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It's quite surprising how a game franchise can be the influence for numerous films and games. Silent Hill is the exception, since we would expect no less from Team Silent.
The first game I played in the franchise was Silent Hill 3 around 4-5 years ago. It still scares me now as it did when I was 14. At that age all I wanted to do was kill monsters. But now replaying the game I've found myself less obsessed with combat, and more obsessed with the puzzles and storyline. This was the reason I picked up Silent Hill: Shattered Memories from the shops a couple of weeks ago.
I'd heard very good things about the game and one of those positive aspects was that there was no combat. None whatsoever. This intrigued me and so I bought it. After a couple of hours of playing the game I realised why the combat was taken out. It was taken out because it scares the living hell out of you when all you can do is run. In true Silent Hill form when the monsters appear the scene which surrounds you, changes. In previous cases it was a decayed, industrial scene. Now in Shattered Memories it changes to the 'Ice World' (which doesn't really need to be described).
The storyline is a remake of the original Silent Hill, another reason why I thought it would be a good idea to pay the reasonable price of £21.99. We follow Harry Mason trying to find his daughter, as it is in the first one. However we see this as a memory, since the protagonist is actually in a psychiatrists office, remembering what happened.
The controls for the game are very well done. I personally thought the controls from the PlayStation/Xbox/PC would be ported terribly, as it is usually the case with the Nintendo Wii. This again was another surprise. You use the normal Wii controller with the nun-chuck controller. The nun-chuck is used to control where the player goes, whereas the Wii controller is used to position where your torch is pointed, as well being used to control your in-game mobile phone. The phone is a huge aspect of the game, giving the player the ability to take photographs, call people and listen to voicemail (where to hear what is being said, you have to hold the controller to you ear as you would a phone, it becomes quite creepy), receive text messages, save your game, write notes and finally is used as a device to hear static (frequently used in the previous games, but instead with a radio).
The graphics and sound are also brilliantly impressive. With the Wii I'm not terribly impressed by the graphics, but on occasion I am. In this case I was completely thrown back off my chair. The lighting effects, combined with the use off the torch, produce an eerie atmosphere of dancing shadows. The textures throughout the game are much more impressive than your average Wii game (as well as looking better than many of the Silent Hill games). The shine that ice gives off when you're in the ice world can be astounding. The switch between the fog world and the ice world is again, impressive, there's no way to describe it and you would have to see it for yourself. Nothing has changed with the famous voice acting and soundtrack of the Silent Hill franchise, and is as creepy and spine-tingling as ever.
Character design is one of the main aspects of the Silent Hill franchise and is seen as Team Silent's talent in the gaming industry. Harry Mason is portrayed extremely well in this game, however I cannot compare him to the Harry Mason that was in the first game, though I have seen clips and in my honest opinion, I prefer the Shattered Memories version. Throughout the game we see the famous characters of the Silent Hill franchise including Cybil Bennett and Dahlia Gillespie. These characters change their personalities, depending on how the player answers the questions which are put forward by the psychiatrist. These scenes are in first person and depending where you look, how you complete the tasks given and the answers given the game changes. For example Cybil Bennett may be authoritative, sexualised or in her normal character state, depending on the questions answered. The monsters also change depending on this, they can be mutilated in certain ways and may also be feminised, linking to the symbolism of the protagonists' sexual repression.
Overall this is possibly the best game I've played on the way, with minimal flaws and countless advantages, it also one of the best of the Silent Hill series. Although it can not really be compared since it is a completely new and innovative style of gameplay and story-telling.
Being a more family orientated console the Wii has always been lacking in some of the more adult themed games. I really wanted a game that would not just entertain me, but also get my pulse racing just like that first time I saw the dogs jump through the windows in the original Resident Evil game. So when I learned that the Silent Hill franchise would be making its way over onto the Wii, I just couldn't wait to sample this survival horror game in all its dark and spooky glory. The game was released on 4th March 2010 and is basically a re-imaging of the original game in the series. This time around however the motion activated controllers of the Wii give this game a breath of fresh air. As with many other games on the Wii you, as the player are far more involved in the game than what you would be if using just your plain old joypad, and this game takes advantage of everything the Wii has at its disposal.
The game centres around the character Harry Mason a father who has been involved in a car crash with his daughter. When he awakens from the crash his daughter is nowhere to be seen, and so begins his quest to find her and discover just what is going on around him in this seemingly sleepy town. Along the way you are offered a number of different choices which will in turn alter the way the characters and scenes will appear and interact with you later in the game. The game takes place in three distinctive styles, firstly a form of exploration and puzzle solving, secondly in the "nightmare" sections which see Harry running for his life from faceless deformed creatures, and finally in a kind of psych evaluation with a doctor asking various questions on different subjects which will bare a relevance to the proceeding part of the game.
The game is played in a third person format with the action being seen from over the shoulder of the main character Harry. The unique control devices of the Wii are given a full work out as the Wiimote provides your character with the ability to look round and interact with objects such as turning door knobs or manipulating objects and the Wii Nunchuck providing your character with the means to move around the world of Silent Hill. Alongside these control abilities the Wiimote is also given a very interesting new function as the inbuilt speaker on it converts the Wiimote into a telephone to enable you to hear calls that you make or receive to your cell phone.
Despite the Wii's naturally low graphical capabilities in comparison to its rival console formats the games overall look is handled very well. Everything from the smooth and fluid movements of the characters, to the wonderful eerie backdrops that make up the game are among some of the finest you are likely to encounter on any Wii title. However it is the finishing touches that really show just how much work has gone into this aspect of the game as we see the chilled air being expelled from Harry as he breathes, and the spooky figures that suddenly dart past the corner of your eye and very nearly make you reach for a clean pair of underwear!
The characters voices, though not by world famous actors are all well played with the likes of veteran Silent Hill vocalist Mary Elizabeth McGlynn once more making an appearance in the gaming series with a beautiful rendition of the song "You Were Always on My Mind". The real star of the sound aspect of the game is brought to us via the Wiimote's cell phone ability as eerie voice after eerie voice is played down it just to keep the tension of the game as high as possible to the point of almost nerve shattering. Just like with the graphics the attention to detail is really quite remarkable with every aspect of sound being included in the game even down to Harry's breathing.
The game itself will last the average gamer several hours and due to the variable options that are presented to you along the way will lead the game into taking slightly different routes each time you play. Though the game doesn't have any real side missions (short of the odd collectible which seem to serve little to no purpose,) and is told in a linear form the game becomes so involving that playing it a second or even third time does not prove boring or repetitive to the player. So I would certainly say that this game does have a good degree of re-playability, however due to the sometimes jump-out-of-skin moments within the game some may find just the once round to be more than enough for the nerves to take.
Prior to this game I had not really played on any of the Silent Hill games so I knew very little about what to except from it in general, and quite honestly I was taken back with how I could have missed out on such an incredibly well crafted piece of gaming literature in the form of this series. Not only was I treated to a full immersion in just what the Wii could be truly capable of doing, but also I was shockingly entertained by just what the game was offering to me. Do be warned that this game is really not for the faint of heart or those in a nervous deposition as even the toughest of gamers will find themselves diving behind the sofa on some parts of this game.