adequate level. Without the subtitles (which even on occasion did not match the spoken dialogue), I would have not been aware of what they were saying sometimes.
The game takes about 10-15 hours on the first play through, with subsequent each play through probably taking about 8 max. The replayability is found in the form of new costumes you can acquire for Alex, in addition to the game's five endings. For no explained or viable reason, there is a lack of Trophy support for this game, which is baffling due to the Achievements available in the Xbox 360 version of the game.
To be quite honest, I was utterly disappointed in this game. If you're a longtime fan of the series like I was, but are not sure about it, rent it. It's a definite rent in my book. If you're a newcomer to the series, it is most definitely not worth the 60 dollar price tag, and I would still recommend a rental, or even skip it altogether, as it is not a fairly memorable experience.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/06/08
Game Release: Silent Hill: Homecoming (US, 09/30/08)
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