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 Silent Hill 5: Homecoming

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Strazdas
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PostSubject: Silent Hill 5: Homecoming   Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:04 am



The final instalment to the long series of silent hill games. Looks like the tech department is still living in the 2002 though. There are two graphic options: quality and resolution. that's it. quality has two settings normal and high. if you set the game high the game crashes on starting new game or save. so we actually have one setting. And this isnt my problem, because even IGN noticed it. The resolution has more settings and they appear to work (woot one working setting!) but i kept it low and i will explain why further into review. There are also the usual subtitles and the brightness settings, but you just really want it all up.

You start as Alex Shepard, and you finish as Alex Shepard. Ok bad joke. you return home after recovering in a hospital after some war, that isnt named and find your town in total chaos. all stores are boarded up, no people out in the streets. even the trucker that gave you a lift thinks its creepy, and truckers must have seen a lot. You end up in Shepard's Glen, town apparently named after you. You meet some characters along the way, find out some secrets and end up a bit tied up in silent hill as well. its not great but it certainly works much better than silent hill 4 worked. no more going troguh the hole though.

People who said silent hill 5 doesn't have atmosphere lied. the atmosphere is there. the town is creepy, the underworld is nasty, except that you don't much of either. the exploration of silent hill games is gone. the path is mostly linear with everything else locked or boarded up. this kills a lot of game as if you found the door that's unlocked you automatically know that that's where you have to go. SH4 suffered from this a but, but this is completely linear. The dialogue in the game wasn't great but it wasn't bad either, and considering how little there is of it its ok.

the gameplay itself is a two edged blade. you can see clear port from consoles in camera work, but then again silent hill games were never good at camera. at least no more first person camera switching now. controls are stiffly and the docking move is mostly hit or miss since sometimes it doest react at all and most of the times it doesn't matter because enemies hit you anyway. but they could have done with a bit better control layout. a bit problem is contact detection. you can walk though a doorway and meet two strong enemies - shisms there. if you jut march in there like your on holiday they are going to cut you to pieces. if you equip a meele weapon and move there using fighting mode its all fine. however if you equip pistol or shotgun your suddenly too big for the doors and the only way to pass them is to exit fighting mode. not that you will have any problem with that when it does that on its own during half the fights resulting in you dieing.

The fighting of the game is worth a complain on its own. the enemies are too darn fast. if you are knocked over by a needler, your dead. he will keep attacking you until you die and you cant do anything because y our character isn't fast enough to stand back up as he gets put down again. this works both ways however as you can keep enemies locked with knife combos. however when doing their "special" attacks most enemies are invulnerable, so watch out for those and don't waste ammo on them. you have two type of knives, two type of crowbar, two type of axe, two type of pistol, two type of shotgun and two type of rifle. don't get happy though as as soon as Alex gets the new pistol he throws away the old one. the shooting weapons are only ones that will allow you to fight enemies without loosing much health. even the sloppy nurses that make their appearance again (after skipping the SH4) carry knives that can one-hit stab you. most enemies can block bullets unless you aim straight for the head so thats not much help either. during the first part of the game even if you used all your bullets on all headshots you wouldn't have enough to beat half the enemies. and thus you suffer a lot of reloads from saved games. during second part you have too many bullets laying around. and you cant carry them. as soon as you have enough bullets for 2 reloads Alex refuses to carry more. he has enough space in his pocket to put knife, steel pipe and axe in, but 4 shotgun bullets wont fit. right. and yes, 4 bullets is "full clip" and thus you can have 12 bullets at most. and thats not enough to down the boss even on medium difficulty (there is no easy difficulty btw, what's up with that?). Thus the fighting depends mostly on luck and random button mashing, but it gets a bit better once your armed with more weaponry.

The monsters in this game finally looks like true monsters. there are only 5 types though and you luckily dont see too many of them. because best tactic is to run. then to run harder, and then to die (see the above paragraph). Then there are 4 bosses. but the second boss is the strongest creature in the game, and the other two bosses after him are much easier to handle. so that puts it up to a lot of imbalance. i didn't even had to reload from saved game during the last two boss fights, and considering i often had to for simple monsters due to "wont let me stand back up" thing that's easy.

Which brings us to game loading. it deserves its own paragraph, because its the major part of the game. i think i spent more time looking at game loading than i did actually playing it. when starting a level you wait around 3 minutes for the game to load, then your screen freezes for another 2 minutes until you can begin to play. after some exploring i figured out that the freeze is actually an autosave in "continue" spots. i often just went and got myself more tea when the next level started loading, it was ready before action started anyway. it has a very bad tendency to decide to "autosave" during battles, at which point you end up frozen in midaction. luckily your enemies also suffer this freeze, so you at least dont die. however you are likely to die from a FPS spike. during many parts of the game and almost every monster fight you will experience your FPS dropping. the game is capped at 30 fps as it is, which is nothing bad on itself, but as soon as you engage in battle or enter larger area it starts going all over the place. this is a bit less noticeable on smaller resolutions, and this is why i was playing it on 640x480 - to be able to play. it still spiked down to 15 frames and so on during battles. the game engine looks to be as corroded and the game it tries to portray. the saving is no better. whenever you encounter a save point firstly it do the autosave freeze, making you fall asleep then loads the saving screen and you have another 1 minute of "accessing saved files" while computer does absolutely nothing. this was probably a security against too fast players for consoles that have to spit up the disc but why keep it in pc version? the saving takes up to a minute too and after that you are treated to "gave saved successfully" for another minute. it really is an ass. another fun thing i found is that when you load a save from main menu, while its processing the menu in the background still works, so you can start new game and load saved game at the same time. but it just loads the saved game normally. The save points is a mess as well. they are placed strategically in places for the most annoyance. when you meet a savepoint you dont really need it. then after killing say 7 shisms and surviving you want to save but there is no other savepoint for at least 15 minutes during wihh you end up killing another 7 shisms and risking all you got so far. then after the savepoint there is 10 minutes of running without any enemies. the boss saves are the worst. when reloading for boss fight number 2 each time i had to do the following: load the game, run 5 minutes in linear corridor, face a chat sequence that is unskippable, see the video sequence with boss that is happily skippable, then get to fight it. try doing that 10 times in a row. they could have placed a savepoint right beside the boss door like they did for first boss, that worked.

another absolutely annoying thing was quicktime events. well they call it "button sequence event" themselves. every few minutes you have to do a mash mouse button 1, mash mouse button 2, mash both mouse buttons and whatever they can come up with. even in boss fights you have to do many button mashing to kill them. it doesnt work. it works even worse when there is 5 enemies on your tail and you have to use button mashing sequence to pry open some door. stop putting quictime events in games you idiots. noone likes them. they annoy everyone (maybe except wee gamers but those deserve what they get anyway). it works in games like indigo prophecy, where whole game is based on that. it doesn't work on normal games.

Puzles were a bit better than SH4 in a sense that some of them actually had a meaning. however most was really just a "guess and be lucky"or "try until success". some for some here were clues, that were obvious and for some you would need to know whole cosmology and still wouldn't get it. many of them dont really tie to the story at all and are there just to "suck some time".

so, finally we have reached the graphics and sound. sound was atmospheric like it always were in silent hill. its good but it didnt really worked with this more aggressive gaming style. the graphics however were awful. i said 4 bad awful, but this looked like it was done even before that. i can talk whole day but just look at the shadow pixelation in screenshot bellow and decide whether could this game really come from 2008 or was it sitting on konami basement since 2002 waiting to be freed?

For a final verdict i am left puzzled. playing the first half of the game i though it was utterly terrible, but second half was a bit better in all departments (well maybe except graphics). So ill be just and give half the scores for half the game. 5/10

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PostSubject: Re: Silent Hill 5: Homecoming   Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:37 pm

thanks for the great review mate, really very detailed and helpful +rep to you again good sir.

its a real shame the silent hill series could have been one of those all time great series, instead it went from great, to good to ok to mediocre which is sad, it had so much promise, it reminds me of the resident evil series, where the first two where epic, a true masterpiece but he later installments where a hack job just trying to cash in on the series name.

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PostSubject: Re: Silent Hill 5: Homecoming   Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:55 am

yeah it could have been more but the controls and the fact that they pretty much ruined the engine (or rather didnt created good one to begin with) was the kill for the game. i havent played resident evil. its on my list, but you know how long it is. most sequels are cash-ins, especially those who arent made by same guys. look at settlers series, the 2nd was the best one, third was ok, 6th was already unplayable and i havent tried the 7th yet. i believe settlers 6 to be the worst strategy game i have played, and strategy is my genre. though orda 2 (not really sure about english name, it was in russian when i played it and it seems google doesnt know orda as a game) was pretty bad too.
well im starting some strategy again with Hearts of Iron now. the first one. being made in 2002 it has its flaws, and since there is no info on the internet about it (everything is about 2 and 3) i am still yet to figure out many things by trial and error. i almost lost a war to Estonia while being soviet union for starters.
So, anyway, due to this being last year in university and that strategy games i like to play long (see: hundreds of hours) the reviews will slow down as i wont be playing many new games that fast. the SH4 and SH5 was a one-time games, i have no wish to play them again really and they are short, whereas grand strategy has really no end, especially in a game so easy to mod. you can open save file with notepad and change anything.

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