Sound and Survival Horror- 
                                                       Submitted by-Randi Drew

        Since the revolution of surround sound in games, we have seen a new experience in the next step of survival horror. SOUND! Ok, so I hear yah, we already have sound. :P Hear me out. Games with the induction of surround sound have given us a new platform for horror itself. Have you ever sat in the dark, watching “The Grudge” in surround sound? The slap of bare feet from behind you and the breathing, almost down your neck? Isn't it enough to give you shivers? 

  That in consideration, imagine drawing your character down a dark hallway, with only a flashlight to explore your terrain, and you hear something crawling close in your direction to the left. Sound can mean the difference between life and death here, am I right? Could you imagine, that not listening could cost your player his or her life respectively? So sound itself has become another means of keeping yourself alive and of course texture in survival horror. Because let's face it, on planet survival horror, what you won't see will often come after you with it's rape face. Recently, we have seen several games emerge into surround sound. Let's name some prominent ones here, so if you haven't already tried these with the lights off, you have a decent list to start out with!

     Dead Space- This game is great for surround sound! I played it on my PC with surround sound head phones (yeah they do make 'em, Sony makes them). I thought at some point I was going nuts because at times you could hear whispering all around you! It was almost in your brain! :O

      Silent Hill – 2 and 5 have great use of sound, especially 5, because not only do you use sound but monsters will use it to track you. Especially, if you knock stuff around and clatter, THEY WILL FIND YOU! The overall soundtrack to the game is impressive in itself too. It has layers of sound and music, also, often times you can avoid a fight just by turning off your light and shutting the fuck up! 

 Siren – * shudders * The things in this game are very smart and will actively hunt you (and way more aggressively than Silent Hill's monsters). The are also attracted to light and sound, but with a twist, they will also call you out and talk shit to you. It is creepy as hell, and you often only hear them, not see them. Once they spot you in this game you are very screwed, so relying on sound and sight-jacking is very much the key, as is stealth to your survival! This game is in surround sound!!!!!!

      Bioshock- You make noise, the mutants/splicers make noise. Gotta say, they aren't as smart as SH, or Siren monsters but, they too respond to sound and make a hell of a lot of noise! F.E.A.R- Alma... she is scary. You can generally tip off the shit in your area by being a lummox here like the above, also, sometimes you get a tip off at where someone will be on the same principal. 

 Condemned- This game made me jump a lot, and I didn't play it alone. You hunt serial killers in it and they hunt you. Other things also hunt you. Sound plays a role a lot like the ones above, tipping people off, but also throwing things to attract an enemy. The first one, in my opinion is the better of the two.

   Fatal Frame- You rely almost SOLEY on sound. So that being said, you have to take a picture of the area that the ghost is in to see it or capture it. You rely on hearing that freaky noise to the right of you to take that picture and stay alive!

       Sound has become another means of expression in the genre, providing a richly made back drop for in game play. It is far more possible to become immersed in your environment now than ever, and while graphics take up a lot of that, we would be nowhere near a decent scare factor without sound. While I am not suggesting that you run out and buy a system featuring Dolby 6.1 or Discrete Audio, I am saying that an upgrade to that, or maybe even utilizing Dolby on your current system is well worth it. These games can only get better and better for experience with the technology. Can you image what it will be like when games start using more of the new 3-D technology for console gaming? Will it be possible in the future to even have smells? (Which might be great for Cooking Mama, but lousy for dieting and Horror in general.) As we continue to see games evolve, how real will be too real? What will we keep in the genre and toss out? This is definitely something to keep an eye on. 

                    Meanwhile, pop in a game and keep your ears open, you may live longer! ;)