Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Reviewed by Jan 28th, 2010

Though the rest of world probably has forgotten by now, those who have followed Silent Hill long enough know that there were rumors going around for years about a remake of the original. I scoffed at the idea. You shouldn’t fix what’s not broken. Time passed, and this happened. It’s not a remake at all. The characters may have the same names, but they are not the same people. It’s also different because there are no weapons, but more on that later. I have heard a lot about the way this plays on the Wii, and that it makes a lot of use of the Wiimote, but you will have to go elsewhere to learn about that. I don’t have a Wii, so I waited for the PSP port. The controls seemed fine to me, though.

The game starts off with a silly intro text about how the game profiles you. A “psychology warning.” I groaned, but imagined this could be fun, also. The questions seem a bit generic. “Do you makes friends easily?” Predictably, owing to my responses, everyone in the game was a misanthropic asshole. Your responses affect some of the areas you can get to, but not enormously so; what people are wearing (i.e., if Cybil’s tits are hanging out of her shirt or not); the wording of the phone calls and memos, and how people treat you.It does add to the replay value considerably.

The survival horror genre has more misses than hits, and I’m not sure where this falls. Clock Tower for Playstation made great use of your main character hiding instead of fighting enemies; though you were physically pretty helpless, there were tricks you could use to outsmart baddies. Resident Evil for Playstation had places where it was best to run from approaching hordes of zombies, but in other places, I felt like Rambo with my acid rounds, obliterating zombie scum. The Silent Hill series has been a mixed bag when it comes to combat, especially now that a few different teams have worked on games, and the protagonists all have different strengths and weaknesses. The first few games used different tactics to put the “horror” in “survival horror.” Sometimes they would make ammo scarce, making you choose whether you should run away or risk your health by using melee weapons. Other times, they would throw several baddies at you at once, so you had to run. Occasionally, they had enemies you could not harm.

SH:SM eschews the whole “what weapon should I use?/Should I run?” questions and just eliminates weapons altogether. That’s right, you don’t even have a kitchen knife. Unlike Travis in Silent Hill Origins, you cannot use your fists, either. All you can do is run. This is not to say you don’t have any contact with monsters. When they grab you, you have to shake them off. But there is no real combat and no boss battles. The first nightmare sequence did have me on the edge of my seat, but after that it gets a bit repetitive and feels rather pointless. It lacks a scare factor after a while because it’s too predictable: (1)Explore for a while, knowing that no enemies are around. (2) Wait for everything to freeze, run around and shake off baddies until you reach the end of the sequence. (3) Lather, rinse, repeat. The rest of the nightmare sequences are just tiresome and don’t add much to the game. Chase sequences can be used well. Silent Hill 2 had the Pyramid Head/elevator chase sequence, which was nicely done. Adding tiresome, long chases pursued by enemies you can’t kill just sucks. I had to say it. The chase parts suck. It’s also easy to get lost in the forest, where everything sort of looks the same, even with the map. I would just run and run and repeatedly get killed by the stupid monsters. I haven’t let out such long, colorful strings of curse words since I last played the end level of Marble Madness for NES. Eventually I got the hang of these parts, but they are still somewhat annoying.

The story is the strong part, though, and it changes a lot depending on how you play the game. The cellphone actually helps a lot too. There is a GPS feature, which you use like the maps in the other games, and you receive phone calls and text messages. You’d think that would kill the whole Silent Hill atmosphere, but somehow, it doesn’t. It’s still pretty bleak (though in no way scary), even when you’re receiving weird phone calls. You also get to do some spirit photography. More intriguing than the past few Silent Hill games, and a worthy sequel in any case.

4 Responses to “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories”

  1. Worthy sequel? Are you kidding?

    If all they’d done was SH1 with better graphics, it would have been perfect! Which brings me to another dissapointing fact: the graphics. The heck? SH Origins had great graphics on the PSP, where they in a hurry to port this and left all the good shaders/textures/polygons/particle effects in the bin?

    Also, the psychological-test-thing? If they’d just did the whole thing at the beginning, I could go through a coherent story.

    What I hate most about the Nightmare sequences is that I can’t look at the map while running. Well, how the f*ck am I supposed to know where to run then? Not that there’s any hurry though, all the monsters want is a hug after all.

    And what’s up with the Nintendo/No weapons policy yet again? The f*ck?

    Honestly, I could have imagined that after so many iterations they’d at least get the remake right. Turns out putting any faith/hopes into any remake is wasted effort.

    To anyone considering to buy this: Treat yourself to Silent Hill 1 or 2 at your local gaming store, it’s the smarter choice.

    March 21st, 2010

  2. No, I’m not kidding. And I would’ve hated SH1 with “better graphics.” I think SH1 was perfect the way it was. There is never going to be a game that is as good as SH1 or SH2 for me, so I think SHSM is good for what it is: a sequel.

    You can’t look at the map while running in the other games, either.

    I agree though, if someone doesn’t already have SH1 and SH2, they should get those instead, first.

  3. Well, thinking graphics-wise, I like to bring up System Shock 2, whose graphics update (done bythe community) was more than necessary to enjoy it again, without rough pesky pixely edges or low-poly models. For example the dog in SH1 looks like a cardboard cutout to me when I see it, and could be done better today, without sacrificing anthing huge.

    While I couldn’t look at the map while running in the former games, as you’ve previously mentioned, it at least paused the game to give me time to orientate.

    Oh yeah, I remembered another thing I don’t like about the remake/re-imagining: You are not alone anymore. Silent Hill 1 always felt like you are truly alone in the whole town, while now it seems like every house is inhabited. Doesn’t really add to the atmosphere that you run into a person almost every 3 minutes.

    March 22nd, 2010

  4. Haven’t played SS2. While it could be improved if done right, I just can’t shake the feeling that they’d do it WRONG. Do the dogs have to be realistic to be effective? I don’t think they do. I think they really made the best of what they had to work with on the PS1. The colors are well used, the light and dark, the lack of visibility, etc.

    I think it pauses if you zoom in, but yeah, the map sucks in general.

    Yes. And this is why it would kill me if they did a complete remake of SH1. I know they’d mess it up and add a bunch of characters, stuff that kills the atmosphere, and so on. Again, if I want to play SH1, I will play SH1, not SHSM. There will never be anything that lives up to the first 2 games, so I have lowered my standards as far as that goes, I guess.

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