Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - Putting You In The Game
If you're like me, you bought a Nintendo Wii around the time it came out. You thought it would be awesome after hearing about the new Zelda, new Mario's, and everything else that Nintendo promised. If you're truly like my, you were underwhelmed. Sure, there are some good games out there like No More Heroes and the core games like Zelda and Mario, but shovel-ware plagues the system. After buying into a few games, I slowly started to ignore Wii games and focusing all of my gaming on the "core" systems - Xbox 360 and PS3. So, it was with baited breath that I purchased Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Well, I can exhale now, because the game is good...it's damn good.
Silent Hill is a re-imagining of the original game you may have already played. It's not a remake, so if you did play it, rest assured you'll be picking up a new game when you play this. You play the game as Harry Mason (which sounded a lot like Perry Mason when I first heard it). Upon starting up the game, you see a home video where Harry's kid tells her father that she loves him. The scene is rewinded a few times until the game actually begins. Harry is driving a car and crashes on the side of the road. Upon exiting the car, he checks the nearby area for his daughter (who was presumably in the back seat) only to find that she has gone missing. After finding a flashlight in the glove compartment, Harry takes off for Silent Hill to find his daughter. It is at this moment, the game really takes a neat twist and introduces the part of the game I love the most...the psychological profile.
Silent Hill uses something no other game has ever done before (at least to this degree). You will be given a 10 question survey in the beginning of the game to see what kind of person you are. Some of the questions involve "Having a drink helps me to relax" and "I have never been unfaithful." Depending on what you chose to the true or false answers, the game will adapt. I chose that I have been unfaithful before and the game seems to have taken notice. I'm reminded of it every now and then and I'm noticing themes of infidelity throughout the game. Is this normal or was it placed just for me? I'm not sure, but it sure has me paying close attention. The game also learns from you by what you look at. For instance I came across a coupe pictures of scantily clad women throughout the beginning of the game. I zoomed in on them and Harry made some cat calls. From that point on, the monsters in the game had breasts. The cop pictures above has a heavy dose of cleavage if the game pegs you for a sex addict like it no doubt thinks I am. All in all, the game's psychology profile is a neat addition to a game that will learn and adapt to your play styles.
Psychology aside, Silent Hill: SM is an awesome game. Most of the game you will spend exploring with your flashlight and solving minor puzzles (some not so minor). When the world takes on an icy cold demeanor and ice forms everywhere, run like hell! This is when the monsters comes out. The monsters cannot be killed and can only be outrun. You don't even have a weapon to do any damage. The game will give you a checkpoint to run to and when you make it there, the story continues, the ice goes away, and the monsters retreat until next time. The only downside to this mode is that when there is no ice around, you know you are safe. It isn't so bad, but it would have been nice to have at least a little tension besides cheap startle moments in the "sage" areas.
The graphics in the game are about what you would expect for a Wii game. Being a 360/PS3 player myself, I know that when I buy a Wii game, I'm not buying it for the graphics. So, it comes as a nice surprise to find out that Silent Hill: SM has awesome voice work and amazing sounds. You'll believe the voice acting, even when it comes through your Wii remote in the form of a cell phone call. It will all be believable as you try and track down your missing daughter.
So, the $50 question, should you buy this game? If you own a Wii and no other consoles, without a doubt yes. This is a classic game on a system that doesn't have many hit games, third party no less. If you own all the systems and buying a Wii game means you won't be able to pick up a big name hit on your console of choice, then the question becomes a bit blurry. Luckily this game came out around Christmas so you may have some extra gift cards to spend, but if you don't, the choice comes down to this...how much do you like innovation and immersion in gaming. Silent Hill offers something new and different that a lot of other games don't...it studies you. Sure, it's not 100% personal since it's using generic questions and you could have the same game as someone else, but at least the game changes. You can play through the game a second time and see a completely changed gaming world due to different choices. Most are cosmetic, but it's nice to see something like this.
Hopefully this review gave you some insight into whether or not you think you'll like this game. I know that for me, as a huge "core" console gamer, I was shocked and delighted to find a "core" type of game on the Wii. I may just be playing the Wii a bit more in the months coming due to this game and the resurgence in the Wii it created for me.