JFo Posted September 14, 2004 Report Share Posted September 14, 2004 Last night I beat Silent Hill 4: The Room. Not only that, but I've managed to see three of the game's four endings thanks to the clever use of well-placed save points. The short at sweet version of this post is that I liked it. I liked it a whole lot, in fact. I will admit that many of the changes Konami decided to implement in this game concerned me a great deal, particularly the abandonment of the flashlight as a device for delivering light and creating mood. I'm happy to report that most the changes work quite nicely and the game is still scary like its predecessors. There's a lot to be said about The Room and it's somewhat difficult to know where to begin. I can almost understand now why Romier hasn't posted his review yet (note I said almost ) I think the most important thing to talk about is the changes and how well they work since I suspect the only other people reading this are Silent Hill fans like myself. As those of you who have been following the game's development realize, Silent Hill 4 breaks from the others in the series in a number of significant ways. As I mentioned before, the flashlight is gone, as is the radio. Environments are better lit, but despite what the screenshots might suggest, they aren't overly lit, as I had once feared. An eerie mood still permeates everywhere you look. Oddly enough, the sense of claustrophobia that you once felt because you could only see a few feet in front of your face remains. The difference here is in the size and scope of the environments. Whereas the first three games place your character in a fairly large sandbox, allowing you to run away from your enemies if you so desire, you don't have that luxury in Silent Hill 4. Spaces are smaller and more closed off. When an enemy or a group of enemies stands in your way, evading them may not be the best answer. This leads me to the next major change, which is the combat system. While not as refined as something like Eternal Darkness (which I happen to think has the best fighting system I've seen in a horror game), it is much better than any of the previous games. Henry is a much more agile character than any other in the series thus far and the controls in this game work quite well. Not only can he dodge attacks with a quick jump to the side, he can also power up melee blows by holding down the attack button. It's still not quite as evolved as I would like to see in these games, but it certainly moves in the right direction. The only real fault I find with it lies in the hit detection, which can sometimes feel a bit wonky, leading to some frustrating moments in battle. It's a good thing that the combat is decent, because the game also breaks tradition from the others through of its lack of any major puzzles. The team behind the game stated that they wanted to make a game that was much more action-oriented. If that were the case I would say that they succeeded admirably. That's not a criticism by the way. In fact, I was somewhat surprised by how much I didn't miss them. The minor puzzle solving you do undertake usually involves finding an item and using it in the correct spot. Thankfully, the majority of the solutions rely on real life logic to figure them out. As with any survival horror game, pay close attention to the clues you?re given and examine everything in the environment. Do that and you should be able to make your way through the game with relatively few problems. The last major change concerns the lack of an inventory screen. Rather than allow Henry to carry an unlimited assortment of items, the game limits what he can carry to ten items at a time. Objects he?s not using must be stored in a chest ala Resident Evil. This chest is located in Henry?s apartment, forcing him to return there often to unload items and pick them up. While I understand the desire to add a level of strategy to the game by forcing players to pick and choose what they want to bring with them, the process of constantly returning to The Room to unload excess items can get very tedious, as you can imagine. Not only that, but ammunition for your guns cannot be stacked. For instance, every ten rounds of pistol ammo counts as one whole space in your inventory. So, twenty rounds takes up two spots instead of having all twenty consolidated into just one. To me, this change is perhaps the most questionable. The inventory system they had before worked fine; why mess with it? If I had one major criticism of Silent Hill 4, this would be it. On the technical front, Silent Hill 4 does just about everything right. The character models are exquisitely detailed and have been brought to life with some impressive animation. The environments themselves are as every bit as grimy, dirty, and uncomfortable as you would expect from a Silent Hill title. My only gripe with the visuals is that the lighting effects come across as flat and dull when compared to the previous games. Light was once a living part of the environment; now it?s just there and nothing more. As far as the audio is concerned, all I can say is that those of you with an Xbox hooked up to a good Dolby Digital system are in for a real treat. If you can, turn up the volume and enjoy the creepy ambient noises, excellent music tracks, and superb voice acting. While most of the activity takes place in the front soundstage (since that?s where most of the action takes place) you will notice some well-placed noises in the rears where appropriate. Additionally, those of you with good subwoofers will like Silent Hill 4 quite a bit, especially in this one area on the Subway level. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation for The Room itself. I personally believe that this is the most impressive aspect of the entire title. It serves not only as the game?s hub but works as a device for telling the story. The windows, the peephole in the front door, and Henry?s view into Eileen?s room give it the sense that it exists in a real place with real people just outside the door. By the time you finish the game, which should take about 12 hours if you?re anything like me, you will know Henry, his neighbors and what?s going on around them with intimate detail. Kudos to Konami for building such a wholly complete world to explore and play around in! Ultimately, I think what surprises me most about Silent Hill 4: The Room is the lukewarm reaction it has received from both fans of the series and the gaming press. At this point, I don?t think it will end up in my top 10 of 2004, but it is still a very good game and very scary. I almost wonder if the response would have been more favorable if this had been released as something other than a Silent Hill title as it was originally intended. I just wonder if the baggage that goes with being the fourth installment of the Silent Hill series ? and one that?s so different to the others ? doomed it to disappoint fans. Oh well, at least I enjoyed it. Now, I know Romier?s dying to talk about the story, so I will get the ball rolling. One of the most striking aspects of the game for me is that it really isn't about Henry Townshend, as I had expected. It's about Walter Sullivan and his actions. Henry is simply a victim caught up in the aftermath of Walter?s plan to awaken his mother. He doesn't say much and aside from what he does within the levels themselves, he doesn't do a whole lot to propel the story forward. At first I was sort of disappointed by this, but then I realized how brilliantly it tied in with the voyeurism theme. Henry is simply an observer to the events at hand; he is the vehicle through which the player experiences this story. Yes, he does have a role to play, but it?s a limited one and doesn?t really reveal itself until the very end of the game. Obviously, the prevalent theme (aside from voyeurism) is the relationship between mothers and sons. The metaphor of The Room as a womb and the boy?s desire to go back into it could launch us into a discussion wide-ranging enough to add several pages worth of posts in this thread. Alas, I will leave off here, since this post is already quite long and I want to go to bed at a reasonable hour. With that, does anyone have anything they?d like to add? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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