Thursday, June 04, 2009

Silent Hill On the Wii?

Nintendo announced recently that a new Silent Hill game will premiere on the Wii. There have been many responses to this on the internet already. There are many for it and many just right off dead against it.

Briefly, Silent Hill is a survivor horror game. It basically involves a protagonist getting dumped into a mysterious town, deserted and enshrouded with fog, and he needs to find his way to some goal, whether it be locate a missing family member, or simply to make sense of what he/she's stepped into and escape. Throughout the game a complex storyline develops, revealing the history of the town and how it relates to their lives. As you progress through the game, you enter various areas of a horrific nightmare, a parallel universe of the town that may closest be described as hell. There are many twisted creations that wander both realms. All are deadly.

The announcement of a Silent Hill coming to the Wii is very exciting. So why are there people upset?

Well, for one, the nightmarish world that for several games has been depicted as an iron and steel industrial hell painted in blood has become an "ice" world. This is a refreshing change, in my opinion, and I anticipate seeing how they make it work. For some it's an immediate turnoff. I understand why -- the steel and blood industrial hell of the previous games is what defines Silent Hill. Regardless, I think this new Ice world deserves a chance. Let's see what they do with it before we lambaste Team Silent into annihilation.

The second change to the Silent Hill universe, as ranted by many loyal base members, is the decreased role weapons will play in the game.

I think they are mistaken. Many people play Silent Hill on easy and/or normal difficulty levels. In these levels, weapons and ammunition are prevalent, and it is quite easy to progress through the game effortlessly blowing all of your enemies to smithereens.

However, if you play any Silent Hill game, all the way back to the original in 1999, on a hard difficulty, you will see that weapons are almost useless. On those levels, ammunition is very rare and monsters take too many hits to take down. It's best you run like the wind when you see them and save your ammo for the boss battles.

This is made even more difficult in Silent Hill for the Wii by having the AI improved so that the creatures use strategy in taking you down, and will pursue you as far as they can. They will flank you, trap you, feint, and mob you.

I think this is the true mission of Silent Hill: horror in which the protagonist is a normal person, weak, untrained, afraid, and simply trying to survive. This is what Silent Hill was meant to be. Running away is intended. Turning the game into a shooter was not.

Harry Mason of Silent Hill was not a warrior. James Sunderland of Silent Hill 2 was a little bit stronger. In Silent Hill 3 Heather Mason, the series' first female protagonist, had become stronger. When she gets her hands on the katana, watch out! I'd have to say that Henry Townshend in Silent Hill 4 was about the same as Heather. Travis, in Silent Hill Origins (zero), took a great leap into the toughguy protagonist role. He goes through the game carring a plethora of weapons, including items such as TVs, desk lamps, and furniture, in which to bash creatures over the head. He's also pretty darn good with his fists. Silent Hill Homecoming is even worse. Alex Shephard, the protagonist, is a trained soldier.

You can see how the game has degraded into a ramboesque survival shooter. This, I think, has been the detrimental change to Silent Hill.

There was another game that came out in those days that has also become a staple to survival horror fans. It's called Resident Evil. Let's leave all the gunfighting to Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and Jill Valentine. However, one can also argue that Resident Evil, when played on Hard levels, gives little ammunition, forcing you to flee past creatures instead of fighting them.

My protagonist in Silent Hill will be played on hard difficulty, and he/she's going to be running away from everything. That is how I play, at night, in the dark, with the sound volume up. And yes, I pee my pants.

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