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Xbox 360 Game Review

Silent Hill


Format: Xbox 360
RRP: £49.99
4 012927 033135
Age Restrictions: 18+
Available 27 February 2009

Alex Shepherd is a war veteran who has returned home from an overseas tour of duty to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his younger brother, Joshua. His travels lead him through the small, insular community of Shepherd's Glen and eventually through the hauntingly empty streets of Silent Hill. Struggling with his own grip on reality, Alex must unravel the mystery behind his nightmares, discover the truth behind his brother's disappearance, and confront the evil that lurks in the seemingly empty streets of Silent Hill...

Many moons ago I used to turn the lights out and play the original Silent Hill game in the dark. I wasn't very old and still remember how creepy the experience was. That, and the early Resident Evil games, were responsible for many a sleepless night - both through fear and because I'd play them in to the small hours. Since then I've never played a game that's managed to capture the same weird atmosphere... until now...

The atmosphere generated in Silent Hill: Homecoming is one of the most spooky and intense you're likely to encounter. This is a game that you'll get the most out of by playing in the dark and with your surround sound turned right up so that you can hear every noise in the vicinity - such as the electrical discharge caused by broken lights and squeaky doors. But, your heart will really start racing when you’re running away from an enemy, such as the dogs, with the eerie sound of the patter of their paws chasing after you.

Each area that you have to work your way around has its own unique collection of noises: such as the howling of the wind in the cemetery and sometimes the odd slab of grave or a brick wall crumbling away, or perhaps the noise of water when in a sewer - making you wonder whether it was you, wading through the water, or some enemy lurking underneath.

The biggest let down with Silent Hill: Homecoming has to be the cut scenes, which can be very dull at times. Also the animation is a little creepy down to the fact that the characters teeth barely move and the movement is a little jumpy. There is also the fact that in one part of the game you watch the pyramid head walk past and then, when you have to go the same way, you realise that there was nowhere it could have gone.

The new combat system is a great addition. Here you can choose what fighting style you wish to use on your enemies. There are three different melee weapons, each with its own style. There's the knife, which is fast and mobile but also short and weak. Then there’s the steel pipe, which is fairly versatile and is capable of being swung at a reasonable speed, allows for a long reach and is able to deal some average damage. And then there’s the axe, which is slow and hard to move with, but packs some serious damage when it strikes. Each weapon has its own finishing move on each enemy to make you feel superior when you kill your opponent in a stylish fashion.

There are also several guns, including a pistol, a shotgun and rifle. Each of these weapons has an easy aiming system which lets you choose where to fire. Every weapon has a powerful upgraded version, which can be found at different parts of the game - such as the steel pipe being changed for a crowbar, or the pistol changing from some average gun to some fancy looking powerhouse.

As you go through the game you will meet loads of different and bizarre enemies, which all have there own disfigured and creepy looks to them - such as the schism, which look like someone with their head flattened, then cut in half. Other opponents, like the nurses and ferals, are near to their real form but disfigured in one way or another. The most impressive looking monsters have to be the bosses, which are extremely bizarre. One of them appears to be a massive doll, covered in blood, that tries to crush you. There's also a creature, made out of an assortment of arms and legs, which slightly resembles a caterpillar.

The attention to detail is also worthy of note. Crypts in the cemetery have details about who's buried there; and there are patient records in the hospital. Wherever you go there will always be information to check out and keep you amused.

Another interesting aspect of this game is that there is a completely new town to explore call Shepard Glen. A new town means a completely new town background, so the people who love Silent Hill’s background history now have another town to discover.

One of the few major negative aspects is the inability to switch the camera controls. While you can invert the aiming while using a firearm, you can't invert the camera when you want to look around your environment.

Silent Hill: Homecoming is a game which you’re going to love and hate. You’re going to hate it because you’re always on edge and petrified to open every door, but you’re going to love it because it's one of those games where you feel like you’re the main character and every single noise or movement is going to physically affect you. Personally... well, let's just say I've taken to sleeping with the hall light on again recently.


Carl Simpson

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