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2:45 AM on 12.23.2009

Review of an Old Game - Silent Hill

Why am I posting this? I pretend to hear someone ask... Well, because as my fellow Pal regioners would already know, we aren't anywhere near Silent Hill Shattered Memories, a game that I very much want to play. I never really had a chance to properly enjoy the older series by team silent, I'd played bits and pieces, dabbled if you will. They instantly drew me with their oppressive atmosphere and truly f*cked up monster design, but I had never found myself with the time to run through them.... UNTILL NOW!, . after realizing how far off shattered memories was, instead of purchasing some other new release, (still haven't picked up modern warfare 2....) I filled in the gaps in my collection of silent hills, and dived headfirst into a survival horror binge of epic proportions. Thus I present to you my humble viewpoint on playing through the original psone Silent Hill!!

Damn is this game ugly. This was pretty much my first thought on booting this baby up, playing through my ps3 on my rather large lcd didn't seem to do the rather dated psx graphics any favors either, however since I still had a working older tv, and managed to find a psx in the garage.... (mysterious, is it my brothers? furthermore is it mod-chipped? I don't actually know.) I hooked her up and fetched some epic stereo speakers, and I was ready to dive into the game as it was back in the day, backwards compatibility? BAH! who needs that when retro consoles are just mysteriously floating around your garage!

Even with my super sweet authentic setup, the game was still ugly ugly as sin, my previous experience was with the second installment, and since I have been spoiled by all manner of modern wonders, and I was rather taken aback at the visuals, but hugely surprised at how little that actually mattered, the oppressive atmosphere was intact and unmistakable and I was soon drawn into my quest. that being the quest to find Cheryl I'm sure you've all heard about with regards to shattered memories. All of the standard survival horror tropes were well intact, tank controls, made more convoluted by the necessity to sidestep at just the right time to avoid damage, a lack of supplies, and a need to press x on absolutely everything in order to progress. standard adventure game logic applies, that being... not really logic. more just using everything on every out of place object you amazingly fit in your pants on that locked door until something clicks and viola! Find yourself wondering just how the hell the mechanism in that door actually works. and why anyone would build it.

Now I'm sure some of you are thinking, 'Well so far sounds to me just like a cheap resi rip off, why don't I just go play that again?' which brings me to the amazing thing about this game and incidentally the hardest thing to describe. Which unlike the graphics has stood the test of time amazingly, this game is confusing, hard, ugly, and has a draw distance of approximately bugger all. and it all adds up to be brilliant, it makes you feel exactly as the developer intended, there is something subtly off about this game, it messes with your head if you stop and think about whats happening, the creature design is superbly unsettling, and the environments perhaps even worse, and the change to the otherworld just pushes things over the edge into the truly terrifying.

Unlike Resident Evil, a series which I adore, You don't actually feel in control of silent hill, you can hoard your ammo and health supplies, but somehow through the simple mechanic of transporting you at random into an alternate dimension of blood and rust, the game takes what little comfort you feel with your surroundings and yanks it away, suddenly nothing makes sense, and the industrial sounds on the soundtrack truly terrify you, I don't think I had ever heard such effective use of music in a survival horror title before, and its not a genre that is bad with its use of audio. the soundtrack has a tendency to make you think things are there when they aren't, and the static from the radio to alert you of monsters reminds you to freak out when you can't see something but know it is. later on music is used to great effect in moments pivotal to the story, and all of the musical excellence just further highlights the truly terrible voice acting.

If you couldn't get past the voice acting in the early resident evils, oh boy will this ones turn you off. Resident Evil got away with the horrible acting, because the whole endeavor reeked of b-movie cheese. and horrible acting just added to the experience. I just truly wish resi had the talents of the epic chin, Bruce Campbell. it would have been gold. Silent Hill however cannot get away with this, this game is big on story, and comes away being far more than b-grade. The music, the use of the limited visual power on the psx on the bits that actually matter and the truly inspired art design push this game above most survival horror titles, and then harry opens his mouth and drags it back to the ground with a sickening thud.

It's a shame, and perhaps I'm being too harsh, because I'm spoiled. Playing things like metal gear and uncharted may have stopped me from being able to overlook terrible voice work. It isn't enough however, to stop me from whole-heartedly recommending Silent Hill to anyone with and interest in the macabre. playing through it is like watching a classic horror movie. if you can get past the dated techniques you will find an experience truly superior to modern offerings. I'm a huge fan of anything that attempts to scare me, and this one, well it was far more successful than anything I've played on the ps3. and I do have dead space. Go and pick it up off PSN if its available in your region, or if you can find a cheap copy, its just a shame I didn't have a chance to play this before, it would have rocked me hard, and if you too haven't had the chance, make the effort, its an amazing piece of game design.

I'm not going to assign a rating, I don't see a point with a game this old, just know that I thoroughly enjoyed it a highly recommend it, just stick with it in spite of its age and you'll find a truly unsettling experience.

Also I recommend being a little drunk while playing it home alone with all the lights out. yeah. see how that goes for you. I did. But being an Aussie, yeah. kinda expected.   read

9:33 AM on 12.22.2009

Reprints of Konami games!!

Just a quick blog, for any Aussie gamers out there, it has come to my attention that konami have been doing a limited reprint run of some pretty hard to find pal version games. so if you are looking for a copy of any of the ps2 silent hills, metal gear solid 2 substance, or snake eater, as well as a few others.... then now is the time to head to your local game traders, or whoever else is stocking them. Because they have BRAND NEW copies of em. pretty sure its limited stock though. I was chuffed with this, as I finally managed to ensure I had copies of every single silent hill game. so yeah, if you're like me and have been after those for a while (them being almost impossible to find now) thought I'd give you a heads up. ps- each one set me back 50 bucks, bit of a rip for games that old. but hey, better than a scratched copy off ebay that barely works.   read

12:47 PM on 12.05.2009

Sex, Nudity, and Censorship

Hi everyone, this is my first post so errr... yeah. excuse the crapiness, I'm no writer...

So earlier today I was working on a little project it seems like I've been doing forever, a somewhat amateurish graphic novel, that I can never seem to make too much progress on, and I was thinking about how I would tackle a sex scene, how much to show, tastefulness, and the impact on the overall story.

Now I showed my best friend some pictures, and she was asking why there are none of the girl naked, if I'm going to include sex then really, it seems necessary. and not having any nudity may decrease the intensity of the story and completely change the tone. plus, she says, 'Who doesn't like fun-bags?' from there the conversation got irrelevant, as we went off chasing the topic of fun-bags.

Later, sitting here drawing in front of my computer, my thoughts turned from the story I was trying to tell with my graphic novel to games, (destructoid being on-screen and all....) so I decided to make an account and share some thoughts.

Now being in Australia, yeah censorship. However something I would like to point out, though recently it feels far too many games are getting banned from their violent content, something Australia seems more lenient on is sex in games, I feel that we are far more European in that sense. I have been surprised to notice that some games in the past have had scenes meaningful to the plot cut for an American release, because of sexual content.

Case in point: Fahrenheit, or Indigo prophecy. (spoilers!!)
Now I'm unsure of how many of you would have played it, I personally thought it was flawed, but at the same time brilliant, but in the European and Australian versions of the game this actually contained nudity, and two sex scenes, one of which actually had you controlling the motions. Now this may sound tasteless, however it was actually quite important to the plot, re-establishing the relationship between Lucas and Tiffany, which served to heighten the emotional impact of later events midway through, would I have cared about tiffany as much without that back story? also late in the plot a sex scene between Lucas and Carla, which I found to illustrate the desperation of their situation. The world is about to end, and you're with the unlikeliest of companions. what would any human do? Now I haven't played the edited version, however I think that it would actually negatively effect the story if these scenes weren't present because I would have less knowledge of the relationship between the characters.

now after much meandering, my point. I want more sex in my games, and I want it handled in a mature way, I don't want fun-bags for their own sake (pleasant though they may be) but I believe by including more sex, they emotional investment in relationships in some stories may be greatly increased. I want to care not just about the characters, but about the relationships between them. sex is a fundamental part of human existence, and I certainly think games designers should be more open about approaching it. Simply put, take a break from the gibs, I think they've got the violence pretty much down pat, spend some time working on the other elements and crafting other ways of crafting a narrative. I'm not saying in all games, but in the ones where it is appropriate the shouldn't be afraid to include some action. I'm intrigued as to what will happen in heavy rain, and if it will make it to the states unchanged.

Heres the thing though people, I'm not sure how that would go down stateside if games were to include more sex. we may be currently getting our games slammed for violent content, (Damn you why take away AVP!!!) but even if games began tackling this most fundamental element of human interaction, even if in a mature fashion, would your lame ass media grab hold of it, and scare developers out of including it? Currently we may be denied our blood, but it seems our fellow gamers over in America are getting denied sex, and I ask you, which is more dangerous? leaving out any religious relevance, I see far more problems which wanton violence then I do with people getting down and dirty. And in general thats something I find fascinating about American culture, is it due to the large impact of Christianity in their society?

Anyways, I guess my rather disjointed point was this: I'd like to see deeper relationships in my games, and I think sex is one way to go about it, tackled in a mature fashion and without fear of the media, (seriously dragon age? artistic choice my ass) I think that it could greatly enhance the stories games could tell, and elevate the medium to a more mature level, besides, as my friend said, who doesn't like fun-bags?

Oh and... fuck you Atkinson.

peace out, and also interested to hear thoughts on this, feel free to call my an idiot for my lengthy and pointless spiel.   read

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