Why I Think Silent Hill 4 is the Coolest Game in the Series
For starters, to clarify: nope, don't care if you don't like it, why you don't like it, what's wrong with so and so, blah blah blah. I love it. It brings me endless nostalgia and joy to play this game and I could care less how much more viable you think your opinion is than mine. I say this because as video game fans we all have a tendency to compare our opinions in a way that's counterproductive to the logic behind HAVING an opinion. Simply put, we think our take on a subject is the only truth, and everyone else needs to be encouraged to break down and agree with us. Silent Hill fans, especially, have this tendency, and it's truly a flaw in our design. If someone likes a game you don't like, that should be fine and dandy, and the opposite applies. This is seldom the case. In the world of SiHi fandom, if I say I don't like Homecoming, I'm a Team Silent fanboy, and if I don't unquestioningly like everything possibly released that has the name "Silent Hill" in it, I'm not being a true fan at all. No. This is all sloppy and dumb.
I say all this because the fanbase is very verbal and opinions are widespread about Silent Hill 4. Some people hate every little aspect (in much the same way I dislike Origins), some people think it's "not well executed", some people think it's the worst game in the series. Still, many fans claim it to be their favorite, say that the story is wonderful, and believe the character design well-done and memorable. I'm in the latter category, personally, and I actually have good quality reasons for liking this particular game (rather than being a fan of Silent Hill 2 "just because" everyone else is, or wanting to like a game that's not on everyone's top ten list or something like that...because yeah, there are actually people that do that sort of thing). In fact, I've got 5 clear, concise, comparatively good reasons for liking this game a whole bunch...and here they are:
1. Hanging out with Eileen. I mean, yeah, lots and lots of people absolutely abhor this part of the game, but I thought it was awesome. Finally, you have someone not cutscene-specific in a Silent Hill game that can travel with you and experience all the goings on. Well, someone besides the totally useless Maria anyway. Not only that, but Eileen actually HELPS YOU. OMG, how is this a bad deal? She's like a more interesting Sheva from RE5. She can fight, read cryptic languages (I wish I had friends that could do that. Never know when I'll need to break out the D&D again.), and provide friendly companionship when I'm tired of looking around by myself. It's also the perfect time to sing the song "Come on Eileen" over and over.
2. It's innovative and unique to the series. Seriously, no other game in the core series features first-person aspects, has a central base of operations, utilizes the partner mechanic, or has such a story-driven and interactive exploration setup. The story progresses via level-like areas that are forced on you, rather than new areas you find in the limited overworld and then are forced to progress through without the ability to turn back. It's a similar system, yeah, but it also feels more focused and necessary in that same instance. You are, after all, just a pawn in the game Walter's playing,and the way the room treats you makes if feel like you're truly helpless and unable to really affect anything despite your best efforts. This creates an atmosphere all it's own, since it feels like a realistic scenario where you have no control, and are forced to simply go with the flow. At least that's how it feels to me. No other game in the series truly impacted me this way...all the others just felt the same as Silent Hill 1, a set formula of "explore town, find important area, solve area and area's otherworld, progress to next area". Nothing wrong with that, but come on...SH4 changed these rules and it felt good and you flippin know it.
3. The characters are well-designed and memorable. Ok, so this one's cliche. From the totally-nuts Richard to the totally-nuts-in-a-different-way Walter, each character has something different to bring to the table. Even the characters that aren't featured in cutscenes seem interesting and well-developed. Most of the other people from the apartment have complex back stories and personalities that many seem to overlook. One guy is a creepy, stalker-type bodybuilder with a fetish for porn and nurses. All Homecoming has is Order cultists with no depth. I expect gnashing of teeth and wailing about now.
4. The story is the darkest in the series. Well, I guess child sacrifice is a bit more taboo, and just about every Silent Hill game handles sacrifice in some way or another, but there's just something about the delivery here that feels gritty and disturbing. Seeing the step by step process of a serial killer in an interactive experience is pretty awesome, especially when you add to it the supernatural aspects of Silent Hill's spiritual powers. Everything plays out at a good pace, with story elements tying into the cutscenes and the exploration all at the same time.
5. It's scary to me. What can I say? I find ghosts and haunted houses and the like very unnerving. So when a ghostly shadow starts appearing in my closet when I wake up from a nightmare, I tend to feel a bit of a shiver. Add to that the tough enemies that like to sneak up on you and make some sort of impromptu, epically loud sound (those dogs and the monkey folk for instance), and I feel on edge rather often. Then we have ghosts roaming around being jerks and going through barriers to add to the tension, and you never really have a place to feel safe at after going through the portal. There is also a good supply of the good old patented Silent Hill "I don't understand what this is and that makes it even creepier" stuff scattered about to get things weird. And sweet freaking Hayzeus the twin headed baby monsters are the creepiest monster from any of the games. I've never been as freaked out as I was in the Water Prison the first time.
I don't know, a lot of it is nostalgia, truth be told. I played this game at an important time in my life, and it just connected with me in a lot of ways. It also helps that I didn't have any connections to the online community at that time, and was able to form my own opinion without hearing all the haters bash the super cool First Person room exploration and all that. I could sit down and play just about any Silent Hill over and over again, but this one is probably my most frequently-played in the series. These reasons set forth are based on opinion and grounded in my experiences, so don't worry if you disagree with something. In fact, feel free to. This is America. Even if you're not from America, consider this series of paragraphs American soil. And in my version of America, freedom of speech still means something.
Gotta say, while you claim to not care if anybody disagrees with your opinion, you devote a significant portion of the article to justifying your opinion to those who would disagree with it.
I think it's the weakest game in the series by a considerable margin, of the ones I've played, but I agree with you 100% on point number 2, which is the primary reason a lot of people categorically hate this game (and all the rest of the ones after the third). I've mentioned in the past how, if you must hate something, hate it for the right reasons. Hating a new game simply because it is not exactly the same as your perceived idea of what Silent Hill should be is ludicrous.
what wrote:Gotta say, while you claim to not care if anybody disagrees with your opinion, you devote a significant portion of the article to justifying your opinion to those who would disagree with it.
I wasn't justifying my opinion. I was just clarifying that it was indeed an opinion and not me telling people things like it was all point-of-fact.
Just have to make it clear beforehand...sometimes long-windedly. I did, after all, post this on the TP forums as well, and some of the people on there can get up in your face if you try to tell them something without a disclaimer.
Also, I'm making it into a video for Youtube eventually, so the dialogue needs to be more relevant.