Silent Hill 2 was the first SH series I played for the Sony PlayStation 2. And to be honest, I didn’t like it, back then I was childish and I stopped playing after an hour or so just because of the crappy graphics. Childish huh? I thought so too.
When Silent Hill 3 came out, again for the PS2, my impression of the series went a complete 360. Partly because I grew up a bit more and partly because both the game play as well as the graphics were improved. I actually beat the game three times just to unlock costumes and the mighty light saber! Then came Silent Hill 4: The Room in 2004 and it was another hit. I can’t really say the graphics were improved much over SH3 but the game play was certainly different because you were basically stuck in your own “room” and the alternate world.
Finally, Silent Hill: Homecoming or somtimes I call it Silent Hill 5, is the first Silent Hill game to be released for the next-gen consoles. Is Silent Hill:Homecoming really a homecoming? Or is it a shortcoming?
Story and controls
You will be fighting through this hellish Silent Hill with by controlling a solider who is searching for his brother. At least this time your character has been trained to fight! One great feature added is the option to dodge and then perform a counter attack as well as “trading” your health for stronger attacks. Combo and charged attacks stay as is as from Silent Hill: Origin for the Sony PlayStation Portable. Again the radio and your ever-lasting flash light will help you fight your way through. Your radio will emit static noises when threats are close by and your flash light, well light your way obviously! And just like the previous series, you are always fighting between the real world and the alternate, more horrified world. The controls are somewhat different from the previous series which takes sometime to get used to, one obvious difference is the way to access your weapons/items menus. I accidentally wasted a healing item when I was meant to go into attack mode. The combat controls are aslo slightly different if I remember correctly, sorry its been a while since I played SH4. Overall nothing anyone cannot handle.
You start out in one of the common places in the SH series – the Hospital. I was really excited because I got to “reunite” with the sexy but deadly nurses! You get to fight your very first one as soon as you pick up your combat knife. There are now two buttons for two modes of attacks which you can chain/combo. One mode is the normal attack and the other is the heavy attack which can be charged to perform even heavier blows. I also think the character’s movement could have been a bit more agile, it feels a bit slow when navigating around.
Game play and graphics
You will continue to fight creatures that look horrible and terririfying most of the times just like previous series. But the good old nurses are sexier than ever! To be honest, the graphics is worse than what I was expecting, I was trying to compare with Metal Gear Solid 4. Maybe that’s not comparing apple to apple but the graphics don’t convince me of next-gen graphics. But the water actually looks pretty good though, and I’m only talking about when standing still because there are no splashes or ripples when walking/running through. There are many scenes that are just too bloody and gory for me to show them on my blog because I know not everyone can tolerate this kind of horror. I apologize for not being able to take pictures of when fighting enemies because they are just so quick and often fighting in tight spaces. And I did get a few scare here and there from my 2 hour play. The best one was when I was back home, one of the doors suddenly closed on its own which was totally unexpected when the environment was so peaceful. Ok no more spoilers!
There is little to no loading time unless you move from a completely different area or building which is great. I think this game is too dark, maybe its my TV, but I had to adjust the brightness to the max before I could see better. I know this game is meant to be in the dark but it was just too dark I could barely enjoy it before the adjustment. For those who wonder, this game runs only at 720p max.
So far I’ve also found something new which is health boosting item which permanently boosts your health. And once in a while you need to perform some button mashing be it cutting your way through or being attacked by bugs. The bugs are actually annoying I almost got half my health drained because it was so dark (before the brightness adjustment) and I couldn’t see the bug but my health was slowly going down non stop. Aside from the not too impressed graphics, two other thing I dislike, first is the fact that doors that you open will close themselves after a while, why is that? Second, bodies of dead enemeies disappear after a while as well. I like to use them as indicators that I’ve visited the rooms. (yes I’m really bad with directions even with maps)
Sound and music have always been one of the key elements to Silent Hill’s scariness. SH:Homecoming is no different. Within 15 minutes of playing the game, you will hear baby crying somewhere near you, but you will never know where. Though the background sound can be quite a headache in the alternate (nasty) world for some people its not a show stopper, eventually you will get used to it. There are also many music that are actually pleasant to the ears sort of give you a break from all the horror and a peace of mind, at least for a short period of time.
I highly recommend this game for those that have been following the series. And for MAXIMUM satisfaction, play this game in COMPLETE darkness and ALONE! If you can crank up the volumn, that makes the game even scarier to experience! I think that’s the way survival horror games should be played. This game will most likely not for you if you are not into horror movies/games and get scared very easily (might get heart attacks at times). Although graphics don’t determine if the game is worth playing or not, I still expected them to be next-gen quality which they are not, I mean if Metal Gear Solid 4 could do it, why not Silent Hill? So don’t expect any stunning graphics. And last but not least, I do wish KONAMI can implement online co-op mode to the next series as it would be a great addition/feature to have, assuming there is a next series. Finally, I hope this review helps some of you in deciding if Silent Hill: Homecoming is worth buying or not.