Silent Hill : Part 1
1 : 2 : 3
Harry makes his way through a twisting, turning alley while the game camera pitches and yaws like crazy and a sound best likened to an air-raid siren starts getting stronger on the soundtrack. Then, because it's just not clear enough that we're not in the best possible section of town, things start getting darker. Harry mentions this in passing then lights a lighter. Honestly, Harry. I don't think whatever's waiting down this alley wants to join you in a "Play Free Bird!" chant. At the corner there's an overturned wheelchair with one wheel still spinning, and it would appear that we're going into some kind of underground, what with all the pipes and valves and sewer-y apparatus visible. Up ahead there's a blood-soaked hospital bed, a chain-link fence, and more pipes. I hate to admit this, but I am really fucking lost. But are we lost in an alleyway behind a section of shabbily genteel homes in a quiet little town, or are we lost in the bowels of some labyrinthine building, sure to meet our doom? Does it really fucking matter, since I just know some horrible monster's going to rush out at any second and tear poor Harry's head off?
|It's like Jesus, in a way.
And with horrible monsters in mind, Harry stumbles across, then recoils at the - for lack of a better word, remains of someone hanging off of a section of fence. He expresses shock, but does he turn around and run as fast as his non-bending little legs will carry him back out to the road and away from this otherworldly charnel house? No, he does not. He stands there immobile so some bald, naked humanoid creatures can zero in on that lighter he's holding and practice their practical knife-work on his stomach. With no weapon to use in defending himself, Harry dies a stabbity death. People, I am six minutes into this game, counting the intro montage. Six minutes and I've already allowed my character to bite the big one. God, I suck.
As if to underscore the fact that your intrepid recapper does indeed suck ass at survival-horror games, the screen goes black. Imagine my surprise when it switches to FMV mode and I see Harry lying on a diner's bench seat. He again wakes with a start and sits up, showing off that fab 1999-style character modeling that we're going to see so much of during the game. Well, I shouldn't complain, really. It could've been a bunch of obvious polygons. Our boy's staring at something to the left of the screen, and since the game designers are damned near creaming themselves to show off the maiden fair, here she struts, all short blonde hair and tight leather pants. The black leather gloves with a short-sleeved uniform shirt complete her "Little Miss Good Cop" ensemble nicely. Maiden Fair smirks at Harry; then crosses her arms in front of her, looking altogether very smug. So as to not shoot their wad all in one go, the game designers send us back to regular gameplay mode for the next section of dialogue, done in not-all-that-bad voiceovers.
Maiden Fair starts asking Harry to give her the 411 on why he suddenly decided to crash his Jeep into a mountainside, and the combination of the voices, the soundtrack, and the script are staring to scream "cheesy porno film" in big ways. It doesn't help matters that MF is perched all cute and perky on one of the diner's bar seats, showing off her leather-clad gams for all they're worth.
|But I wouldn't say no to some hot police lovin', darlin'.
MF and Harry talk a little bit more, and Harry asks her if she's seen his daughter Cheryl. MF says no, that the only person she's seen so far in town has been this hot, handsome stranger with the big...concern. Harry and MF get their introductions out of the way, oddly enough before they rip their clothes off and start humping like bunnies, so this beats your average porno film set-up by a ways. MF's name is Cybil Bennet, and she's an officer o' the law in the next town over. Well, that explains why she looks model-perfect instead of horribly deranged, but we'll get to that part later.
Harry, aware that the soundtrack hasn't yet broken out with the "baumchickabaum" sound that signals some hot, handcuffed loving, gets tired of waiting and gets up to leave. Cybil wants to know where he's going, and though my first guess is a whorehouse to alleviate the effects of blue balls, he claims he's going back out into the foggy snow to find his daughter. Cybil warns him about the dangers to be found in town; then wants to know if Harry's got a gun. And while this opens us up to the phallic nature of guns and the myriad puns you could use at this point to bring the conversation back onto cheap porno sex, if the game can rise above it, then dammit, so can I -- with difficulty. Harry does not, as it turns out, have a gun. Oh, hell, there's a "half-cocked" joke just waiting to happen here, folks. How many other ways can I emasculate this poor man in the first ten minutes of the game? I've gotten him killed, made fun of his walk, and now I'm talking about the flatness in the front of those practical, soccer-dad Dockers he's wearing.
Cybil gives Harry a three second gun safety lecture, which ends by her telling him to not shoot her by mistake. Harry promises to look before he shoots, which is good advice for any young man out there. Nothing will kill romance faster than an inappropriate shot, be it a lead slug in your honey's abdomen or a...you know, I just can't finish this sentence. Make your own disgusting sexual pun, won't you?
With Cybil gone to call for back-up, Harry's left to explore the diner. Lo and behold, what do we find but some ammunition, a flashlight, a map of the town, a butcher's knife and a "health drink", the game's answer to those wimpy mystical RPG potions. See how much better survival horror games are than those RPGs my friends and neighbors? It's using stuff out of real life, like boxes of handgun bullets lying around in diners, and health drinks that don't taste like malted battery acid! Uh huh. And to make sure that things stay as real as possible, there's no chance that we're going to find these helpful items anywhere else but a gun shop and a health food store, right? No? Little Magical Survival Horror Elves of Plenty are going to be going around planting this shit in boxes, barrels, store shelves and finally just leaving it lying around in the street so we don't miss it? Yeah, this is some true-to-life action right here.
There also happens to be a save-point in the form of a red notepad and pen in the diner near the map and flashlight, so I make use of it, considering how easily I can get Harry killed with my 1337 gaming prowess. And, as it turns out, there's one more item that I neglected to pick up in my swag-snagging orgy - the radio. I'm reminded of it only when Harry's trying to leave this greasy spoon for the thrills and excitement that await him out in the bustling metropolis of Silent Hill. The door to the diner won't open, and the camera focuses back on the now switched-on radio, broadcasting its rockin' static out to Listen Land, current population: 1. Harry makes sure to mention that crazy transistor sound, while the camera angle switches so that we're viewing Harry from the outside of the diner looking in. Yeah, um, can we just get the first baddie fight over with without all the cinematic bullshit, game designers? Harry's ready to burn off all that repressed sexual tension from earlier by killing something. It's a man thing.
Speaking of man things, here comes one! No, not a penis, but a vaguely humanoid creature with pterodactyl wings and head, but the torso and legs of a human. It flies around, making croaking sounds and hitting Harry in the head while he fires the gun like a person who's never fired a handgun in their entire life. Miraculously, he kills the thing and as a reward, he gets to keep the now ichor-splattered radio. Mindless gun violence and goodies, yo! That ought to be worth a missed blowjob or two, I'm thinking. Feeling studly from his first kill, Harry steps outside as if to say "Here I am, you big, weird town! I've got a gun, and I'm
not afraid to use it!" Then, in a fit of masochism I can't even begin to address within the confines of this recap, Harry decides that his best course of action is to go back down the alley where he sorta kinda got killed the last time, but only in some purely metaphysical sense since he woke up on a diner bench within arm's reach of a hot female cop. Yeah, it doesn't make a damned bit of sense to me either, but let's just go with it. In the town of Silent Hill, it's not just the game designers who smoke pink lemonade crack rocks; you pretty much have to for the game to make any kind of sense at all. Damn you Konami, for luring us in to your drug addictions and making people think it's cool to debate this game for hours on end because you were not at home to Mr. Rational the whole time. Then again, the people I know who usually overanalyze this game are also proud to call themselves "otaku", and what does that tell you?
In an effort to make this less painful than it's already going to be, the game does help us out by showing the town map with handy red notations on where to go. So we see that the Alley of Doom is just off Finney St., which connects to Bachman Road. And so help me, if I hear just one more time about how "subversive" it is to use well-known and highly published horror/sci-fi writer's last names as the street names, I'm going to kick somebody square in the nuts. It's like having Legolas Avenue in MidWorld Acres subdivision, all right?
As Harry passes the "Queen Burger" at the corner of Matheson Street and Bachman Road, I realize with sadness that I have been going the wrong damned way. But, I got some totally kickin' and not at all gross health drinks and some ammo out of the deal, so I'm not going to complain too loudly. Gritting my teeth, and cursing 1999 as the year of rotate-forward, I get Harry turned back around again and against my better judgment, we head towards the alley, listening for the sound of the radio all the while. That's the only clue that a man-thing is coming at you, so that makes this little jaunt a bit less routine. And reading that sentence back, I realize this game is more wrong that I ever dreamed, if it can make me write "man-thing coming at you" with a straight face.
Midway down the Alley of Doom, Harry catches sight of a dog. The poor thing looks as though it hasn't eaten for a few days. Does Harry have a milk bone for the good doggie? Well, no. But he does have these handy lead slug things and a high-velocity dispenser to hand. After firing a few shots at this canine harbinger of the damned, our furry friend leaps up into the air and bites Harry on the head. Hey, you asked for it, pal. However, the radio static is crackling like crazy, so this must be a bad doggie. Harry squeezes off a few more rounds, and the dog falls to the ground in a heap. Great. In order to progress in this game, I have to kill Man's Best Friend, over and over again. Fuck you, Konami. But, wait, just shooting the poor thing isn't enough. If you just shoot poor little Fido, he'll just get back up again to tear more chunks of flesh from your bones in ravenous zombie dog hunger. No, to make me feel like a complete and utter waste of a human being I have to guide Harry back over to the prone animal so he can kick it to death with his sensible Rockports. I feel so unclean right now.
Harry makes it to the end of the alley, doggie blood still clinging to his shoes. I hope you're proud of yourself, Mr. Mason. To Harry's credit, he does not go about with the attitude of many men and women I know who take pleasure in killing animals. He does not suddenly go and spend thousands of dollars on items screen-printed with different types of tree, wear a fluorescent orange trucker's cap, or start peppering his conversation with "Ya know, bow season's a-comin', and L'il Billjoejimbob ain't got him a buck yet." So, I suppose in the efforts of moving this recap along, I will stop harping on the fact that my protagonist just forcibly euthanized a formerly faithful companion animal.