Scare season Video games put players inside slasher flicks
By Ric Manningricman@courier-journal.com SCENE Gizmo Editor
It's the time of the year when kids and adults line up to visit haunted houses and watch slasher movies and pay good money to get scared out of their wits.
There are plenty of Stephen King novels at the bookstores and John Carpenter films at the video stores. But some of today's most-frightening stories are played out on computer and video games.
If Halloween weekend is putting you in the mood for a good fright, then turn off the lights, turn up the sound and boot up one of these games. 'Silent Hill 2'
PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, from Konami.
There are four versions of the "Silent Hill" series, and each one challenges you to stay alive as you roam through a creepy, horrific environment while you solve puzzles and try to avoid becoming a snack for some gargoyle.
The most-recent versions cast you as a young girl in a deserted shopping mall ("SH3") or as young man trapped in his room ("SH4"). But many fans of the series say the first versions are still the best.
In "Silent Hill 2," you play a man who has been called back to the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his wife, who happens to have died three years ago. The town, of course, is shrouded in a dense fog and appears to have been abandoned, at least by normal human beings. In their place are mutant creatures and an occasional zombie who needs a good whack in the head. 'Clock Tower 3'
PlayStation 2, from Capcom.
The "Clock Tower" games are a lot like the old teen slasher movies where the star has to defeat a crazed killer using only household items. In this version, a girl named Alyssa finds her home deserted. She soon becomes the target of a series of killers who chase her through supernatural dimensions.
To find the leader of the killers, Alyssa must outwit and defeat a series of nasty characters, including one who uses sledgehammers on his victims and a ballerina who likes to slice up people when she executes a twirl. The environments include a concert hall, a maze of sewers and a graveyard, all well-drawn and suitably creepy. And the game's soundtrack is just as scary as its visuals. 'F.E.A.R.'
PC, from Vivendi Universal.
The best first-person shooters, like "Doom" and "Half-Life," can jump-start your adrenalin pump even though you're in control of the situation. You're well-armed with high-tech weapons and you know there's a baddie waiting for you behind the next closed door. But you still jump out of your skin when he attacks.
"F.E.A.R." presents a familiar story line -- you're part of an elite military crew sent to investigate a paranormal situation. What you find is a crazed commander in charge of an army of clone soldiers.
The game uses the same technology as "Half-Life" and "Doom," so it has the same fluid animation and realistic graphics that put you in the middle of a big-budget action movie. 'Resident Evil 4'
Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2, from Capcom.
This game has all the elements you'd want for a great scarefest. You start out in a mountain forest on a cloudy day. As night falls and a storm moves in, you stumble onto a town full of dilapidated buildings. There's an old church on a hill that you have to explore, and, yes, the church has a graveyard.
Sure enough, the town turns out to be populated by people who are not likely to invite you in for ham hocks. While they're not exactly zombies, they're not exactly right, either. The game plays out over a large and impressive environment that includes a castle, an old factory and even a ski lift.