Review by RiddlerOne
"I have been to Hell, and all the doors are LOCKED !!"
As the review guidelines state, a "7" is for a good game with a few problems but it was worth the time to play. That, in a nutshell, sums up Silent Hill : Homecoming. It was a good game overall, but there were definite problems within ... some were minor annoyances, but some were significant enough to impact the gameplay and experience.
Let's begin with the GAMEPLAY.
GAMEPLAY - Score - 7 -
I really liked the new way that combat was implimented in this Silent Hill game. The addition of a dodge feature made it imperative to learn an enemies' attack patterns (especially the bosses) and then utilize the new dodge feature (implimented using the circle button) to perform counters and counter-attacks accordingly. There were times when this could become an exercise in frustration, especially if you were battling near doorways or within a confined area, but overall I felt this was done well. It didn't work nearly as well when using the pistol or gun however, as the reticule moved too slowly if equipped on the fly to get a shot in before you were hit. As for the inclusion of an invert feature for the weapons, why aren't you allowed to invert the camera control as well. For someone, like myself, who plays the inverted camera controls ( I always feel like I have my 'godly' hand on the back of my characters head ...if I push forward on the stick, his head should move downward and vice-versa ). Many times I would be trying to run from an enemy and unfortunately be looking at the ceiling instead of the ground and not be able to manuever properly ....this proved frustrating when it seems like they could have easily made both controls invertable and eliminated this issue. Also, as my tag line suggests, this was BY FAR the most linear Silent Hill game. There was usually only one path you could possibly take, as every other door was either jammed, blocked, or had a broken lock. There were many instances where an extra building interior to view or a path to open would have been a nice diversion. You go to the doctor's office, there's one door you can enter .... you go to the prison, none of the door switches work and I guess all the guards take the keys home with them.... you go into town, and they really need a new locksmith as the doors are all broken. You get the picture. In this day and age of sprawling environments like Fallout 3 and Oblivion, such claustrophobic and linear game design seems lacking. Also, the lighting of the environments was buggy at times. Sometimes, the visual acumen needed to spot an health drink or item would frustrate a hawk's visual senses. Turning up the brightness seemed like something you don't really want to do in a Silent Hill game ... the darker the better I always felt for the creepy factor, but the lackluster glow attached to some items made turning up the brightness almost essential. Another mixed bag proved to be item management system. I absolutely LOVED mapping the items to the R1 and L1 buttons ... one for the offensive items, and the other for the health / story-line items. However, the problem occurs when the CANCEL feature for the health items DOESN'T work!! If you accidentally highlighted your serums, which refill your health AND increase it, and then press cancel ... the game STILL uses the serum when you exit the screen!! Definitely a "WTF" moment ... and one where I replayed an ENTIRE boss fight ( the huge doll ) because of it. I don't know ... if I hit freaking cancel .... why didn't it cancel ?????
SOUND - Score - 8 -
The sound was exceptional overall throughout the game. Creepy at times, and intense at others, the sound really conveyed the atmosphere of a Silent Hill game. Even when the sound was stifling, like the turbine engines in one section, this was done well, and really made you feel like the people who were forced to work there probably complained to their superiors about needing earplugs !! The voice acting in the game, as well, was very well done. I thought it made the characters become more plausible and realistic. Dialogue between characters never seemed stilted or forced, and conveyed a sense of familiarity between them. As in previous Silent Hill games, the crackling radio static to warn of incoming enemies worked well, and gave that sense of other-worldliness behind the foggy exteriors.
ATMOSPHERE - Score - 7 -
I was wavering on this score between a seven and an eight .... as on the one hand, I thought the sounds, foggy eeriness, and enemies lent this game a creepy vibe and an urgency I hadn't felt in the Silent Hill 4 : The Room entry into the series( which by the way, had the worst gameplay element EVER .. the un-killable enemy ). However, on the other hand, I can only remember two, perhaps three, times when this game truly spooked me. Maybe we are all becoming jaded gamers, due to such inundations as Left 4 Dead ( 1 and 2 ), Resident Evil 5 and Dead Space we have become immune to the 'shock and awe' techniques applied by today's titles. I never really felt like it was survival-horror, as the only obstacles to my surviving this horror was how scarce they made the health kits in the first half of the game. But by the prison, since I was packing 4 first aid kits(refill health completely), 3 serums (which increase your overall health PLUS refill your health to maximum) and 5 health drinks I felt like Mike Tyson taking on a 4th Grader in a fight ... BRING IT ON DUDE !! I was really complaining about how tough the game was in the first portion, but in retrospect, that's the way it SHOULD have been .... nothing worthwhile ever comes easy!
REPLAYABILITY - Score - 6 -
The Silent Hill games have always been about the several different endings and obtaining those. This game is no exception, BUT, you do not have to replay the entire game to get the different endings this time. The first 'divergence' in paths occurs past the halfway point in the game, so there is absolutely (in my mind) no reason to replay the first several chapters unless you have nothing better to do. The endings, meanwhile, seemed generally vague and very "Silent-Hill-y" in nature. I will always remember the first Silent Hill's UFO ending though for being the first " I spent all that time to get THIS!": moment in video game history.
OVERALL - Score - 7 -
I really think this was a good attempt at a next generation Silent Hill game. They saw how Resident Evil had raised it's game, and they tried out some new ideas. For the most part, like combat, dodging,and item management, they worked well enough to see a really exceptional title coming in the future. Some other taints from the past remain, however, like endless locked doors, glitchy camera controls, and poor visibility of essential items. In a nutshell, Silent Hill: Homecoming is a worthy FIRST entry into the next generation fray, but should pale in comparison to the NEXT entry.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/03/10
Game Release: Silent Hill: Homecoming (US, 09/30/08)
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