N Amer - 11/13/2007
E3 2007 Preview
About 14 months ago, Konami announced a new Silent Hill for the PSP – a game titled Origins. Set in a world before the events of the first Silent Hill, Origins looked amazing…in trailer form. Had I known it’d be over a year before I finally got to play the game, my sanity would have been thrown out the window. That was based solely on the assumption that this game would be able to deliver the same, PS2-caliber Silent Hill experience of the previous console generation.
The good news: it plays equally as well as the other Silent Hill games. Better news: the music is top-notch horror with dozens of creepy and familiar sounds to get your heart racing. Best news: the graphics are unlike anything you have ever seen from a handheld release.
The demo – which was unusually long and thorough and was worth every second spent playing it – began with the grainy visual mask that drenches the screen of each Silent Hill. The world was grimy, even for an insane asylum (which you’d probably expect to be a bit on the eerie side. And it was).
I walked around, read a few bits of information, and wondered when the first terror-ific moment would occur. I also wondered when I’d get to see the flashlight in action, as this area of the game was rather well lit. Dirty and purposely grainy (and tremendously detailed), but still lit.
For those of you who want to be completely surprised by everything the game has to offer, stop now. It’s not a spoiler, but you will have a much more exciting time experiencing it on your own.
Still with us? Alright, then let me take you to the first mirror. What was once little more than a cool graphic effect used to instill a sense of eeriness is now an interactive gameplay element. By looking into any mirror in the game, players can jump back and forth between the normal world and the messed up place where demons live and hunt. The introduction to this feature was somewhat scary, though it was hard to jump – or get startled – when playing a survival/horror game in a bright room with open windows and tons of people standing nearby. Regardless, I was intrigued, and hoping to get spooked.
As you attempt to leave the room with the first mirror, a little girl can be seen inside the mirror. She walks up to it and pushes her hand up against it, leaving behind a handprint of blood that drips down the mirror. Suddenly the room goes a little crazy, flashing and shaking lightly. When the effects end, you’re no longer in the same insane asylum. You are now in a place that truly is crazy.
The combat is excellent and only partially expected. You’ll use sledgehammers to attack monsters as always, but there are also a few new additions. For starters, if a monster attacks before you can strike, the X button will flash on the bottom screen, indicating that it needs to be pressed to break free. If Resident Evil 4 comes to mind, you’re on the right track – this mini-game is essentially the same kind of thing.
Silent Hill Origins also makes better use of general items and creates more weapon opportunities. For example, if you pick up a large empty bottle, it can be thrown as a single-use weapon. It’ll break on impact, as will the sledgehammers if you use them enough. It seems that Konami plans to use this feature as a way of keeping players from standing still and feeling safe. You’ll always be on the run, always be in search of a new weapon, and can never be too certain when a new enemy will pop out.
Due in the fourth quarter, Silent Hill Origins is easily one of the most impressive games being shown at this year’s E3.
Potentially the most groundbreaking and breathtaking PSP release.
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 07/13/2007