Silent Hill: Homecoming

I’ve been well overdue in writing this.

For Christmas, my family gave me a copy of “Silent Hill: Homecoming“.  This was the major reason I wanted a PS3.  Silent Hill has long been my favorite video game franchise since the original title’s release.  Of course, if you read my previous entry about Silent Hill Origins, you’ll know that I was a bit let down and hoping this game would redeem the bloodline.  It did so in spades and had me so hooked, after 3 evening / early morning jags, I had completed the game.

Silent Hill: Homecoming, in my mind, is what the franchise was always meant to be.  Silent Hill 2, by many accounts, was the pinnacle of the series, and I think in this latest installment, Homecoming meets the mark set by that early title.  There are many detractors who have described Homecoming as drawing out what should’ve been a graceful end to the series.  Of course, I was going into this game skeptical as this was the first console game designed entirely by an American studio, and many critics said the American aesthetic had detracted from the Japanese style horror.  However, Silent Hill: Homecoming has all the elements that made the series excel : story, environments, music, and that unique combination of scares that only Silent Hill can pull off.  Moreover, this particular title brought in a whole new set of elements which stand it apart as being the new flagship in the series.

1) Graphics – The game is just plain gorgeous.  There’s no getting around it.   Unlike the previous games, the player has complete freedom to view the environment from any perspective to really soak in the masterfully crafted world.  This just wasn’t possible in the previous platforms and on the PS3, the environments just envelope you.  Moreover, the monsters become much scarier when you actually have to look to see them.  It’s quite a rush to be in a dark hotel hallway and suddenly hear the steps of some monster directly behind you.

The monsters have real visual depth.  The prime example are the nurses which have been in the games since the original title.  In Homecoming, you can actual feel, with your eyes, the textures of their skin, clothing, weapons, it’s just so much more real and frightening.  The physics guiding those movements are believable and the rules of combat are much better defined than in previous titles (especially Origins).

2)  Music  – Of course, Akira Yamaoka, who has been the series composer since the beginning, came back for this title, but what struck me as interesting in this incarnation was the way music would come and go as part of the environment.  Unlike other titles where music was a separate layer on top of the game, in Homecoming, music actually fades in and out as the player runs through the world.  This use of music as a component of the environment spatially really enhances the world’s depth.

3) Gameplay – Homecoming has a whole new level of complexity in the game controls.  It takes some serious getting used to, however, once you’ve started up the game, you’ll be so engrossed learning the controls will come fairly quickly and progress as the game progresses in difficulty.  The combat is certainly more prevalent in this game, but this is not a first person shooter by any means, you still need to use your brains to run when it’s appropriate and fight when it’s necessary.  Again, though, the very act of having to control the perspective of the player, and the aim of the attack adds this new layer of tension to the experience and an increasing feeling of “being in the game”.

Overall, Homecoming is a piece of art.  The developers deserves praise for maintaining and reinvigorating a tradition through some powerful inventions.  I sincerely hope this becomes the new standard for the series.

Been Busy

Hi All,

I apologize for the absolute lack of updates on my site for almost two months!

I’ve been hard at work on my company’s webpage and frankly, I can only take so much web work.  Once that behemoth is out of the way, I will get back to updating my site with a slew of new content.

Until then.

Museums

I haven’t made an entry in a while.  I’ve been busy with work, travel, and, well, some other creative pursuits:)  (a film and a new medium which I’ll get to discussing soon).

Recently, I had the chance to go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LOCMA).  If you get a chance, it’s definetely worth the time.  Photo was my major area of attraction that day and they had an interesting show called “A Story of Photography”.  They also had pieces from Picasso’s blue period and a few Pollocks which I always enjoy.  Of course, there are a mass of other pieces and artists that I just don’t know and some of you do.  I can’t recount them here, but here’s the link to the museum to see: http://www.lacma.org/

I was just a bit too early for the Vanity Fair show, but I hope to get back sometime between here and March to see that as well.

Focusing more locally (New England), my favorite museums thus far have been:

1) The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

2) Yale University Art Gallery

3) Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art

4) International Center of Photography

5) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

6) Wadsworth Atheneum

IBC – Day 1 – Adobe Production Premium CS4

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 After my original writeup from the tradeshow, Creative Cow was told to pull their writeup by Adobe.  I then took mine down.  Creative Cow now has theirs back up, so, I guess I’ll repost my take on CS4.

CS4 is going to be cool.  At first, as I watched the demo, I wasn’t quite sure, but I realized they were building up to the real summit of what is going to be great in CS4.  

1) Broadened use of “Dyanamic Link” – ie, now you can move back and forth between Premiere and After Effects as well as After Effects and FLASH!!!!!

2)  AE and Flash – – this is going to be sick . . . AE layers can be pulled directly into Flash for animation (wow)

3) Speech Transcription  – – Premiere will automatically transcribe spoken works and make video libraries, as well as frames within the videos searchable according to the resultant text!

4) New Effects for AE?  A decent cartoon effect.  With a few clicks, it was actually fairly impressive.

So, there you go.  When I was at IBC, this was one of the things I made sure I attended at Adobe.  This was just a “sneak peak”.  I imagine there will be much more fun behind the new release (not to mention some of the stuff one can find on YouTube surrounding Photoshop CS4).

 

 

 

 

 

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