Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Developer: Climax Group
Publisher: Konami
Systems: Wii (reviewed), PS2, PSP
Release Date: Dec. 8, 2009
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: A cautionary tale featuring ice... and cell phone cameras!"

0:00 Even though others have called it the greatest game since sliced, uh, games, I wasn't a huge fan of Silent Hill 2, the only Silent Hill game I've actually played. So my expectations aren't super high for this one. But hey, that means they have nowhere to go but UP!

0:01 I like the static TV signal on the preview screen. If only that bright blue title didn't ruin the effect. 0:02 "Nunchuk is required," says the screen. Nunchuk is acquired, says I. The title comes up and is quickly replaced by a white on red "Psychology Warning: This video game psychologically profiles you as you play." I don't have time to read the rest, but I am somewhat bemused by this over-the-top omen. 0:03 The title screen appears again, crackling free from an icy prison. I hit A and B on the Remote and see a grainy VHS tape of a child running along a white picket fence. His dad scoops him up and the tape pauses, complete with a big white "pause" in the upper left corner. The "Profile Select" screen rudely pops over the video. As the scene continues a bit, I realize the child is actually a little girl, who waves at the camera as I bring up the options screen. Let's "Play Game."

0:05 The tape continues as if it never stopped. The little girl loaded into car, then we cut to a park of some sort. "I love my daddy!" says the little girl as as she puts her head though one of those cardboard face-replacer things that makes her look like a damsel in distress and him like a dragon. The tape rewinds to the beginning and the scene plays out again. And a third time, as the credits roll over top. I love the shaky camera work and the elegant piano music. The tape turns off. Heartbreaking.

0:06 In a dark office now, a well-dressed man sits staring at a laptop. As the man gets up, we cut to snowy roadway at night. Inside again, the man is at the bar, putting ice in a drink. More great camerawork, with some odd, low angles. The character models look a bit otherworldly, but move in a pretty lifelike fashion. I'm digging the largely silent storytelling so far.