|System: PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Climax Studios UK||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Since it started out its life on the PSP, Origins won't win any polygon count awards, but it gains ground in the presentation department. Static filters tear up the screen, reacting dynamically to enemy positions. The closer you get to an enemy the more granular the screen becomes, adding a visual cue to the familiar crackling of the radio you carry at all times. It's a shame Climax didn't take the time to implement a fully 3D camera system. The camera angles, while cinematic, can be problematic during enemy encounters and hitting the button to re-center your view isn't always a success - sometimes it refuses to pull behind Travis. The game has an option to switch the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 - a nice bonus should you have a widescreen display. Presentation is just as much about sound as it is about graphics, and series composer Akira Yamaoka may be in his finest form. From chilling themes to hypnotic beats and even a few mesmerizing vocal numbers, Yamaoka has done another remarkable job.
Pacing is extremely important in any story driven game - spending too long in one location without any exposition or confusing players about where they need to go next can be death knells for a game. Climax successfully dodges those bullets and provides just the right amount of momentum. Sure, the game is short (and it was meant to be since it started out as a portable affair), but everything seems to unravel at just the right tempo, revealing enough info to turn you in the appropriate direction and enticing you to discover more of Travis' past. Even the game's puzzle segments have a story to tell. While the puzzles themselves are clichés of PC adventure games - you'll be flipping levers, discovering combinations, and doing a lot of point-and-click-esque work - they are all interesting. One puzzle involves a series of sadistic miniature dolls. Discovering memos and investigating areas of a sanatorium reveals that each doll corresponds to a mentally deranged person and their affliction.
Don't let the game's length throw you off. After each playthrough you're awarded "accolades" based on your performance that reveal new costumes. You can also unlock new weapons and extra game options. For the story hungry, there are two more endings that can be earned after your initial playthrough.
Origins is a solid entry in a popular horror franchise, but some mechanics (such as the combat and camera) show that the series is in need of a reboot. However, it's hard to beat the psychological sense of the fear that Silent Hill creates, and it's easy to see why the games have a loyal following of fans.
CCC Freelance Writer