Review: Silent Hill:Homecoming

Samoftherocks | 6 Oct 2009 17:00
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For those just now sitting down and playing any of the first four Silent Hill games, you will find a deeply atmospheric offering, surrounding a rich yet simple storyline that centers on the evil lying deep within the bowels of the town they take place in. The characters change, the enemies change, the bosses change, but the ever present fog which clouds the horizon does not. The small beam of your flashlight serves as a guide through the darkness, and adds to the claustrophobic feeling of the unknown closing in on you from all sides. Survival Horror the way it is supposed to be.

And then there's Silent Hill: Homecoming.

Many of the issues largely have to do with how this game measures up to its forebears. Underneath all these issues, however, there is still a game worth playing. Where the first games were a mish-mash of crazy camera angles, off-screen danger, and frail by design protagonists, making their trouble swinging a huge pipe all the more believable and also the more frightening, Silent Hill: Homecoming abandoned these things in favor of a strict 3rd Person Shooter, and by doing so, missed the point entirely.

For experienced gamers I say this, Silent Hill: Homecoming is merely Resident Evil 4 with a Pyramid Head facelift. Lemme explain...

The controls are standard for a 3rd person shooter: Right stick controls the camera, which immediately sent up a red flag for me because the danger lurking off a fixed camera is far more palpable than that of any enemy that can be seen by a player-controlled flick of the stick. Quicktime Events are ever present throughout the game, most of them segueing into grindy-fetchy land, where the player needs to find the object du jour in order to open the door du jour. Most of the time though it seemed the designers couldn't decide whether to make the character jump and compromised on "mash button at every obstacle to do something."

In between key quests, enemies clumsily jump out of various dark enclaves, garages, etc, and combat ensues. Combat can be boiled down to strict use of the dodge and counter buttons until you locate a gun, and then continue to use dodge/counter until you get the chance to empty your entire armory into an eager to please boss fight. Serviceable is the best way to describe the boss fights. Not terribly easy, but lacking the overall sense of panic that you're supposed to get out of really any boss fight present in most of the games you play.

As I said above, in all of the original games the main focus of evil is the town itself, Silent Hill, but for some reason the designers decided to throw us a curve ball by changing the locale. Shepherd's Glen, so-named in an attempt at Lovecraftian foreshadowing indicated by the protagonist's name, Shepherd. Specifically, Alex Shepherd, a recently discharged soldier who returns home to search for his little brother, Josh, the focus of all this dodge/counter, key search, and button mashing.

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