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  Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Review

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LeeRain
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PostSubject: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Review    Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:39 pm

Silent Hill like you’ve never seen it before



Many Silent Hill fans would agree that the series has slowed down considerable since Silent Hill 4: The Room hit the market. The series started out strong, and kept getting bigger and better (though some hold SH2 above SH3). The series has always been known for its excellent quality of scare-tactics and chilling atmosphere of a quiet town gone to hell.

Silent Hill 1 was a classic scare-fest, Silent Hill 2 brought back the horror with the terrifying Pyramid Head, and Silent Hill 3 brought the series back to the first Silent Hill’s storyline. Silent Hill 4 got a lot of criticisms from its odd “Room-to-World, back to Room, go to new world, back to room” setting. For whatever reason, many fans of the series did not really like it. Silent Hill Origins, however, did a decent job of bringing it back to its roots, by providing a prequel explaining why Silent Hill 1 happened the way that it did. Next was Silent Hill: Homecoming, which many believe was just as bad as Silent Hill 4, having too much inspiration from the Silent Hill film and expanding Silent Hill 4’s story.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a very interesting addition to the Silent Hill mythos. Climax Studios, the team that brought us Origins, announced this game as a “re-imagining” of the first Silent Hill for the Wii, PS2, and PSP. They’re aim was to take the series back to its roots, while also make some innovations. They aimed to remove aspects of combat and add more emphasis on the atmosphere of the town and its hosts of nightmares.

Before I go on, I will say one thing, and I’m only going to say it once: This game is not in any way whatsoever a remake of Silent Hill 1 (or a re-imagining for that matter). Do not pick up this game and expect it to be the same game with an updated presentation and control scheme, because it is nothing like that at all. It is a stand-alone title and is meant to be treated as such.


Graphics – 9/10



All I can say is WOW. The presentation of this game is superb. Everything is detailed down to the shadows of small cans on the ground to the snow falling from the sky to the flickering of a ghost on a nearby bench. I initially played this game using the Video-Out function on my Television and it looked like I was playing a PS2 title. This is a leap up from the graphical quality of Silent Hill Origins (Which is excellent in its own right). Climax made this game look beautiful.


Sound – 9/10



Akira Yamaoka has done another excellent job with the game’s soundtrack, with what could possibly be their final Silent Hill soundtrack (As you know, they have announced that they’ll be leaving Konami soon). All of the instrumentals have been implemented to fit the situations perfectly. There are calm, flowing tunes when Harry is exploring the streets of Silent Hill and terrifying beats when the Nightmares take over and you start into a chase sequence. As would be expected, headphones are a must for the game’s full chilling experience.

Also notable is the selection of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn tunes that play during the credits. As always, her lovely voice will take you to another world with new tunes like Hell Frozen Rain. The sound work is done excellently.


Gameplay – 8.5/10


The gameplay of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a little different than previous SH games. The first notable feature is the new Psych-Profile. The game warns you of this when it first loads up, and does exactly what it says. It studies how you play the game and will change how certain scenes play out, change personalities, and even changes endings you get based on what you do and don’t do.

The main gameplay is divided into two sections: Therapy Sessions and travelling through Silent Hill. Therapy sessions have you in a room with a therapist (whom is a Dr. SH1 veterans know well) and you go through questions and exercises during each session. Sometimes he has you coloring pictures, matching photos together, among other things. All of these are a big part of the Psych-Profile and effects will be seen as you explore Silent Hill.

Exploring Silent Hill has you traversing Harry around various locations in and out of Silent Hill. The camera is an Over-the-Shoulder viewpoint, and moving around feels similar to games like Resident Evil 4. As you travel the town, there are certain things you have to look for, like puzzles, doors, gates to jump across, etc. to be able to get to where you need to be. You may have to look for quite a long time before you actually get to your location until you get a feel for how the game progresses. You’ll also have your trusty flashlight with you at all times to turn on and off, as Silent Hill is a very dark town.



Gaining items and solving puzzles are very interactive. For example, if there is a key inside a coat pocket, you go into First-Person-View and have to manually open up the jacket and lift the key out with the analog stick (Which is really innovative, especially for the Wii version of the game) Also, all of the puzzles are not out of place. They’re all things you could expect to find in a deserted town, rather than some of the ridiculous puzzles of past SH games.

Harry gains a cell phone about 15-20 minutes into the game, which houses a number of features. The first is the map (Which is accessible as you walk, but you can’t run with it on), which is standard for Silent Hill games. Another feature is the ability to take pictures, save them, and view them in the game (This is crucial for “ghosts” found throughout the game). There’s also a Text Message and Voicemail built into the game, which you will be using frequently as some people love to send Harry weird messages and calls. In addition to that, there are a number of phone numbers you come across throughout the game, and you can call each and every one of them. Some of them are useful, some aren’t, and some are just plain funny.

The final feature is the Save Game feature. Take note of this. Once you get access to the phone, you can save anywhere in the game, even if you’re in the middle of a chase sequence. This is an extremely nice feature to take advantage of. The cell phone is also the source of the famous static noise the series is known for. It will happen when you’re in the Nightmare world around monsters and when you’re near Echos, which are items that have a story behind them (which you receive via text message or voicemail)

The Nightmare world will take over every so often in the game, and it is very different than it has been in the past. When this happens, the entire world will be covered with ice in a matter of moments. After this happens, a new “Wayward Point” will become available, which is basically just the game telling you where you need to head. During your journey to this, however, you will notice that the deep freeze has obstructed a lot of the town. Buildings have been turned around, streets have been uprooted, and there are hideous monsters lurking around every corner ready to jump all over you.



This is where the gameplay gets interesting. In a normal Silent Hill game, you could pull out a shotgun or pipe and bash at the monsters until they die. However, Harry Mason is supposed to seem helpless in Shattered Memories, so aside from throwing a monster off of you, it’s impossible to fight them. You could try if you wanted to, but you’d only get yourself killed. Nothing can hurt or kill the monsters, so all you can do is RUN for the exit. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.

Many of the Nightmare sequences get very hectic as you’ll have multiple monsters (who can run much faster than you) on your back at once and the road to the Wayward Point is never strictly linear. You’re going to have to use your map to find a path to the goal and hope you can make it before the Raw Shocks (monsters) rip you to pieces. You may not have much appeal for these at first, but once you get deep into the game, these sequences will have your heart pounding on end and nearly all of them will have you feeling like you’re not going to make it to the end.


Story – 8/10



The storyline will be difficult to explain without giving out spoilers. The game traverses from Therapy Sessions with the player, and then goes to show Harry exploring Silent Hill, in search of his missing daughter, Cheryl, when she disappears after a car crash.

In essence, this game is a re-imagining of Silent Hill 1, as you’ll be running into many familiar faces, like Dahlia, Lisa Garland, and Cybil Bennet, but remembers one important thing: This is NOT Silent Hill 1. You may see them, but some of them are dramatically different than they were in the PS One original. There are also some new characters appearing, like the lovely Michelle. Just know before you play that they’ll be different and don’t expect to recognize them right away either. Like I stated earlier, Shattered Memories is a stand-alone title, and should be treated as such.

One thing to note, though, is the normal ending (There are 8 different endings, but the normal always comes through on your first run). Silent Hill fan or not, it will make your jaw drop. You will never see it coming.


Online Support

As with all Silent Hill games (and as all SH games should remain), Shattered Memories is solely a single-player experience. I do not expect Konami to ever make SH a multiplayer game, as the atmosphere is highly dependent on you being the only “person” out there.


Overall – 9/10

This game is like nothing anyone has ever seen from Silent Hill before, but Climax has done an excellent job at bringing the series to a whole new front while keeping the Scare aspect of the game stronger than ever. Some argue that Shattered Memories’ atmosphere is equal to, or superior to that of Silent Hill 2. This is a must-have for any Silent Hill fan and for any PSP, PS2, or Wii owner who wants a good scare or two.

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