September 11, 2004

Silent Hill 4 First Impressions

I picked up "Silent Hill 4: The Room" on Wednesday evening for the Xbox and started playing it last night. (Minor spoilers ahead.)

I'm about an hour and a half into the game and I'm in the Forest World, and so far it seems like there just wasn't the same attention to detail that there was in previous games.

Little things like polygons Z-fighting in your apartment (look at the top of the trash can in the kitchen while you move, or in the upper-left corner of the peephole panel you use to look in on Eileen) tend to draw you out of the immersion that was so integral to the previous games in the series.

The jerky camera movement when you hit the left trigger is an improvement over the camera shift behavior in previous Silent Hill titles, but belies the true intentions of the title. This isn't meant to be a cerebral romp through the park ala Silent Hill 2, or a deep trip into the history of the series ala Silent Hill 3. This is meant to be more of a "Fight-Or-Flight" game.

The voice acting so far is a mixed bag. Eileen sounds good, and the radio announcers sound properly monotone, but your character doesn't sound worried enough. In the previous Silent Hill games, your characters started out in semi-normal situations, and their voices wigged out more and more as the game went on. In this Silent Hill, your character has been in a trippy situation for the last five days, but doesn't sound too worried about it. Even when he finds Cynthia at the end of the Subway world, all you get is a little warble in his voice...which is soon gone. The stuttering dude in the Forest world sounds a little forced, but I can live with it.

The character models are more varied than in previous Silent Hill titles, and are a marked improvement over Silent Hill 3's monsters and NPC's. However, the characters themselves seem...well, like 70's/80's throwbacks.

I guess I'll see how the rest of the game is.

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