Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories- Review

So if you have been keeping up with the Silent Hill franchise, then you know that the series has been in a steady decline since the 4th installment. The games have just kept deviating from the original formula of completely breaking the way you process logical thoughts to scare the shit out of you- and then some. This game is no different, but this time, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Shattered Memories is a reinvention of the beloved survival-horror series that drops the combat and confusing sense of navigation (which the series is famous, maybe even infamous for) in favor of a more linear, atmospheric and somewhat, puzzle-like approach. In the game, you take control of Harry Mason who is searching for his daughter Cheryl in the eerie town of Silent Hill after a nasty car crash with nothing but a flashlight with an amazing battery life to guide his way. The premise is the same as the first game but the difference is how the story plays out. You go through the same locations as you had done previously but your interactions with the characters and the world is much more immersive. As you walk around darkly-lit buildings and dilapidated streets you can observe your surrounding and Harry will take notice and make observations of what you've seen. There is incredible detail in all of the items from fake phone numbers on posters and ads to subtle touches that tell you about the people that seemingly abandoned their home. You can even interact with small trinkets and finding small touches of foreshadowing that lead to the games finale. Your flashlight really helps the textures look much more vivid with impressive lighting effects and precise handling. Everything really stands out and that affects how real the fear will be for the player. Everywhere you go is incredibly believable and you would probably have the constant worry of being attacked or having something scary pop out at you had it not been for one problem that really destroyed the horror aspect of this game.

Like in previous installments, this game features what is often called an "alternate" or "nightmare" version of Silent Hill. But instead of having everything rust up and become archaic -looking, the world ices over and then you have to find your way out which will lead you to the next location and the story progresses. The catch is that as you try to escape, the monsters of Silent Hill will begin to chase you around and kill you, so as you run around you notice the paths are highlighted blue so that you can tell what walls are climbable, what doors can open and so and all the while you can hear the demonic shrieks of the monsters getting closer. This proves to be pretty tense at times, and in some chases you are required to stop and run around to solve a puzzle while avoiding death. This is only scarier as you have to be focused on finding the answer but not getting distracted enough to be mauled by demons. What sucks about these chase scenes is that it completely gives way when you should be in fear of being scared by monsters and when you are totally safe from harms way. So whenever you are in the "normal" Silent Hill you can just walk about in ease as it never gets scarier than a flash of white and a loud bang whenever you use Harry's phone to chase static and receive some background info through messages. It isn't very heavy on the puzzles either, where the most common points where you have to think are maybe going around a side of the house and opening a wallet or drawer to find a a key.

Harry's phone is another example of a cool idea that didn't pan out completely. By the end of the game your phone is full with text and audio messages that offer some sort of history on the darker parts of the town and its inhabitants. The phone is also equipped with a camera that is used to take photos of ghosts or "memories" which results in more messages. Like I mentioned previously, there are fake numbers to call scattered all over the town. So for those that like to explore every inch of games they will be entertained by the voices of a once lively town. The phone also features a map, but it proved to be almost completely useless. To begin with, the game is incredibly linear. You don't really ever got lost as the path is always right in front of you but if during a chase scene if you feel the need to get an idea of the area you're in, it would just confound you further. The map is not clear and makes all the room look strangely bunched up. Again, this isn't a big problem as you probably won't ever have to use it.

Now, possibly the most noteworthy feature in this game is the psychological profiling. The game starts off and is often interrupted by your psychiatrist who proceeds to ask you questions and put you through mental tests about life, sex, school, death, etc. The way you answer the questions affects the outcome of the areas you explore, most of the time it is really subtle but there are moments where the game really takes a different turn based on your personality. This makes the game fun for a few more rounds once you're done if you choose to answer the questions differently.

Although, it wasn't perfect, I was thoroughly entertained by Shattered Memories. I was strung along by its eerie presentation and a surprisingly captivating story. There are a lot of awesome cinematic and interactive moments in the game. Including one really great scene where you're riding shotgun with a familiar character that I won't spoil for you. Though, it did have its fair share of disappointments like a lack of fear, basic puzzle elements and a short length, this is a decent game with a fresh start for a series that needs some new perspective and I completely welcome that with open arms. Fans of the series should really check this one out.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

o hai!

So this is gonna be one of those generic "sorry I haven't been posting a while" posts. I apologize in advance.

Sorry I haven't been posting in a while. I've had a lot of stuff I've wanted to write about but lately I've just felt really busy and lazy. Winter break is about to roll around and I take opportunities like this to stay up ridiculously late. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but being alone in the dark and listening to music at 6 in the morning gets me in the mood to think introspectively and it gives me a lot to write about. It could just be the sleep deprivation, though.

See you on the 18th!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Square-Enix Gets Punctual

Everybody knows that Square-Enix only takes forever and a day to release new installments in their most popular franchises, (i.e. Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts) and are even more infamous for taking even longer to release their games overseas, usually spanning to around 4 months. But the Big Boss over at SE, Yoichi Wada, recently made a statement in which he promised that SE will release future games more swiftly to Western territories. This news, of course, I immediately correlated to Kingdom Hearts. The newest game in the series "Birth by Sleep", which is being released one the PSP, is due in Japan in early January; thus leaving me to dread over wen I'll get my own copy. I would think maybe May or even June but with this news if were lucky we could be looking at a March or even February release if the gods of gaming are fondly looking down on us!

So here's to wishful thinking.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Facebook Coming to the PS3!

Now, I know pretty much every device known to man has some form of Twitter or Facebook connectivity; like just a bit ago the 360 got a Facebook page for crazy social shenanigans. The PS3 will be receiving Facebook integration in the next system update, which is said to arrive soon. Unfortunately, unlike the 360 version, it won't have limited features from the site to actually communicate with your friends but will only have settings to connect certain aspects of your PSN account with your FB account. So now you can let your friends know that you just got the Platinum trophy for BioShock and find out how much time your anti-social gamer friends put into their system. It will be an enlightening experience.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sweet, Sweet Justice

After several months of tedious death and worrying about precise execution, I have finally gotten all the Trophies on BioShock and thus have also received the Platinum Trophy. I now never have to look at that game ever again during any point in my life, and it feels good. Now, don't get me wrong. I friggin' love BioShock, but after a while games like that, with dark atmospheres and such, begin to get to you and you just wanna lock it up in a prison cell so it can't hurt you anymore. Now, I am done forever, which was quite a feat. Technically, I haven't really squeezed out all the juices the game has to offer. There are still some downloadable challenge rooms for 10 bucks that don't count towards the story or the platinum trophy. Honestly, I don't even think I have it in me after what I just went through.

Now I'm gonna go platinum R&C: A Crack In Time, which has proven itself to be a lot less bearing than BioShock.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Instant Streaming In Style

The instant streaming disc for Netflix on the PS3 finally came in. Now I can finish watching that season of Heroes from the comfort of my bed, which I was able to do before but now it's bigger! Unfortunately, for the time being, I have to put the disc in the PS3 every time I want to watch something. It isn't really a hassle, but little things like that just bug me. Soon enough I can just hop onto the PS Store and go to the Netflix section. Then I will be complete.

Monday, October 26, 2009

So I saw this movie...

...and I friggin loved it! It's an independent film that unfortunately did not have the funding to get released on the big screen. It's called The Assassination of A High School President, it's basically a comedy/ film noir set in high school, and to me this sounds like a cheesy film set for failure, but holy shit did this film exceed my expectations.

Before you take my opinion on this film to heart maybe I should warn you that I have a thing for independent films and for movies where the underdog becomes a hero. This film has both. So my opinion might be a bit biased. Anyways, plot synopsis: You've got this sophomore named Bobby Funke, and he writes for the paper. Then, one day, the SAT tests get stolen and Bobby takes it upon himself to bring justice to his school. So then, he gets into this whole mess of trouble and stumbles upon a conspiracy that would normally be way over a high-school sophomores head. But that's just one of the finer things of this film. All the characters and locations are within the parameters of a high-school lifestyle but everything has the effect of a small community, similar to that of the crime-life in "da streetz".

So there is wit coming out of every orifice in this movie. I found it to be a mature and cleverly-written film that deserved more attention than it received. And while the story is complex and crazy, the characters are still easily related to, giving this film a touch of teenage personality.

Watch. This. Movie.

Humble Beginnings

Well, as of this very moment, there is absolutely no-one reading this blog. I'm gonna start posting shameless plugs over every form of internet communication I've aver associated myself with. Hopefully, things will spread. My name is Mario Guzman, and I do almost nothing with my life.

Also, I like using commas.