E3 2004: Silent Hill 4: The Room Hands-On

Konami quashes that safe, secure feeling you had by throwing you back into the dark, frightening world of Silent Hill.

Update: Video coverage added.

Admittedly, before playing Silent Hill 4: The Room, I had played a Silent Hill game and liked it. I've played them all and always found their pacing to be too slow and the gameplay too boring. However, after spending some time with Silent Hill 4 I must admit my feelings are starting to change as I found it more enjoyable than its predecessors.

Available in playable form for the Xbox and PS2 platforms, the latest chapter of Silent Hill puts players in the role of Henry Townshend, a man residing in a cursed apartment in the town of South Ashfield, a place located just a few short miles away from Silent Hill.

After awakening from a nightmare, Henry discovers that he's trapped in his apartment and can't leave because his door was mysteriously chained and boarded shut. As weird sounds are heard coming from the bathroom, he investigates it only to discover a strange tunnel in the center of his bathroom wall, a tunnel serving as a portal to an alternate world of darkness. With no other way out of the apartment, Henry has no choice but to enter the mysterious tunnel to see where it takes him, thus thrusting him into a whole new nightmare where he will encounter unspeakable horrors.

It certainly looks to be the most interesting Silent Hill game yet. The gameplay offers two viewing perspectives. The camera switches to an all new first-person viewing mode whenever you're in Henry's apartment, and back to a thirdperson viewpoint whenever exploring the bizarre alternate worlds that Henry finds himself in after entering the tunnels. These visual transitions are actually handled well thanks to a workable camera system, that could still use a little tweaking, but never gets in the way.

With the gameplay players will need to explore a variety of creepy environments, collect important items and solve a series of puzzles in order to uncover clues that will help unravel the mysteries behind Henry's entrapment.

Unlike in previous Silent Hill games where it seemed to take a while before the action picked up, Silent Hill 4 kicked off the action early on, providing players with a chance to test out their gun shooting and stick swinging moves against some creepy cretins. I particularly enjoyed Henry's ability to stomp on the necks of his fallen foes, crushing the life out of them with his heels.

Graphically Silent Hill 4 looks solid so far. In the E3 build we played through some wrecked playground and creepy forest type settings that led to and from his apartment. The demo we played through only had a few playable levels available, all of which seemed to be shaping up nicely - but bizarrely, weren't at a level that I'd consider as impressive as Silent Hill 2. However, that can change with the final version so stay tuned.

Silent Hill 4 ships in September. Be very afraid.

Joseph Jackson
Staff Writer, Kikizo.com

Video Coverage
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Silent Hill 4
E3 2004: Direct feed trailer - still too viral (640x480, 1Mbps)
0.44m 5.54 MB WMV

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