Silent Hill is back for yet another scary outing - this is the sixth in the series - but has the franchise still got what it takes to make us jump with fright? We turn the lights off and the PS3 on to find out.
Silent Hill Homecoming is the first outing of the game on the PS3 and sees you play a new character to the Silent Hill universe albeit around the same familiar landscape.
As with most of the Silent Hill games the emphasis is on the scare rather than the action and here you're Alex Shepherd, a solider discharged from the army, returning home (hence the title) to investigate the disappearance of his dad and kid brother in sleepy town Shepherd's Glen.
Like Silent Hill, which just so happens to be down the road, the town is covered in a blanket of fog and darkness meaning you'll have to spend most of the time with no real idea where you're going. Luckily you get a torch.
Cue disturbing dreams, random noises and monsters appearing occasionally to scare you half to death and you'd hope you had yet another scary title to get your teeth into.
Unfortunately, for Silent Hill Homecoming, that doesn't appear to be on the cards. Maybe it's the fact that this is the sixth outing that we've got a bit used to flesh-eating monsters and skinned dogs that have nothing better to do than try and eat you, but the scare just isn't there for us. My 3-year-old daughter can be more frightening that this game.
The problem is that you never really have a need to be worried. Unlike before when you're just an average Joe thrown into a horror scenario, here you've got combat skills - light and heavy attacks work nicely with dodging skills and that's before you have to worry about your which weapon you are going to use to rid yourself of the impeding doom coming your way.
Ok so you have to wait about 3 hours before getting your pistol, but once you get it, it makes killing those monsters a lot easier than having to run for your life with nothing but your bare fists to defend yourself with.
Action is slow, with most of the time used to solve simple puzzles (find two objects to open door kind of stuff) or talking to the town folk you find along the way. But the game biggest problem is that you don't really feel any sense of belonging to the game or care about what happens to your brother you are trying to find. The opening sequence sees to that.
For someone who has never seen flesh-eating monsters, Alex takes it all in his stride. Personally if I returned home to my hometown, found my dad and brother missing, my mother gone slightly vague and had a close encounter with something that wanted to eat me, the next person I met would know about it. Alex seems more interested in having a chat about town history than explaining that he just knifed his way out of a fight with a 200lb dog.
Likewise the people that Alex does meet seem to be so unconcerned that their quaint surroundings are going to shit that's it’s hard to get into the story at all. The result is that you don't really care, and if you don't care it all gets rather dull and boring.
If you can bear it, the graphics are good, although it's mostly dark corridors and fog-filled vistas. The sound effects and soundtrack - specially recorded by Akira Yamaoka - help to bring the Silent Hill offering to the PS3, but it's not enough to raise it above the usual array of hack and slash action titles Silent Hill Homecoming has found itself now competing against.
In the movies they say the further down the sequel road you get the more disappointing the efforts become. Unfortunately it's the same here. It's a nice attempt from Konami to keep the Silent Hill fans happy, breaking from the main storyline with new characters and the odd cameo, but Silent Hill Homecoming feels like a side story rather than part of the main narrative and it's weaker because of it. The problem is that in doing so, Konami has sucked any lifeblood out of the game.
Fans are likely to be disappointed.
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