PSP Essentials #1: Silent Hill Origins
As I gaze over at my shiny new Vita and the myriad of games that I have just spent hundreds on (and am busy reviewing), I can’t help but fondly remember the olden & golden days of the PSP. I remember using a friends’ Japanese imported Phat console and playing what I remember to be a Wipeout game. It was a cool and slightly surreal experience. Seeing such amazing graphics on a handheld games console was almost awe inspiring.
Now, if truth be told, I was very late to the PSP scene. I remember getting my first PSP after receiving some money for Christmas. The PSP was the first slim model: a piano black PSP 2000. The first title I ever played on the PSP was Silent Hill Origins. I am a huge silent hill fan, and upon launching the game, I could barely contain the excitement and awe that I felt.
This is the start of the PSP Essentials series, and for the first entry let’s start at the beginning. I honestly couldn’t think of a more ironic first entry than Silent Hill Origins.
Silent Hill Origins
This game still astounds me. Yes I am a self confessed Silent Hill nut, but for me, this game was the perfect first Title to play on the PSP, as it really showed me what this console was capable of. The game opens with a vocal exchange between Trucker Travis and and a another unknown trucker via their radios. Everything seems normal until Travis suddenly has to swerve off of the road to avoid hitting a little girl. Upon getting out of his vehicle to check on the girl, he experiences a kind of Flashback or vision. All of a sudden he is engulfed by fog and he enters Silent Hill to try and find help.
This game features a superb soundtrack by Silent Hill music veterans Akira Yamaoka and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. The music is haunting yet somehow catchy. Something that I find myself listening to on long commutes or on a rainy night. The music is Industrial by nature yet very sombre and melodic.
The sound effects are also of a very high quality. Effects are always right on cue and are as unnerving as ever before. This adds a solid layer of immersion to the game, and it really makes you feel like you’re trapped in Silent Hill
Graphically this game exceeded my vision of what the PSP was truly capable of. This game sits on a graphical plane somewhere between Silent Hill 2 and 3, and it does so excellently.
Everything from the Character models to the varied amount of locations and the detail within them feature a huge amount of polish and shine. The monster all retain their gruesome exteriors without ever looking flaky unnatural. Nothing in this game seems off, and the more you look around you, the more detail you will find.
Lighting is an essential asset to this game, and the PSP pulls it off marvellously keeping the entire Silent Hill feel, well and truly there.
The aim of this game is to navigate the vacant and desolate hell known as Silent Hill. As the role of Travis Grady, you must do what you can to understand what satanic forces have gripped the town, and also uncover more about yourself and why you are tied to the town.
On your nightmarish journey you have a number of gruesome and evil forces to contend with. Weapons are scarce and the monsters are relentless. This will often mean that you have to run instead of opting to fight, and that is often the best alternative. There are plenty of Me-lee weapons in the game, meaning that if you really need to fight, but you want to conserve your precious ammunition, you still can. These me-lee weapons aren’t meant to be very reliable though, and they do break after enough use. The enemy you face always have a synthetic feel to them that almost seems to simulate real flesh. They are without a doubt, some of the most grotesque and disturbing monsters ever to grace a silent hill game, and you really will feel a bit uneasy when you face off against them.
This game uses the tweaked tried & tested survival horror mechanics of previous Silent Hill titles and it translates over to the small screen flawlessly.
Well planned rooms and clever camera angles ensure that the action is never out of sight. This means that you aren’t likely to be unfairly mauled or killed by an off screen enemy or trap. An overhauled Silent Hill mechanic in this game is the “Alternate Dimension mechanic” that sees the town shift from a dangerous environment, to a hellish one. This mechanic changes the routes that the player can take to get to a certain point on the map, the items that are in the rooms, or even whether a door locked in one dimension, is unlocked in the other. If you add challenging puzzles and backtracking to mix then you have a brilliant game mechanic that will ensure that the backtracking is never tiresome or repetitive and that enemy placement and difficulty is also varied.
Overall this game was the refreshing slap in the face I needed to start enjoying handheld gaming again. It was so refreshing and somewhat surreal to have a console like experience in the palm of my hand. This game manages to achieve everything the series is known for on the small screen, whether it be the massive budget soundtrack, intricately weaving story line,or the new gruesome, twisted and disturbing monster designs this game nails it all, and is an amazing entry to the franchise.
Don’t miss this one out.
Cheers for reading, more will follow soon,,
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