For the first time ever, Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 have come to the Xbox 360 and the PS3 to teach gamers the true meaning of fear. Boasting newly improved graphics and voice acting, Silent Hill: HD Collection brings fans—new and old—survival horror at its finest!
Silent Hill 2 is set 10 years after the first game and follows James Sunderland. Widowed three years prior, James receives a letter from his dearly departed wife, calling him to meet in their “special place” in the town of Silent Hill. He’s apprehensive but curious—after all, the whole town was their special place. He obediently follows his wife’s instructions and travels to Silent Hill. Little does he know, he’s about to step into a world inspired by his worst nightmares.
Silent Hill 3 is a direct sequel to the first game and follows Heather Mason, the first female protagonist in the franchise. As a 17-year-old, Heather dreams of a town shrouded in mist and inhabited by demonic creatures that are out for her blood. As events unfold and Heather is targeted by a relentless cult, she learns that the town called Silent Hill has important information about her past, and of a life she no longer remembers.
Before Your Visit
Right after loading the game into your system of choice, you’re given the option to play Silent Hill 2 (symbolized by Red Pyramid) or Silent Hill 3 (Missionary). A tough decision, but once the pop quiz is over you’re taken to the game’s main menu where you can mess with the options, start a new game, or continue a save file.
Graphics and Sound: New and Improved?
The first thing I noticed during the initial cut scene was how smooth everything looked. The introductory sequence was noticeably enhanced from its PS2 original, leaving me to believe that the rest of the game would be a feast for the eyes. Sure enough, the colors were richer and smoother than in the original. Though still not up to Xbox 360 standards, it was a refreshing change.
But, it seemed to head downhill where the brightness level was concerned. Even after acquiring the trusty flashlight, interior areas were far too dark to see. At first, I chalked it up to be part of the survival horror experience but after passing over clues and items multiple times, I resolved to turn the brightness up. But, even at its highest level, some areas were still dark and left me to repeatedly press the “examine” button just to be sure I didn’t pass anything by.
On a brighter note, the voices in both games were completely redubbed. Not only that, but the music and ambient noise for Silent Hill 3 were given an upgrade as well. All music was either completely rewritten or tweaked to add more to the game’s atmosphere and really wrap the player up in the Silent Hill world.
Silent Hill 2 gives players the option of using the original voice-overs instead of the new ones. This option pops up every time the game is loaded so players can switch back and forth if they so choose, with no effect on their game save.
Gameplay: Are you 2D or 3D?
Another choice to be made is whether 2D or 3D controls suit your needs better. The game starts off with 3D as the default, but personally I always found them to be a bit too confusing, so I switched over to 2D. The main issue of 2D controls would be the awkward angles that the camera finds itself in, but this is not unlike many other games on the market and is easily rectified by holding the “look” button on the controller until you find a comfortable position and can continue onward.
Combat in Silent Hill 2 can be fast paced or intense depending on the game’s difficulty. On the easiest setting, a single swing with a pipe can down most enemies. At the hardest, it can take multiple shots from a firearm. Ammo is few and far between and should be conserved for dire situations. It does not respawn and once you’ve used it all, your guns remain empty for the remainder of the game, leaving you to rely on melee attacks when it comes down to boss fights, which is not as fun as it sounds.
Silent Hill 3 brings the option of blocking attacks into the game, as well as a supply of weapons (some on the more humorous side) that can be unlocked after completing your first playthrough.
Puzzles play a huge role in every Silent Hill game. Whether it’s a riddle written on the wall or a locked door that needs an illusive (and at times, unorthodox) key, it’s impossible to get anywhere in the town without solving some sort of puzzle. These are clever and mind-bending problems that really cause the player to sit down for a few moments and just think about what the solution could possibly be. Sometimes items need to be combined with each other and it can take some time to figure out what combinations actually make sense for the situation.
There are 6 possible endings to Silent Hill 2 (3 that can be achieved during the first playthrough and 3 that can only be unlocked during a replay), whereas Silent Hill 3 has only 3 endings (only one can be achieved during the first playthrough).
In Silent Hill 2, the ending you receive is based on your actions during the game. When you heal yourself, how well you take care of your NPC companion, and how often you examine certain items can all have an effect on the outcome of your playthrough. Silent Hill 3, on the other hand, focuses on a point-based system. Points are awarded for killing monsters, taking damage, and what (if anything) is said to a confessing sinner.
There was a lot of potential in the reworking of these titles—a potential that I feel Konami didn’t quite reach, but put up a valiant effort. Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 are two of the best installments in the franchise and I consider the Silent Hill: HD Collection to be worth buying. Bringing classics like this to newer systems will invite a new generation of the Silent Hill fanbase to see where it all began, as well as letting old fans replay the games that introduced them to Silent Hill’s twisted (yet enthralling) world.