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Shattered Memories made me shatter my Wiimote!

Reimagining of the original Silent Hill does not mean improvement.

When I think Silent Hill, I think revolting monsters, shock value and creepy atmosphere, terrible fighting system, and general mind-melting confusion when it comes to plot. You get all of this, but with some huge changes, and surprisingly, they actually managed to make a game that I think is worse than the original Silent Hill for Play Station.

The basic setup of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the 2009 Wii game by Konami is that you play as Harry Mason who is looking for his missing daughter in Silent Hill. After that, there is very little in common with this and the original game. The first thing that strikes you when you start playing is the camera. It’s kind of like 3rd person over the shoulder, only the cameraman is a gay midget, because the camera is always aimed at Harry’s butt and Harry takes up most of the screen. It’s actually more annoying than the PlayStation camera angles.

The flashlight is somewhat cool, because you point the Wiimote at the screen as your flashlight. Yet like all Wii games that use the Wiimote in this way, it can be somewhat problematic at times when you have to interact with objects that are not entirely intuitive. This applies to the phone system as well; your phone is your link to everything, it includes your map, save system, photos, and messages, but it doesn’t always come naturally.

Harry will explore the real world and uncover clues about where his daughter is, interacting with other characters like our familiar nurse and cop, though even these characters are very different. Just when he seems to be getting a lead, he enters Silent Hill world. There it seems hell has frozen over; everything is icy, which is problematic because everything looks the same. Harry will then have to run from a shload of monsters that look basically the same (something like fast nurse monsters).

The objective in Silent Hill world is to run as fast as you can, avoiding this boring and endless stream of enemies, through tons of rooms, doors, and hallways that all look the same, until you happen upon the correct route of escape. It’s hard to use the map, because it doesn’t pause the game, and everything looks the same anyway. There may be a simple puzzle to solve. Eventually Harry wakes up in the normal world, to start the process all over again.

Survival horror is about knowing when to run and when not to run. This game is all about running, because you can’t actually fight enemies. You can only knock them off you if they jump on you, or scare them with flares, or knock furniture in their way to impede them. Frankly, it sucks. I miss the days of the melee weapons, and the guns with limited ammo. There is no sense of conservation of supplies because there are no items. You can collect “memories” which serve no real purpose for gameplay or narrative. There is also no health system; you can take a certain number of hits before you go down and have to start that whole area over again, which is almost as frustrating as save points can be.

In addition to the main story, there is a disjointed and fairly uninteresting set of side notes. They come in the form of texts, voicemails, and photos. It takes a somewhat investigative approach, wherein you must approach certain locations of spiritual disturbance, which is a neat idea. However, it includes so much useless information from the regular people of Silent Hill who do not matter and are not included in the main plot, and it does not enlighten any aspect of the back story of Silent Hill. Very frustrating.

The only interesting thing about this game is that your adventures between the real world and the ice world are broken up with encounters with your therapist. You get to answer questions that reveal something of your psyche and personality, and your reactions and choices are reflected in the game, for example, in characters’ reactions to you, their outfits, etc. Your choices affect the game, and even if it’s not always in significant ways, it’s a cool idea.

Overall, this game is a lot like the previous Silent Hills. Terrible cameras, annoying enemies. The end leaves you confused, freaked out, and somewhat disappointed. Has a few cool ideas but doesn’t really deliver (see Silent Hill 4). The differences? No fighting, not as much of a creepy atmosphere, and unfortunately not a very engaging story. If you’re looking for a re-imagining of Silent Hill, play the original on an emulator.

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