Games Meet Metal: Okay, who didn't pay the heating bill? Silent Hill Shattered Memories: The Riff Review

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Okay, who didn't pay the heating bill? Silent Hill Shattered Memories: The Riff Review

I'm a very admitted fanboy of the first three Silent Hill games. The represent to me what "terror" can be in a digital context. Silent Hill 2 is the best in the series, but part 3 had the best "WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?!?!" scene out of the entire series.

Holy fucking Jesus, did you see that shit? The room became pulsing flesh! I needed a fresh change of undies after that bit. As good as that scene was, it sadly marked the high point of the series, as consecutive games haven't proven as good. SH 4 was too much of a chore to play thanks to it's central hub system and irritating ghosts the just wouldn't die. Or re-die. Or wherever ghosts go when they need a break. Maybe some sort of celestial Starbucks. The portable SH: Origins couldn't snag me. Then SH: Homecoming did a few things right but felt overly bland.

Now Konami has given us SH: Shattered Memories, a "re-imagining" of the first game, and "re-imagining" is a very appropriate word. Our protagonist, Harry Mason, gets into a car wreck in Silent Hill, but his daughter has gone missing when he awakes after a nice bump on the head. Other than a few returning character names, that's about the only semblance Shattered Memories has to it's origins.

Our first new component is the very first scene with a psychiatrist. The shrink will give you several tests through the game to examine their psychological profile on several subjects. Family, marriage, guilt, and sex are all brought up. Your answers to these little quizzes will determine how the game's characters will act around you and also directly affect the ending. It's in these scenes that the game's best bright spot shines: the voice acting. Konami footed a nice bit of change to make sure the characters weren't voiced by Resident Evil rejects, and it helps big time.

Also new is the look of Silent Hill. No fog, no bottomless chasms, no baddies chasig you through the streets. Instead, you get snow. Lots of snow. So much snow, that the streets become blocked full of the white stuff, thus conveniently taking you in a linear path through the game. Also gone are the drab greys, browns, and greens that the city itself was usually colored with. okay, so they went from three colors to six, but throwing in some blue, red, and yellow in the mix really helps change it up.

So, we have good acting, a decent graphical change, and an interesting play mechanic. So, we're all good, right? Hold your horses there Sally. There's some non-awesomeness happening here that needs to be addressed. Let's start with "combat". Note the quotes? Good! Well, remember the best part of Silent Hill? The conversion of the regular world into a gated, rusty hell? The kind of place that would make Lucifer say, "Dude, that shit's not right?" That's gone bye-bye as well, replaced with a frozen wonderland. This is where the baddies finally make their appearance, but their attacking prowess has gone down quite a bit. Before they were hitting you with knives, clubbed hands, and whatever monstrosity they could whip your way. Now they must have turned all hippie, as they try to kill you with cuddles. That's right: HUGS! Even then, they're still one up on Harry, as all he can do is shake them loose and RUUUNN!! That's what these frozen areas really are: a big race to the finish line, where the world returns to normalcy.The worst part is that there's no decent explanation why Harry has to do these little races against the forces of evil.

Speaking of plot, the storyline's ultimately very weak. Harry loses daughter, meets people with every day problems (well, one dies, but that's her fault for not getting proper medical attention), bits of amnesia, then BOOM! shock ending. Granted, some Silent Hill plots have been a little shaky, but this was just paper thin. And remember those psyche tests? The ones that change people's opinions about you? Turns out the changes aren't too dramatic. Maybe a tinge more hostility here and there, but the changes are cosmetic at best. The biggest differences are in the ending, even though the end result is still the same. And it only takes six hours to get to that result! Now, the game's designed for multiple playthroughs thanks to the shrink's testing. But when you start seeing that the changes aren't that big, where's the incentive to keep playing?

So, what's the end result? A game that could of been much more, maybe even groundbreaking. I feel the psychology tests have a place in gaming, but it needs a better game to truly expand the concept. The great voice acting is wasted on a bad and too short script. And the decent graphics engine is used to make ice look nice, and everything else average.

Final score: Meh-core, but you should rent it at least once, just to see the psychological part of the game.

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to buy it because it isn't for rent anywhere. I might can find it in the bargain bin one day. ~GH