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.