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Exception to the Rule
Typically when games are remade or 're-imaged,' especially in the horror genre, the results are typically less than thrilling. Recent examples, including the Wii's Capcom title, Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil, are games that best case scenario are carbon-copies of the original or worse yet, make you rather play the original.
For a plethora of reasons, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a very notable exception to this unofficial rule. This re-imagining of the Konami classic that first appeared on the original PlayStation, is simply awesome and is the best horror title currently on the Wii, simply because it does what all Silent Hill games do, create scares and paranoia through isolation. Unlike Resident Evil or Dead Space, this isn't a rail shooter convert, this game is the real deal.
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The game play of Shattered Memories follows the typical Silent Hill formula. The game features a third person perspective which alternates into first person when specific objects need to be examined or accessed in some way. Taking control of Harry Mason who is trying to find his missing daughter after the two are involved in a car accident (just as in the original.)
The game itself alternates between Silent Hill and the office of psychiatrist. In the office, still controlling Mason, you answer the various questions and, according to a pop up message at the game menu, the game will tailor itself based on your psychology. How creepy is that?
The game play works well and the pacing is decent. Camera angles are good, though not spectacular by any means. Instead of a typical menu to access maps or items, Silent Hill creates an added level of realism by using Mason's mobile device as a GPS, phone and even as the game saving mechanism.
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In regards to the controls, Shattered Memories succeeds where other horror conversion or re-issues on the Wii fail. Unlike Resident Evil Archives, this game fully harnesses the benefits of the Wii's innovative motion-sensitive controls. To be fair to Archives, Silent Hill is completely remade and not merely a Gamecube port.
The controls respond well to on screen prompts and gamers should get a feel for the controls fairly quickly. The remote is, for the most part, used as a flashlight, while character movement is controlled by the nunchuk. The control configuration was logically set and is fairly and new gamers should instinctively pick them up.
As with the recently released Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, Shattered Memories takes advantage of the audio output abilities of the Wii remote itself. Silent Hill takes it a step or two further as many creepy calls are placed via the Wii remote throughout the game.
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The graphics in this game are excellent, for Wii Standards, both characters and the environment look good and well-polished. The graphics contribute to sucking the gamer into the experience and makes the scares all the more effective. It would be interesting to see how this game would of looked on one of the other two major consoles. Oftentimes, the graphics are understandably dark and grainy. One can only assume this was an intentional move to add to the dreadful mood of the game.
The eerie sounds, whether the electronic distortion sound effects when enemies nearby to the otherworldly noises the creatures themselves create, create a truly terrifying experience. This effective use of sound is a hallmark of the series and is very apparent early on in the game. The effective use of the audio coming from the Wii remote, as if it were a mobile phone, is fantastic and very unnerving. I have no shame in admitting that when the phone rang, I was quite hesitant to put the remote to my ear.
The sounds and sights of this game mesh extremely well, which is one most important factors in creating a terrifying gaming experience. It's a formula that Capcom's Resident Evil series has mastered. The graphics and sound of Shattered Memories is the primary reasons why it is by far the scariest on the Nintendo Wii.
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Shattered Memories has officially set the bar for future horror titles on the Wii. Konami really knocked this one out of the park. Splendid visuals and sounds coupled with great controls, decent gameplay and a good storyline create a fantastically terrifying experience.
This game has all the hallmarks of the Silent Hill series: disturbing images, creepy environments and a dreadful sense of isolation and an overall feeling of impending doom. The game also incorporates new facets, including the whole psychiatry/therapy aspect. These "sessions" make adequate use of the Wii remote while apparently tailoring the terror experience based on the gamer's responses during the therapy.
Combine these two aspects of gameplay, and not only do you have the scariest title on the hottest console, but arguably one of the most horrifying games in recent memory. Kudos Konami.