Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.: Silent Hill 4: The Room

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Silent Hill 4: The Room

I signed up for a Movie Gallery membership, so here comes something that will probably become a semi-regular feature, video game, and occasionally, movie, reviews. The movies will mostly be older movies that most people will probably have already seen, or at least heard about though. Still, for some it may be useful, and for most it will probably be a welcome change from the constant news story links.

Ok, so first video game review:
Silent Hill 4: The Room
Release Date: 9/7/2004
Genre: Survival/Horror
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
For PS2 and XBox, version reviewed is the XBox version.

(Out of 5 possible)
Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Story: 5
Play Control: 2
Overall: 4.25

Silent Hill 4 is the latest game in the Silent Hill series. Now, let me say that this is not a game I would normally want to play, and in fact, the only reason I even rented it is because all the games I wanted were checked out. But Chris loves the Silent Hill series, and had been eagerly awaiting this new installment, so I decided to check it out.

The Silent Hill series is widely considered to be the scariest games ever made, and I see why. Most things like this don't scare me, I think horror movies are funny, but this game scared the shit out of me even before I started playing it. When you first pop the game in there's this really cool video of scenes from the game set to freaky music and sound effects, including an incredibly cool creepy lullaby. The whole video kinda reminded me of the video tape from the movie The Ring, in a way. But in this demo, it keeps showing the main character getting attacked by these creepy enemies that walk on their arms, since they have no legs, and they have two baby-doll heads. And they make scary baby-doll noises. This scared the shit out of me, as I find dolls to be really creepy anyway. This game scared me so much, I could barely go to bed that night, especially since the game is about an apartment, and I live in an apartment.

In this game, you play Harry Townshend, who finds himself trapped in his apartment. Five days ago, he started having these weird nightmares, or at least he thinks they're nightmares, and at the same time, he found that he was trapped. None of his windows will open, and the door has been covered with bolts and chains and locks. From the inside. What's even weirder is that it seems no one can hear you when you scream or bang on the walls. You can see people out the peephole on the door, but they can't hear you. Also, the power to the TV and VCR has stopped working, though everything else has power. Also your phone doesn't work, in fact, the cord has been cut, but that doesn't stop you from getting creepy phone calls on it, and occasionally dialing out, only to hear scary noises when the other end picks up. Your trapped in your apartment, but suddenly, holes and portals start appearing in the walls, that take you to alternate versions of other places, populated by ghosts, zombies, and even freakier creatures. Places such as the subway line that runs by your apartment, where you meet some woman that is trapped in the strange, alternate dimension subway.

The graphics and sound quality on this game are incredible, most of the time it looks like real video, and the sounds are very scary. Unfortunately, the game has one major drawback: the play control. In fact, I'm not the best person to review this game, as I only got about an hour into it. I kept trying to play it more, but I just couldn't, the play control was so awful it drove me nuts. The main problem is the camera when in third person mode. Parts of the game, such as when you are in your apartment, are in first person, and the game is great then, but the action parts are in third person, and that's where it all falls apart. The camera does not move when you turn, and you keep having to press the button to bring the camera back around behind you. That wouldn't be too bad, but many of the rooms and corridors you are in are too small for the camera to get around behind you, so you end up looking at yourself from an overhead frontal view, or worse. Often times there would be enemies all around me, but I couldn't even see them to fight them.

Also, this is just not the kind of game I like to play. I'm afraid to do anything, because I know a zombie or something will jump out around every corner. Though actually, most of the time they don't. I was about an hour into the game before there even starts to really be any enemies, but as soon as there is, the game becomes unplayable, because of the camera, and the fact that most of the enemies are too hard, and won't die. They just keep getting back up. Which may be my fault actually, I may not know how to kill them, because Movie Gallery does not give you the instruction booklet when you rent the game. It took me almost an hour before I found out I could run.

From what I saw of the game, and what I've read in other reviews, Silent Hill 4 has a fantastic story. That was the main thing that got me to keep trying to play the game, I wanted to find out what would happen next. So, in spite of it all, I recommend this game, but I hope you have better luck with the controls than I did.