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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a re-imagining of the original Silent Hill for the Nintendo Wii. Using the unique Wii controls expertly to build a tremendous atmosphere and increase the tension of the game, Shattered Memories follows the story of Harry Mason, searching for his daughter in a strange, abandoned town. With an excellent soundtrack provided by Akira Yamaoka and the game eschewing combat entirely, this is a true survival horror game for a new generation.
The original Silent Hill was a masterful display of atmosphere within a videogame, with memorable characters and an oppressive feeling of dread creeping into your mind every time you played. Those early Silent Hill games with their stories of suffering, affliction and revenge are exactly what Silent Hill: Shattered Memories tries to replicate on the Nintendo Wii and succeeds at every turn.
As a re-imagining of the first game, Shattered Memories has you playing as Harry Mason who is searching for his daughter after she's involved in a car accident. The strange and mostly abandoned town that you'll explore and the core story remains the same as Silent Hill 1, but almost everything else is markedly different.
The controls have been completely re-worked for the Wii and work fantastically well. Although you control Mason with the Nunchuk, the Wii-remote itself acts as the flashlight and you essentially play as the torch for the entire game. This system works marvellously well and the way the game looks as you wave the flashlight around is very impressive - everything in the environment casts a realistic shadow, adding an extraordinarily level of atmosphere to the game.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the game, and its best feature in my opinion, is the decision to excise any combat controls. Other Silent Hill games have always struggled with the mechanics of fighting off monsters or paranormal phenomenon that you're faced with and itís refreshing to see that Shattered Memories does away with this. As such, the only option when faced with the grisly entities Silent Hill throws at you is to run away like itís a bad dream.
This method of dealing with enemies leads to some truly horrifying encounters - it's like all those childhood nightmares have come to life and Shattered Memories delights in putting you through the wringer on several occasions. Hiding under beds or in wardrobeís is an option during these intense chase sequences, but getting discovered in this way leads to being pulled out by your feet and devoured in a horrifying fashion. It's this type of design that really brings the term 'survival horror' its true meaning and its impossible not to be terrified during these scenes.
Another feature that sets this apart from other survival horror games is the exhaustive profiling Shattered Memories does of the player. Before the game starts you'll be answering personal questions about your fears, habits and even your sexual preferences. This is tied into the very fabric of the game experience later on; with the monsters you encounter being styled directly to what your own deep fears are. It's this subtle, but more important change that makes Shattered Memories such a tremendous and different experience.
With the revamped controls doing such an excellent job, the next aspect of the game I enjoyed the most was the decision to base the town in snow and ice. This gives the town of Silent Hill a very different character than that of previous games and makes a nice change from the claustrophobic otherworld that Shattered Memories also operates in. It makes this snowy town feel cold, lonely and forlorn - completely appropriate for the game and its setting.
It's clear that Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Nintendo Wii is much more than just a simple re-make of the first game. The core story may remain the same but with the improved controls, oppressive art-style and the absence of any combat means the game conveys a horrifying experience that only the very best Silent Hill game has delivered before.
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