A return to Silent Hills roots
Volcano be damned, i just finished Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and while it was worth the wait, i'm not sure i fully understand what i just played.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a remake of the original Silent Hill on the first Playstation way back in 1999 and, story-wise, it doesn't mix it up too much. Harry Mason is travelling with his Daughter to Silent Hill when they have a terrible accident. Harry wakes up and his Daughter is missing, so he sets out to find her. Harry finds that the town is not as it seems, and the town randomly freezes over every now and then, which brings terrible creatures out that chase him down and try to kill him. As you move along in the story you meet different characters that help you to uncover the truth of the town, as well as the truth about yourself.
I liked the story, but the ending left a lot to be desired, with many plot lines left to be explained. Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying the game needs to explain every single thing that happens, it's obviously the developers choice to not give too much information away, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more of an explanation for those certain sections that i look back on now and wonder, having finished the game, why and how that happened if this other thing happened at the end of the game that changes your whole perspective.
This game is a change for the series in that you have absolutely no weapons. You cannot fight back, your only means of protection from the creatures are your legs, in that you can only run away. If they do manage to grab a hold of you, you are given directions on how to shake them off, by simply moving the Nunchuck and remote in the same direction. This adds an element of fear to the game that may not have otherwise been there. Knowing that your only choice when faced with these creatures is to run, makes for some tense situations.
The Wii controls scheme adds a lot to the atmosphere as well. Using the remote as your flashlight and guiding Harry with the nunchuck is a very simple and effective way to play the game. Opening a door isn't just a simple button press, you have to move the character forward through the door, and use the flashlight to search the room for monsters as you enter. Opening cupboards, drawers and even birthday cards, requires that you push A and B together, like you would be pinching or grabbing something, and then moving the remote in the direction you need said object to move. It's quite a smart idea that i have never seen integrated so well into any other Wii game.
The Wii remote acts as your Mobile Phone as well, drawing you even further into the world. When Harry's phone rings, the noise comes out of the Remotes speaker, and as you answer it you need to hold the Remote to your ear to really hear what the person on the other end is saying, usually it's something terribly creepafying, but other times it's incredibly useful to progress in the story.
The game has a Psychology Warning before it starts, stating that the game Psychoanalyses you as you play and the decisions you make in the game effect how your experience will be. Each chapter of the game starts in a Psychologists office where you are tasked to do some psychological tests. From a simple true or false quiz to colouring in a picture to arranging ink blots into what you perceive to be sexual or non sexual images, this all supposedly changes the experience as you play. The game gives you a run down of your personality after you have finished, and while some details were definitely accurate about me, some were way way off. Having only played through the game once i'm not sure how dramatic a change occurs if you do just one thing differently, but be sure, i will be playing through again just to find out.
Silent Hill proves that the Wii isn't as weak a piece of hardware as other game developers would have you think. From the detailed character models and animation, to the real time shadows and lighting that are produced by Harrys flashlight, this is truly a showcase for how powerful the Wii can be if a developer just puts in the effort. The framerate is fairly smooth, only dipping a slight bit once you walk outside and shine your torch on everything, but it doesn't get so bad that you stop playing. If only the Wii was capable of High-Def...
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does so many things right that it's easy to overlook small mistakes or plotholes. This is a very story driven game and isn't at all an action adventure. It's slow and methodical, but if you just go with it you will have a very enjoyable time. The game is short though, and there isn't much replay value unless you want to see how the story changes with different decisions you make, so if you can rent the game from somewhere, that would probably be my recommendation. As an experience though, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories will stick with you after it's over.