When I first played Silent Hill on the PS1, my first thoughts that the game was nothing but a Resident Evil rip-off. Well I was dead wrong and the game was much more than that. Since the first one, I've been playing each Silent Hill game enjoying each scary moment. Silent Hill Homecoming is the latest of the series and the first on the new gen consoles. This time around, Konami gave the task of creating a new game to an American game developer, Double Helix, rather than developing the game themselves. They did the same with Silent Hill Origins for the PSP which is still has mixed opinions on it. I think the same will be said for Silent Hill Homecoming.
The story of Silent Hill Homecoming takes a similar approach to the last couple of console Silent Hill games. The game does not start off in Silent Hill. Instead, you start off in Shepard's Glen controlling Alex Shepard. Alex is a solider coming back home after being injured in the war. He's been in fear that his brother, Joshua, is in danger and begins a search to find him. As expected in a Silent Hill game, all is not right in the town and slowly a twisted storyline unravels before you. You can tell that Double Helix took another step in creating a creepy game to live up to the previous titles. There's also clear and subtle references to the Saw movies, the actual Silent Hill move, and the movie that has always been tied as a major inspiration to the Silent Hill games, Jacob's Ladder.
In an attempt to make the game more action oriented, a new melee system has been added but it's still not enough to change the control of the game. Yes you still have the same tank like movements that have been a part of the Silent Hill franchise. The biggest difference this time is the dodge button. With proper timing, you can have Alex dodge and block attack from the enemies. I can stress the timing needed because if your timing is off, you'll get hit. The attacks from the enemies vary so it's not going to always dodge the attack but it's much better than previous installments where the only way to avoid an attack was to run away. The dodge attack also has a secondary function as allowing a quick recovery after a knockdown. The timing for this is crazy but hitting the dodge button as soon as you fall will let you bounce right back up. Also added is a combo system for melee weapons. Depending on which weapon you have equipped, you can make a combo by hitting the buttons for weak and strong attacks. The strong attack can also be held for more power even during a combo. Aside from that, it's still pretty standard control scheme when using gun with a lock on and use of attack button. Also, you can't have a Silent Hill game without puzzles and this game has its share. Some very simple mind teasers while others require a bit more brain work.
Time and time again, Silent Hill pushes the graphics of whatever system it's on and Silent Hill Homecoming is no different. The player models are great looking and detailed even though they still have that problem with the jaw that makes them look off. The city environments, although pre-rendered, still look great and you'll want to look at every wall for anything out of the ordinary. The monsters have been taken to the next level with some very nice details. The best example of this is the dead nurses which have become a staple to the Silent Hill franchise. Nothing is more disturbing that seeing the sexy body and then looking up at the grotesque head of these nurses. It'll take a while to erase that image from your head. The bosses are huge monsters and also lots of detail as well. Unlike previous Silent Hill games, this game makes heavy use of shadows to help create the frightening atmosphere of the game. But any Silent Hill fan knows that the graphics are just one half of the equation with the other half being the music, where Silent Hill Homecoming lives up to its predecessors. Akira Yamaoka is back with another great score with his creepy yet heart-string pulling rock guitar. It fits so well that you'd think that this is the same music you've heard before but you know that it's different. Aside from the Final Fantasy music, I've said that Silent Hill is the next when it comes to music. The voice actors are good, still nothing special but thankfully not terrible.
As you may expect from a survival horror game, it's not a long one. Expect maybe ten hours or so depending on how much exploring you do. Yet what Silent Hill always has is a reason to replay it. There are five different endings and those ending depend on the choices you make when talking to certain characters. Four of them range from a "good" ending to a "bad" ending with the fifth being the funny ending, or what the Silent Hill fanbase has called the "ufo/dog" ending. Then depending on the ending you also unlock costume and weapons. There are talks about possible download content letting you play through another "scenario" but that's up to the developers. More than likely, smaller content (costume, weapons) will make its way through the download content. Still, you may want to replay the game to check out some of the little references to previous games and movie that are there. Also, for the Xbox 360 there are plenty of achievements to get but still nothing for the PS3 yet.
The Silent Hill franchise has become the main survival horror franchise out there and Silent Hill Homecoming doesn't disappoint. It's not the best of the Silent Hill games but it's a very good addition to the franchise. This game is a must pick for any survival horror game fan.