I’m currently revisiting a few of the previous Silent Hill titles, so it’s with that frame of mind that I found myself viewing the latest footage and previews of the next in the series.
Obviously a lot of people are still concerned about where Double Helix Games, newcomers to the series, are going to take things. We’ve already seen that developers other than Team Silent can make a great Silent Hill game with Silent Hill 0rigins … but that doesn’t mean that Double Helix can.
I’ve not kept quiet my concern about the title after initial optimism. I think it’s pretty fair to say that Team Silent themselves far from had a flawless track record, and that each of the Silent Hill sequels have their fair share of problems… so its obviously a big test putting the game on display in front of all the press to relay their thoughts and concerns to the world.
In the Konami press conference, the developer seemed genuinely proud of the game.
It’s certainly starting to look pretty nice graphically for the first time. Silent Hill 3 pushed the PS2 so much that the character models still hold up as impressive to this day, so it’s not unfair of me to hold it to higher standards than most series.
I really like the latest design for the main character Alex Shepherd, and the lighting, textures and physics are all looking sharp. Of note are the real time transitions into dark Silent Hill which play out in real time in the middle of gameplay.
These look very much like they did in the big screen adaptation of Silent Hill, and that seems to be a recurring theme. I’m not sure how most people feel about that, but personally I’m pretty damn happy. The Silent Hill captured the aesthetics of the series perfectly, while giving everything a grittier and more believable bent. The nurses, pyramid head, the hotel, the town sign, the giant cockroaches, are all elements that seem to lean more towards the movie versions than the game versions. The ash is even back in the foggy Silent Hill. Feel free to speculate on what that might mean about the plot.
It’s an interesting choice (if it was a choice) but I’m definitely with them on it.
Control wise, the game has changed quite a lot. You’ve got a third person camera this time, and full movement to go with it. Aiming with guns will be done manually, rather than by using a lock. During combat you have an onscreen health bar (not so sure I like that). The enemies seem more threatening. One of the new enemies is similar to the straight jackets of old, except it’s burning inside, its rib cage occasionally busting open to reveal two red hot burning longs, pouring smoke upwards.
There is now a quicker inventory system (definitely a good thing) and dialogue choices when talking with people. Both positive additions.
Game Trailers have a number of videos, of both the version playable at E3, and last night’s demonstration. You’ll potentially see a few spoilers about the story, which sees the main character back from war, trying to find his younger brother Joshua, somewhat echoing the first Silent Hill… but if you’re having any doubts about the game its definitely worth checking them out.
Combat has always been a weak area of the series, so I’m not too worried about changes in that area unless it becomes too much of a focus (which it doesn’t seem to be so far)… and how the new camera system will affect things remains to be seen. All in all though Silent Hill Homecoming appears to be well on track to at the very least sit on par with Silent Hill 3 as a solid entry in the series.
Expecting more is a little unfair on the new team… but they’re certainly trying. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners should find out this September how they’ve done.
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