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Pics/Details/Impressions/Interview (Wii Version):

Sillent Hill: Shattered Memories

- you have to fill out a personality profile
- storefront examples: Teresa’s used-clothing store, Clear Picture video store
- open doors just a bit and peer inside with flashlight
- puzzle example: pick up a can, shake the Wiimote to hear it rattle, flip Wiimote upside down to retrieve object inside
- this is not Harry’s first visit to Silent Hill
- Harry may be suffering from Amnesia
- cell phone static gives off clues
- pictures may have to be taken to find clues
- things will change during gameplay, such as locations, clothing and items
- creatures will react to heat in a negative way
- flares are used to keep monsters off
- flares do burn out
- Harry has crashed on the side of the road while in a snowstorm.
- Harry’s daughter is missing, and he sets off into Silent Hill to find her
- game kicks off with in a psychiatrist’s office where we hear of a new patient arriving. After that exchange, we see Harry fall from his car into the snow just after his crash. We then flash back to the office with the psychiatrist talking to this new patient
- camera is first person during the office segment. You can look around while the psychiatrist talks
- you must fill out a psychiatric profile
- when asked questions by the psychiatrist, you can wave your Wiimote up and down/left to right to answer
- after this exchange you flash back to the accident with Harry calling for his daughter
- almost every decision you make impacts the game. For example, if you first choose to look at your map or a girlie calendar on the wall, the game makes note of this decision
- an example of early changes: as you fill out your profile, the game will present you with different situations. When walking through town, you might see an open bar or an open diner. These things change as you make more and more choices
- minus button to bring up your phone, which houses all sorts of important information
- use phone to dial, take pics, text, check voicemail, browse phonebook, changes options and settings (whose viewer shows a slowed framerate a la iPhone) to take and store pictures, check text messages and voice mail, look through your phone book, and access game options and settings
- take pictures of the environment to reveal new details: take a picture of a swingset with no one around it, look at the pic to see your daughter sitting on the swing
- pictures can cue voicemails and other occurrences
- game world changes from Silent Hill to evil Silent Hill right before your eyes
- no longer a hellish look…things are more ‘icy’
- static on your phone still clues you in as it did in past games
- stunning flashlight effects
- Nunchuk to walk, hold Z to run, C for 180-turn, A for actions, B-trigger plus A to pick items up, D-pad for phone, D-pad down to view behind you
- intelligent enemies will hunt you down, talk to other enemies to find you, open doors and climb fences
- one again, no weapons
- Harry talks to himself throughout the game to rehash info
- no load times
- camera filter returns from previous games
- flashlight will even light up snowflakes
- Wii is the lead platform

IGN: Why did you want to bring Silent Hill to Wii?

Tomm Hulett: In moving to Wii, we had a chance to revitalize Silent Hill as a series, and do new things that weren't possible before, both for the series and the genre. This move made sense for two reasons. The first, well it's a no brainer if you look at the Wii remote. The flashlight and the radio static -- two trademark features of the series -- are right there on the controller. It's too perfect.

IGN: Some people will call the game a remake of the first. Is that accurate? Tell us why not.

Tomm Hulett: It's definitely not a remake.

IGN: What does photographing ghosts do for you?

Sam Barlow: You don't photograph ghosts --- that's Fatal Frame! You can however take photos of anything in the world that interests you. And there are some spots that are marked by strong emotions or events. Taking photos of these places might reveal what those emotions or events were.]

IGN: Tell us about the enemies in the game.

Sam Barlow: They're relentless, intelligent creatures that outnumber Harry. Like everything in the game, this enemy is part of the dynamic psychology content.

Mark Simmons: They are very intelligent and extremely dynamic. They will hunt you down, co-ordinate with each other, flank you, cut you off, herd you, and stop you. You're in a nightmare and all you can do is hope to escape. As you can climb over walls, fences, through windows, up ladders, jump gaps, up stairs, through doors, so can they. They can go everywhere you can go and more. The enemy will evolve as the game goes on into your perfect nightmare creature based on your psychological profile.

IGN: Harry doesn't have any offensive weapons. He has to run. Why's that?

Sam Barlow: Because if he doesn't he's toast. You're alone in a nightmare, there are several freaky creatures coming for you -- what would you do? Hitchcock said that all horror goes back to childhood, that's why it's a universal thing -- it's a fundamental. How many children wake up screaming because they had a dream where they beat up a zombie with a baseball bat? You wake up screaming because you ran and you got caught. So don't get caught -- run.

IGN: Tell us about the 3D engine you've created for Wii. It's really impressive.

Sam Barlow: It’s a great engine. It’s been worked up in house and has a lot of great render features thanks to James Sharman, one of our elite programming brains. We have a ton of effects which I haven’t seen elsewhere, or done quite as well. The lighting is an obvious hook — full shadowing off everything, self shadowing on characters. Even the snowflakes cast shadows. Then there’s the suite of ice shaders that are better than anything else I’ve seen on Wii. This should look like a 360/PS3 game running in SD. That’s the idea.

IGN: What rating are you aiming for with the title? Will there be profanity, sexual content, violence?

Tomm Hulett: It’s a Silent Hill title, so it will be rated Mature. This is not a watered-down version of the series.

IGN said:
I'm calling my editor, Mark Bozon on my cell phone. "Man, you're going to hate me," I say. "I just saw what could be the most impressive third-party game on Wii." There's nothing better than being unexpectedly blown away.

Bear in mind, I spent about 15 minutes with the game and my experience was eyes-on, not hands-on. Still I've been doing this for long enough to spot a quality project when I see one and Shattered Memories has incredible written all over it. The specifics will follow, but here are the footnotes: absolutely outstanding technology, superbly implemented controls, extremely moody atmosphere and smart design. Rarely do I walk away from a demo without any negatives, but the only thing I could come up with as I relayed my experience to Bozon on the phone was so trivial that that it was barely worth mentioning.

You're going to read this a lot -- in previews, interviews, whatever -- but while Shattered Memories is based on the characters and events that powered the original game, it is not so much a remake as it is a re-imagining. You play as Harry Mason, crashed on the side of the road in the middle of a snowstorm. He wakes to find his daughter gone and proceeds to look for her throughout the eerie town of Silent Hill. If you played the PlayStation game, this probably all sounds familiar, but rest assured that the plot diverges quickly.


Armed with the flashlight, you take control and everything you do is being monitored, considered. Based on your actions, the game itself changes on the fly. The design of the world. The characters. How they treat you. Everything. When Harry inevitably walks into a deserted office setting and looks around, the game will be analyzing your decisions. If you immediately look for a map, it'll think you're practical. If you look at a girlie picture instead, not so much. Either way, these decisions will incite changes, possibly even some with consequences.

Here's an example. As Harry explores the town, he will soon see through the snow some kind of open establishment. Based on the choices he's made previously -- both in the profile and presumably along the way in his snowy travels -- something will have changed. In some cases, he'll see an open diner. In others, an open bar. As I watched, it was the latter. Harry walks inside, confused, and chats with a bartender.

"I knew this weather couldn't keep everybody away," she says. "Name your poison." He explains that he's there looking for his daughter, shows her a picture and she tells him where she could be hiding on such a snowy evening. "Oh, ****. I'd offer to call for help, but the phones are all out because of the storm," she adds. Harry, meanwhile, is clearly still out of it. He notices to his astonishment that his own ID indicates he lives in Silent Hill. "That accident of yours -- you take a knock to the head?" the bartender asks. A few minutes later, Harry finds himself trekking through the snow again. "**** -- I should have known where I am," he says. "What the hell is wrong with me?" He decides to go back the way he came and looks to his cell phone for guidance.


As it turns it, that's a good choice because this iPhone-esque device -- an integral component of the game -- is your one-stop hub for all the information and tools you could possibly need. The minus button brings up the device. You can dial numbers, use a camera (whose viewer shows a slowed framerate a la iPhone) to take and store pictures, check text messages and voice mail, look through your phone book, and access game options and settings. In my demo, one of the Konami reps tried to dial 911. "911, what's your emergency?" a voice asks through your Wii remote. Harry responds on-screen. There's some kind of interference, though and the 911 operator cannot hear him. She keeps asking if anybody is there and then hangs up. It's a very effective means to maintain Silent Hill's trademark sense of isolation.

What's the point of taking pictures with your cell phone? Konami showed me. As Harry approaches a dilapidated children's playground, he notices that something is off about a swing-set's color -- that it looks a bit more static than the rest of the environment. He cues his phone, snaps and picture and sees his daughter in the photograph. That, in turn, triggers a voicemail to his cell. He brings it up and listens. "Daddy, I'm hurt," the message plays. Voicemail messages like these occur regularly and both help drive the storyline and offer players guidance. Later, when the town is transforming right before Harry's eyes into something much more nightmarish, his phone rings and his daughter screams, "You have to run, daddy. You can't fight them. Run!"

This is, of course, Silent Hill's transformation from lonely small town to nightmare world. In the original game, that alternate locale was hellish, bloody, rusty. Not so in the re-imagined Wii title. It's icy. And the world distorts dynamically right before your eyes. Even as Harry's daughter screams for him to flee, the buildings around him take on an icy glaze, distort, change shapes, pillars shoot upward from the ground and the scene darkens. Snow particles freeze in midair. A car alarm goes off in the distance. The entire display is breathtaking -- easily one of the most impressive presentational feats on Nintendo's console.

Harry runs toward a dark alleyway. He's looking around with the flashlight. There's a dumpster on one side. As he walks around, he hears more and more static through his cell phone, which is the game's audio cue that something important or horrific is probably very close by. Suddenly, directly opposite a sheet of ice, a skinny, deformed Silent Hill monster comes shambling forward and crashes into the frozen barrier, staring and shrieking at him. It then runs off, presumably to find another way toward him. The entire scene is definitely unnerving and atmospheric. This is the first glimpse of these gruesome foes in the game and it won't be long until it returns.


In fact, because Harry has no weapons at his disposal to speak of -- this is a choice designed to heighten the sense of defenselessness and amplify fear; I've seen some reader complaints about this decision, but I love it -- he'll have to be quick on his feet to outsmart the mutilated enemies who pursue him. They aren't exactly dumb, either. They will hunt the character relentlessly, following him through the world, smelling and tracking him, communicating with other enemies to find him, and more. They'll go through doors, too, and over fences. At one point in the demo, Harry attempted to hop over a fence -- a seeming canned animation -- but got pulled back off it in mid-climb by one of his grotesque chasers. Even if he had made the jump, the creature could still hop over it, too, and continue the chase.


After only 15 minutes with an unplayable demo, the title has shot up to the top of my must-have list -- and once you see this sucker in motion, you're going to know why.
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