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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Review


Although some reviewers have been comparing this game to past Silent Hill entries, the comparison is slightly unfair. Silent Hill: Silent Memories is the first Silent Hill game specifically designed and published for the Nintendo Wii. And it shows!


Graphics


The first thing that a player will notice is the time and effort that went into the graphics for the game. Any gamer can agree that compared to its rivals, the Wii is decidedly underpowered in the graphics department. But this game can almost make you forget that. The development team squeezed every last drop of performance out of the Wii console. From environmental effects to cutscenes to gameplay graphics, there is no doubt that this game will be seen as a testament to what the Wii is capable of.


Another of the astonishing things about this game is that it does all of its graphical wizardry with barely a hiccup in frame rate. The only noticeable stutter is when going through doors. But you can't blame the game then either, because there is next to no load time. Think about it. In past Silent Hill games, it took up to 10 or 15 seconds to render one room from another. On this game, it barely takes a second, at worst.


Gameplay


The gameplay behind the game is engaging, but was a little bit lacking. It is extremely innovative to psychologically profile the player as he/she plays the game. Although the game did a fantastic job at using every possible motion control on the Wii, the puzzles they presented the player were pretty lame. I remember getting stuck only once in the game when I didn't realize you could switch seats in the car scenes in order to open doors. Every other puzzle was pretty much a breeze. I remember solving one puzzle without thinking about it at all, merely experimenting with the controls. The puzzles could have used more false-solutions. For instance, in one puzzle, you may have to move three pieces of wood in order to get a key. In the game, the only thing that can be manipulated is those three pieces of wood. It doesn't take a rocket scientist after that to manipulate those pieces of wood in the right order. The game should have presented you with other objects that could be manipulated in that puzzle. Maybe, more useless pieces of wood, or some other false control in order to make you think.

Also, there are several "following" sequences where you follow an NPC to your next destination. They help move the story line forward with idle conversation, but other than that, are not engaging in any way. You simply walk past non-descript city to your destination. The least they could have done is placed some eye-candy to marvel at as you progress.

Finally, during "nightmare" episodes where you are trying to run from enemies, it can be extremely frustrating that you have no idea where you are going, and don't have enough time to look at your map before being dog-piled by enemies. It's no fun to run in circles away from enemies, just to have your enemies wear you down slowly to your death without you even knowing where you were supposed to be going.


Story


As far as storyline, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories provides at least as much depth as all previous games. I still haven't figured out all the meaning yet. At its heart, it is still a psychological horror game and definitely makes you think. With many stories to piece together and the mother of all plot twists at the end of the game, it provides the wonderfully twisted world of Silent Hill in all its splendor. This is definitely one of the best Mature rated games on the Wii.

As far as replay value, there is some. You can change your psychological profile answers to not reflect the truth and replay the game with different enemies, and even in some cases at different locations. Although there doesn't seem to be any reward for playing the game a second time.
In my eyes, this is a must-buy for any Wii owner who enjoys mysteries and adventure along with a fright or two. Don't forget that even though this is a Wii game, it covers mature subject matter. Most will not regret buying this game.

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