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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories PS2 Review
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is both a Wii and PS2 release, coming out across January and March of this year, sporting a twisted reworking of the original entry in the Silent Hill series on the first Playstation console. With some interesting mechanics, pertaining to the lack of combat and constant disempowerment, the game has tried to revitalise the flagging franchise.
This Silent Hill: Shattered Memories PS2 review will focus on the non-motion controlled version and give some insight into whether the game is worthy of a quick purchase or even quicker rent.
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Setting of Shattered Memories
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories follows Harry Mason as he tries to uncover the mystery of his daughter Cheryl’s disappearance after a snowstorm influenced car crash. Taking inspiration and direct narrative cues from the original Silent Hill, Shattered Memories weaves a layered schematic of stories and plot threads in a way many games do not.
Due to the layered nature of the experience; a lot of elements within the narrative can be changed or even completely removed in a second playthrough. This kind of texturised storytelling is purposeful and accomplished, allowing for some dynamic experiences, with replayability increasing by proxy.
After a disturbing home-video footage sequence, we are thrust into the game’s clinical framing technique, the psychologists office. Recounting the events of the game through these short scenes is a great way to both predetermine the action and get an obvious feel for the impacting choice mechanic the game will often flaunt.
For example, given a set of crayons and a cumbersome image of an aforementioned house (in this case what Harry believes to be his own), the player is given licence to color in the picture. When confronted with this house in the retelling, players will notice the obvious color scheme as being similar to what they themselves purposefully colored in the psychiatric test.
Utilising the Silent Hill motif, a snowy and quiet mountain resort, Harry Mason will find himself roaming fogged streets for much of the games 7-10 hour storyline. Only when the icy hell of the games distinct nightmare sequences pervades his reality will there be a change of pace and tension. Harry being able to freely roam the town and interact with its unwilling inhabitants until the faceless monsters begin to appear at set points throughout.
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Gameplay In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
On PS2, the game’s mechanics mostly mimic their Wii counterparts rotund interpretation, with the right analog stick replacing the Wii’s motion controlled twists and waggles. The X button functions as the use/action switch, with the rest of the controls feeling similar to both other Silent Hill predecessors and even survival horror games such as Resident Evil 4.
While previous incarnations of Silent Hill have used protracted shooting elements in order to defeat enemies, Shattered Memories takes a divisive departure from this, by forcing players to run instead of confront the hellish nurses etcetera that the player encounters.
Taking such a departure from shooting or any kind of offence seems rather suitable for the genre of “survival" horror. The idea of disempowerment isn’t new, however Shattered Memories does a great job of enforcing this idiom, with no weapon pickups or nefarious cover systems to tarnish the action.
Conclusively knowing that shooting or overcoming enemies through combat won’t be an option gives a contextual significance to the nightmare sequences. Also, the complete overhaul the game undergoes whenever the nightmare sequences begin provides enough context to negate the absurdly inconsistent pacing.
Sometimes the experience is quite jarring and slightly too deliberate however. For instance while navigating the supposed real world, players will be thrown into a nightmare sequence with only a minimal hint, destroying the eerie atmosphere and creating some labored tension. In addition to this; the deliberate use of graphical and environmental changes furthers the divide between the chase sequences or exploration parts of the game.
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Aesthetics of Harry Mason and Other Characters
As mentioned throughout this Silent Hill: Shattered Memories PS2 review, the sleepy town of Silent Hill and its off-putting atmosphere serve as the main base of operations for Harry Mason, navigating the vast and mostly empty town. Although the PS2 takes a distinct graphical hit in comparison to its Wii counterpart, the difference isn’t enough to curtail the experience, especially given Silent Hill’s uncanny penchant for immersion. If graphics are a high priority, then the Wii version of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the one to go for, with a surprising amount of added detail and 480p support, although thats hardly an accomplishment these days...
During this exploration of the town, Harry Mason will find himself basking in the ambience of the world around him, often not hearing any noise other than his hardened footsteps walking through the snow. This lack of background music and chilling use of sound effects is a trope of other Silent Hill games and this incarnation certainly doesn’t disappoint.
An added touch comes from the caustic screams of your would be attackers during the nightmare chases, with some Wii controller microphone usage being scrapped in the PS2 version, which often get multiplied to terrifying levels as the enemies begin to gang up on your evasive body.
The distinct division between the two arenas of gameplay, the normal exploration mode and the nightmare sequences, serves its purpose. The player will instantly know when a nightmare sequence is beginning as the world will be swallowed up in ice and doors etcetera will turn bright blue. These obvious cues may detract from the tension of the chase sequences, while the trial and error gameplay leaves a lot to be desired also, but at least the player is aware of their need to run.
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Overall Rating of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories PS2
In this Silent Hill: Shattered Memories PS2 review we’ve tried to convey the integral elements of the game into three distinct categories. All three areas are well accomplished (even on PS2, the substandard version of the two available) and the game doesn’t suffer because of one specific thing.
The graphics can be negotiated, the gameplay is solid if unspectacular and the setting is a rehash of a game from 1999. Cumulatively speaking, Shattered Memories provides a salient retelling of a rather remarkable original, even surpassing the scope and deliberate combat of the first game.
Although it would be hard to fully endorse the PS2 version, especially if you own a Wii, its still good enough to purchase or to make a definite rent. With PS2‘s collectively collecting a deluge of dust in most peoples homes, it would seem befitting to send it out by playing a remake of one of the best games from Sony’s entire library of games.