Review by renaclaudeshaus
"Silent Hill Homecoming is Home"
When the first Silent Hill game came out, it was considered to be the close rival of the Resident Evil series. And to the majority of Silent Hill's fans, the game trumps Resident Evil in atmosphere and depth of story. A close decade and a couple of new Silent Hill games after, in the generation of the Xbox360 and Playstation 3, we get to experience a new horror. Silent Hill Homecoming is considered the 5th game in the main series. Published by Konami and developed by Double Helix, we are promised to revisit the eerie town in the eyes of a brand new protagonist, a bigger amount of support characters, and, not to mention, a horde of disturbing and challenging enemies. So what sets Silent Hill Homecoming apart from the rest of the previous titles?
Silent Hill Homecoming's gameplay is pretty much the most obvious answer. The combat this time around mainly focuses on the use of melee weapons. You are required to fight your way through monsters using only your trusty knife or the ever so classic lead pipe. Add into the hero's arsenal some firepower and you'll be sure to punish some of the more meaner baddies . Still, melee weapons are still the heart of this game's combat, since bullets are way too few. The good thing is, you will really try to understand every melee weapon's strengths and weaknesses. The knife is short but it's the easiest to wield, the axe packs a punch, but might be too hard to use when facing a very nimble enemy. Another thing that they added is how you maneuver Alex when confronting enemies. Alex can dodge/evade enemy attacks, making combat a little more strategic than ever before. Timing is key to this new mechanic. If you dodge an enemy attack at the right moment, you can unleash a counter attack that can stun enemies, allowing you to execute a finishing move. There are some annoyances in the combat mechanic, like some of your button input don't take effect right away. The controls will, at first, feel clunky, but with practice, combat is indeed actually pretty fun. If this surprisingly effective combat mechanic gets polished in future installments, Konami will see it's survival horror baby a competitor of Resident Evil, without being an action game.
Some minor gameplay additions include the first person view which grants you to see the world more intimately, the dialogue tree which makes character conversations and interactions feel deeper, and also, determines the kind of ending you'll get.
If you loved the first person view in the latest Metal Gear game, you might not be so pleased with the use of this feature in this game. While it's useful in some instances, like locking on to an item that you can't really see in third person, for the most part, it is useless. There's nothing really interesting to look at in first person view in this game. This also reveals the game's graphics lacking in detail. Even character models lack depth, save for Alex himself. This may have been due to the fact that the game has the largest amount of support characters ever seen in a Silent Hill game. Make no mistake, the graphics is still good, though, it could have been better.
Perhaps the strongest link in this game is the story. Although a bit more conventional compared to the first two, and no,longer that mysterious, it still has an intriguing plot that will make you want to play some more. Story development starts out slow but it picks up pace after the first half of the game.
In the sound department, everything is awesome. Akira Yamaoka returns as the music/sound composer for this game. And once again, he doesn't disappoint. The cool use of ambient sounds work hand in hand with each scene. There are also instances that the background theme sounds too good for a specific scene. Although, sound has always been one of the most sought after part of Silent Hill fans, and in this game delivers, it's not without flaws. Sadly, the game's glitch affects the sound effects too. Sometimes you'll hear the background theme carried over to the next area, or, the background music completely disappears. Considering the amount of development time that this game has been given, this issue should have been addressed and corrected pre-release.
Overall, beyond Silent Hill Homecoming's hits and misses, it's still an enjoyable game that every fan should definitely play. If the combat mechanic can only be improved and removed of glitches, the next installment can prove to be a better Silent Hill without being an action survival horror game.
+Grows on you melee combat
+First person view
+Decently scattered/numbered health items
+Challenging normal enemies
+You can briefly roam two towns!
+Excellent ambient music/sound/OST
+Informative loading screens
-Game/sound glitches can be annoying at times
-Graphics could have been given more attention
-Controls could have been more responsive
-Save points are too far apart
-Environment interactions are scarce
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/24/08
Game Release: Silent Hill: Homecoming (US, 09/30/08)
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