19 October 2007

SWH07: Week 5 (sixth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 5 (sixth)

Beneath Still Waters (2005)
The orgy at the town's anniversary showed small signs of old school Yuzna, who was barely detectable in the dull and poorly plotted remainder. (5/10)

d. Brian Yuzna

Masters of Horror: "The Black Cat" (2006)
An excellent adaption, capturing the spirit of Poe and his work near-perfectly. (9/10)

d. Stuart Gordon

Baby shower 2/2 was the main focus of this weekend, again, rather than Halloween. Though, driving through Michigan at this precise time of year is incredibly beautiful.

I gave two Jones Soda flavors a day in court: Strawberry Slime and Gruesome Grape. They taste almost exactly like their equivalent Faygo flavors (which, I'd like to state, was good drinkin' long before utter idjits started promoting it). What this means to me is that they're completely drinkable. Unbelievably, I found all 4 of the half-can Halloween flavors to be tasty this year. Jones is getting better at this. Of course, next weekend I will be experimenting with their new licorice-flavored drinks. That may change my opinion.

Silent Hill 4: The Room was about as bad as I was expecting. A dull game full of bad choices. One of the worst ideas from the Resident Evil series -- the item box -- was imported and made even more annoying. Rather than multiple boxes that magically teleport your items between each other, there's only one box with which to manage your limited inventory. Accidentally pick up too many bullets and have no room for that key item? You'll have to make a trip all the way back to the apartment, dump some stuff in the box, and walk all the way back. There's no way to simply drop items where you stand. In the universe I live in, this is not remotely close to fun.

About half of the game is an escort mission, essentially. Making sure that a dumb AI-controlled character doesn't get itself killed is rarely more than frustrating (though I did get into it in the excellent Dead Rising). Herding Eileen through levels isn't too bad. You can run faster than her, making it easy to trap her in a room by exiting it before she's close to the door (the AI being too stupid to using doorknobs). Still, during my playthrough, she got wounded enough to get me the worst of the four endings.

There are no bosses, really, to speak of until the end of the game. There aren't really any puzzles outside of collecting items. The areas are the same old stuff: the requisite hospital, a subway, a prison, a forest, an apartment building. To play the game, you shuffle from area to area, occasionally batting down a mutant dog (also a requisite) while picking up items to unlock the path ahead. That's about it. It's as tedious as it sounds.

Play mechanics were never the series' strong suit. The storyline is supposed to be where SH shines. Not so much, here. A serial killer -- who happens to come from Silent Hill, though the game takes place in a different town altogether -- everyone thinks is dead isn't really and he's trying to finish a black magic ritual by killing 21 people. Also, he thinks your apartment is his literal mother. Outside of that bit of psychosis, SH's trademarked psychological horror is largely absent here. You're the hero: you save your pretty neighbor and the world from a bad guy. The end. It's a complete disappointment. I hope the Americans making the next two games can rescue the series from this low point.

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