|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Climax||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 6, 2007||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
As anyone knows, I love the horror genre. I think it is one of those genres that is both easy to make fun of and at the same time enthrall you into the mix and truly be scared, if done right. When I was younger, I absorbed everything horror: movie, books, and even video games when they began. Then the title Silent Hill came out. When everyone else was clamoring over Resident Evil, I was locked into this title late at night trying to see if there was any way that a video game could scare me in a way that movies had long lost their ability to. Even though the initial title in the series never really brought me to the point of being shocked or scared, I have to say that it did come closer than any other title that was out at that time.
Over the years, it seems that we have begun experiencing a set back in the horror genre of video games. With their predictable scare tactics, weak plotlines, and shallow characters, it seemed that this genre in video games was heading into the same waters as movies. It was even happening in the Silent Hill series. After the release of the fourth installment, The Room, many fans felt there was no coming back. Some, however, hoped there would be something to rejuvenate the series once more on the consoles. Then news came of a PlayStation Portable title, and a lot of them feared this would be the kiss of death for the series. Doing a prequel to the original title and putting it on a handheld caused several questions to arise, but none of those fans who worried had played it yet. So now, after the release of the title, how does it shape up?
As I said before, the events of this title take place before the story begins to unfold in the original title. However, the parallels to this and the original are uncanny. The main protagonist this time around is Travis Grady, a truck driver who just happened to be doing a route that brought him close to Silent Hill. When a mysterious figure appears in the middle of the road, Travis nearly wrecks his rig trying to avoid it. Successful in his attempts to not kill himself, destroy his rig or hit the figure, he gets out to check on the individual, and finds nothing. With a little more investigation, Travis sees what could be the same figure at the brink of what appears to be fog. Chasing after this figure, he soon discovers the fog is not really fog but smoke from a burning building. Screams erupt and Travis does what anyone should do and rushes in to rescue the screamer. Of course, after exiting the building with his rescue, he collapses, the common disadvantage in Silent Hill. After he awakens from an undetermined amount of darkness, the game really begins.
Travis heads out to Alchemilla Hospital to be checked out and to try to find out more about the little girl he rescued from the fires. The hospital, much like the town, is mostly deserted. The peoplewho Travis does find are abysmally vacant in nearly every way. This should come as no surprise to those who have played the series, especially considering the names of the people you run into. First up is Dr. Kaufman, the local doctor who we all know and "love" from the first title. Of course, what would a doctor be without his nurse, and Lisa Garland fills in those stark white shoes. In fact, Lisa informs Travis that the little girl he saved, Alessa Gillespie, didn't make it. Other characters that Travis will run into will have fans giddy with anticipation of who's next. One of the greatest tragic characters in Silent Hill is Dahlia, and what would an origin story be with out her?
The great thing about this story is that it interweaves the original title so well that you don't mind discovering the links and ties Travis has to the town. With the shocks and turns in the story, it will keep you on edge racing to the end. None of the Silent Hills were ever that long, but this one seemed to be over before it could have really begun. Given that this title is on a handheld it did need to be shorter, but it was also a little too long for the fast sit down, a play mechanic some have come to expect from handhelds.