|System: PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Double Helix Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 30, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
Halloween is almost upon us. I can now officially devote myself to playing eerie games and watching horror movies throughout October to get in the mood for All Hallows Eve. Thankfully, Konami and Double Helix Games kick off the month with Silent Hill: Homecoming, the fifth installment to what some consider the best horror series ever. However, does this latest title deliver on the spook factor of the original titles or does it limp along horror lane like Silent Hill: The Room?
This time around, the story follows Alex Shepard, a soldier whos been discharged and returns home to Shepards Glen. Of course, this isn't where the fun begins. You start out in a hospital that would rival anything Eli Roth could think up for the next Hostel film and quickly discover that Alex has big brother issues. Somehow seeing his younger brother Joshua at the hospital doesn't raise as many questions from Alex as it would a normal person, but hey, this is Silent Hill and certain things are forgivable. You move quickly through the hospital and find yourself finally back home. Unfortunately, everything has changed. For starters, the fog level is increased to a point where you will begin to fear the fog again in real life, just like you did with the first game.
After a short time back home, you discover people are missing, there are only a few left in Shepherd's Glen, your mom is crazier than a mental patient in a straitjacket, and your father is mysteriously out searching for something; whether or not this is your brother, you'll just have to wait and see. Alex soon sets out with the promissory I will find him mantra, and the real fun begins.
Much like other Silent Hill games, Homecoming has very basic gameplay, with a few exceptions. The first of those exceptions is the combat. If you played Origins, then youll already be familiar with the fluid and effective battle system in Homecoming. Instead of being a flailing-armed character that obviously never fought anything more than a paper bag, you get a character that appears confident and believable when attacking enemies. Switching it up between light and heavy attacks gives you satisfying combos. Of course, a new element to melee combos proves rewarding for those with a cruel and warped side. Finishing moves, or as I like to call them, brutality of a sick and twisted person moves, are simplistic, cutscene worthy moves that highlight the slightly, to say the least, unbalanced mentality of Alex Shepherd.
While the minor additional features to the combat system are solid, there is a small problem with the actual controls. Not necessarily an ascetic problem, but more a comfort problem. It feels like some of the button placement is a little off. As a result, it takes a little bit longer to become used to the functions of each button. More than once I had my flashlight handed to me because I wasn't completely comfortable with the layout of the controls. When facing off against some of these creatures, it is definitely worth being completely comfortable with the controls, so I suggest taking some extra time to really familiarize yourself before you really get going.
The creatures amp up the difficulty right from the start of the game. Not only are the creatures challenging, they will scare the crap out of you too. They may not make you literally soil yourself (though there is at least one that might), but they will definitely dive into your psyche and play with your fear like a cat would a ball of yarn. The nurses return to the series in all their deformed-faced, twitching-body, gory glory. The creepy thing is the nurses now share the same attributes as the female characters in Dead or Alive when they move. There's are also a few familiar beasties returning with a few modifications. Needler, Schism, and Asphyxia are among some of the new creatures that will surely fill your nights with pleasant dreams. Oh, and yes, Pyramid Head is amongst the things Alex will try to live through. In all their horrible, splendid brilliance, the beasts and environments really do work well to bring out the creepy vibe that Silent Hill has always offered. This is amplified the games excellent graphics.