My copy of Homecoming finally arrived yesterday and I immediately started playing (getting as far as the cemetery section). After putting down the controller I decided I'd do a thread of my immediate impressions like I did when I first played Origins, so...yeah. I rather like it so far, though I guess I'm just pre-disposed to liking stuff unless I have prior reason:
- The first thing that struck me was the music, I've loved the Homecoming soundtrack for a while, but hearing it in context adds alot of gravitas to it. Walking through the streets of Shephard Glen with the menu theme playing in the background was a great scene-setter for me.
- Right off the bat, I was a little underwhelmed by the opening. While the fog-world hospital set a brilliant atmosphere with your puny, little torch dimly lighting oppressive, archaeic hospital archetecture and some wonderful ambience, once it went to the otherworld it started to feel a bit cheesy for me as far as Silent Hill is concerned and only picked up again after the end of this sequence.
- At this stage I started to take a liking to the game once you get to Shephards Glen. Having played Downpour I can say the town environment doesn't feel nearly as alive or atmopsheric as that game, but this initial section of the game, to me still has a great atmospshere of it's own.
- The story gets off to a good start, the early stages help set up a weirdness about the characters which I like (meeting Judge Holloway, your mother ect) and the performances (again, barring Downpour's) are probably some of the best in the series, Alex's mother, for me being a standout character so far in this regard.
- I was slightly annoyed by the comparitive linearity of the games opening sequence at first; being herded down a succession of doors and corridors in the hospital, but I feel that once you get to Shepherds Glen this sets up a nice contrast to the street sections. Plus I guess it helps serve the purpose of introducing the story.
- So far I have to say I really appreciate the combat in Homecoming as opposed to say Silent Hill 2, while it's the least arduous combat in the series IMO it doesn't feel the need to hold your hand through it which I really appreciate in this gaming generation and isn't afraid to kick your arse if it'll teach you a lesson.
- On the subject of combat; while this game does improve the combat, it still keeps a mood of survival horror which I was kinda impressed by. During the hospital sequence, for the first time in the series I found myself actually turning off my light and radio and fumble about in pitch darkness for a door just to avoid fighting shit.
- Still kinda bothered by the stuff taken from the film, most pertenantly the otherworld transition in the toilets in the hospital.
I recently purchased Homecoming also. I've finished playing through it and was pleasantly surprised by it. I know the game did not get the most favorable reviews, and there definitely are some flaws in the game. Overall I really enjoyed playing it and the new combat style took a little to get use to. Once you get the hang of the dodging and attacking it actually becomes really fun, and toward the end I found myself looking froward to having to fight enemy's. All in all I think it was a really great addition to the SH series. I hope you continue to enjoy playing it and I'll be looking forward to some more updates on your progress.
I would just like to add that I really like the soundtrack to the game, and I think it is my favorite thus far in the series.
Back again: - One criticism I will level at the game so far as I go from the cemetery to the first save point in the Grand Hotel is that in comparison to earlier games I find the puzzles slightly insulting to my intelligence. The pace of the game does help to make this nothing more than a nagging annoyance to me. That's one observation I'll make in that unlike the other titles in the series which are more ponderous pieces, Homecoming is unique in this franchise in that it has a certain momentum to it. It understands how it's structured and creates a slightly "bouncier" pace to fit it, which IMO isn't a bad thing, just different. But still, more challenging puzzles (or puzzle difficulty settings) would be nice.
- Ah...the infamous "Why hasn't this car been towed?"
- The monsters (original ones at least, see my above thing about the film references) are generally very cool so far (except for the dogs, who the fuck did the skin-work on those arseholes?), but I find the neon smoker things hard to take seriously.
- I like how they included an ammo limit in this game, it's not going to be like SH2 where I eventually ended up with 200 pistol bullets and the security blanket of 60 fucking shotgun shells. Another perk I think of the unforgiving combat system combined with the ammo limitations is that you have to choose between getting into risky CQC situations and using precious ammo, something survival horror is all about. It also helps that the enemies don't just stand around docile half the time and are actually threatening (like I said, except for Mr Neonbreather over here).
- The hotel...oh the hotel. I liked the film Homecoming, but must you constantly reference it?
- I'm also still liking the characters as of meeting Elle (short of meeting Douchebag Curtis).
Some of the later puzzles are just ridiculous, so don't worry about it, you'll have fun with those. I guess they decided to just make them progressively more difficult as the game went on.
I really liked HC. A few slow parts here and there, but overall pretty well-paced.
The ammo limit was awesome. I don't see why people always said HC was the most action-centric title just because it had enhanced (non-garbage) combat for once. Ammo was hella-scarce even on normal difficulty, hard mode was just crazy. You really need to save your ammo for the enemies which melee is pretty tough or useless against. I had moments where I'd run out of ammo or get overwhelmed and literally end up running for my life in almost total darkness... Something I never really had to do in any of the other games since I'd always have like 80 shotgun shells and 200 pistol rounds.
It is the enemies that kinda killed quite a bit of the horror for me in SH2, while the designs were abstract and horrifying as only the boss Mistah Ito can swing, their behaviours made them quite non-threatening and a bit of an after thought. Not Homecoming though, as of meeting Needlers I can safely say that Homecoming is like Killing Floor in that it'll boot you up the testes if you fall asleep for five minutes. And I find that kinda refreshing in this series.
Oh, you think darkness is your ally. You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it--I didn't see the light until I was already a man. By then, it was nothing to me but blinding! The shadows betray you because they belong to me!