By Daniel Cairns
Right. I’m going to do something you’ve not seen me do on this site thus far. I’m going to get serious for a moment. About a game. Yes you read that right. Our game section is looking a bit solitary at the minute, but once we all start pulling our fingers out a bit more it’ll be quite expansive I imagine. We’re all massive geeks really who play with manchild toys far more often than we should. No, not dildos.
So withouth further ado, say hello to Silent Hill! On the Wii!
That’s what you’d initially think anyway. Surely it’s just full of mini games, like playing ping pong with Pyramid Head yes? Nope! Surely, it’s full of utterly useless gimmicky controls, superficially adding innovation to a load of mediocre balls?. Nope, wrong again!
I’m going to say it. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does for Silent Hill, what Resident Evil 4 did for Resident Evil. Yeah, I’m surprised too.
It’s no secret that Homecoming on the big boy consoles represented a bit of a nadir for the series. It tried to ape the iconic moments of the earlier games, but did it in such a meaty fisted way that it was like Vinnie Jones remaking The Third Man. It’s a shame, because to my mind at least the franchise had been consistently excellent. I even liked Silent Hill 4: The Room. It was bloody terrifying. Seriously, I spilled my tea in the room where you find the giant head with the mad eyes.
Homecoming unfortunately dragged the name of Silent Hill down a neverending sweltering well of piss, but Shattered Memories sees it flying out of that well, dry as a talcum powdered bum bum, smelling of expensive shampoo and aftershave.
First things first, it seems like a remake of the first one. Harry Mason is back, looking every inch the buff, shut-in writer. As before he’s bellended his car, and his daughter’s buggered off while he’s been knocked out, so he pulls himself together and goes looking for his lost girl. So far, so 1999.
However! That’s where things change. The viewpoint for one. It’s been resi4’d. The camera’s behind Harry this time, so moving around the ghost town is better than it’s ever been. You also niftily use the wiimote (god I hate saying that) to point your flashlight at things. It’s also had a quite unprecedented graphical spruce up. This game looks like an Xbox 360 game at times, so it’s automatically one of the prettiest games on the wii.
Anything else? Oh yes. There’s no fighting. At all. Instead, when you come across a beastie in the nightmare sections (more on that in a bit) you’re told to peg it. It definitely makes more sense than bashing a flying zombie dog with a pipe doesn’t it? The developers realised what made the franchise so good, and poo-pooed the rubbish bits, meaning there’s also a minimum of trying to go through every door as well, resulting in a more streamlined, oddly enjoyable game. Silent Hill has been turned into a lean, mean pantshitting machine.
Not only have they exponentially improved the formula, they’ve gone and changed all the aesthetic crap that came with it. No longer is the town shrouded in fog. Instead, Shattered Memories sees the titular town in the midst of a bitching snowstorm, that gets more intense as the game goes on. It’s a veritable winter wonderland, meaning you and your family could play it round a roaring fire whilst Santa is emptying his sack down your chimney. Or not. Remember the nightmare worlds in the older games by the way, all bloodied rust and fleshy decay? No more! Instead the world freezes over and turns into some dystopian tundra (in realtime), meaning our nerdy hero needs to traverse a terrifying glacial assault course, whilst running away from monsters.
It’s when it’s at its most sedate though, where Shattered Memories proves itself a bit special. There isn’t much to do. You just wander around the town solving excellent wii-contextual puzzles, but it weeps atmosphere like puss from a wound. You know nothings going to get you, but every so often, you’ll get a shock. Besides, you’re always dreading the big freeze.
That’s all I’m prepared to say about the game itself, as you really need to go through it to appreciate just how smart it truly is.
And thank Christ, they’ve discarded the ‘evil secret cult’ nonsense, and gone down the route of Silent Hill 2, but I will say no more about that. The one mainstay from the previous iterations however, is composer Akira Yamaoka. His score is suitably varied, with ballsy pop numbers, Phillip Glass prettiness, and industrial terror. The man should be soundtracking horror films.
Oh, I’ve not even mentioned that the game psychologically profiles you, and actually changes depending on how messed up you genuinely are as a person, have I? Well it does. Again, I won’t say too much about that. Much better you go through it yourself.
I will sum up now though. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the best horror game in years. Whilst the likes of Condemned and Dead Space are relentless and gruesome and terrifying and ‘aaaaaaaaargh’, the new Silent Hill is sedate, relatively bloodless and creepy in a quieter, cleverer way. It’s a bit short (my playthrough came to about 7-8 hours), but you’ll have a suitably tense time going through it. It’s the most engaging entry in the series, and arguably the best. Even I completed it, and I’m rubbish at games like this. If you have a Wii, and lets face it you probably do, it’s well worth purchasing if you’re not predisposed to exercise games and Mario Kart. This is asking, nay… BEGGING for a sequel.
Buy it, or there’ll be Hill to pay!