Silent Hill

Format: PSP

4 012927 061275
Age Restrictions: 15+
16 November 2007 it began. A beautiful lakeside town, a young girl, her mother, a doctor and a lonely trucker with a troubled past. In this prequel the mysterious past of Silent Hill is unveiled as you confront unspeakable horrors and personal demons. See the darkness descend...

Silent Hill: Origins tells the tale of a solitary truck driver, Travis Grady, who gets stuck in the terrifying town of Silent Hill while making a routine delivery. He quickly discovers the locals aren't quite normal, and neither is the town. To complicate matters, Grady is confronted by crippling memories from his troubled past. He must escape from Silent Hill while resolving the memories that have plagued him since childhood.

If you've ever wondered just how the town of Silent Hill became the eerie mess that has been seen over four previous Silent Hill games, then this new PSP title will reveal all, as this game is a prequel to the events that have gone before.

Origins captures all the creepiness of the original Playstation game. For best results, you are advised to play this in a darkened room while wearing headphones. Yes, it may sound corny, but the truth is that there are a lot of noises that you can hear on the headphones that you won't really pick up as well through the PSP's speakers. Stick your headphones on, turn up the volume and you'll hear your heart beat loud and clear - which also helps to tip you off if your health is running low. The atmospheric sounds are incredibly haunting - and if you don't soil yourself when you meet your first beastie then you really have become desensitised to horror games and should probably seek medical help. Actually, if you really do soil yourself you should probably seek medical help too.

And while we're on the subject of creating the right atmosphere... no Silent Hill game would be complete without Akira Yamoka's haunting score. So, it was a relief to discover that for this game he's pulled out all the stops to produce some of the best music yet for the franchise.

Basically, like the other games in the franchise, you are constantly moving between two realities. You can switch between both realities by simply finding a mirror and crossing over to the other side. This allows you to access areas and objects not available in the other reality, and it's a simple case of moving between the two as you explore your environments in a bid to find out what on earth is going on.

The game gives up its secrets at just the right pace - it's not too hard as to be frustrating, but equally it's not so easy that you can play through in an afternoon. And herein lies the first minor problem with this game. While the save points are well placed, the fact that you have to do a lot of flipping between reality(?) and the mirror world means that if you put this game down for a few days and then come back to it it's not overly easy to remember where you were up to and what you were in the middle of doing. While the map can help in this aspect, it's still a game that it's best to be engrossed in for long periods at a time.

One of the aspects I found to be a bit of a pain was down to the camera (yes, that old chestnut raises its ugly head once again). In some instances, where you move from one camera to another, it's easy to become a little disoriented. To ease confusion (I assume) the developers have configured the controls so that if, for example, you are travelling left in one camera angle and the next angle you appear to be moving in the opposite direction then even though you are still pressing left you will move right on screen. Unfortunately this doesn't actually work in practise. As soon as you see the new camera angle you are more likely instinctively to change the direction button to ensure that you are heading in the way you want to go. Unfortunately this means that you'll just go back the way you came. This can be most annoying especially when you are trying to escape from a monster.

You can now lock onto different enemies, which is very helpful if you are being attacked by more than one creature. And if you are a little slow you can find yourself with a beastie wrapped around you. If this happens you simply have to follow the on screen instructions to get the little beastie off you. This usually involves repeatedly tapping a certain button.

As you examine your environment you'll unearth weapons, ammunition and bits of useful information that will help you work out why the streets and buildings in Silent Hill are home to a bunch of deformed creatures. The weapons should be used sparingly. There's not a whole lot of ammunitions available for the guns, and if you overuse other weapons they can easily break, or get stuck in a creature you're attacking.

Silent Hill: Origins is one of the best games I've played on the PSP. It's got a great story, fantastic graphics and is as creepy as you can get. Fans of the previous games will lap this up. This is one of the latest game I've played that I'd recommend everyone should own.

Nick Smithson

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