With the Silent Hill series still standing strong in this industry after well over a decade since its first release on the first PlayStation, the recent titles that have come out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 didn’t’t meet the high expectations of long time fans. The release of Silent Hill: Downpour was met by mixed feelings regarding the game’s quality and it made many wonder what direction the series might be heading in the future. When Silent Hill: Homecoming and Downpour were released on current generation consoles, fans and critics couldn’t stop themselves from comparing both titles to one of scariest games in the history of the survival-horror genre, Silent Hill 2.
It may seem impossible to bring the classic greatness of Silent Hill 2, but for the new generation of gamers who missed out on the game, Konami has brought back the game that scared us way back in 2000 with the release of Silent Hill HD Collection. Also, this collection includes Silent Hill 3, another title that came close to the scary atmosphere that Silent Hill 2 delivered. Should long-time fans and newcomers alike give the HD Collection of Silent Hill another chance to prove it’s still scary 12 years later?
Let’s take a look at what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of Silent Hill: HD Collection.
As with every other HD collection that has been released recently on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, one of the improvements present is the upgraded visuals (hence the inclusion of “HD” in the title). Every texture, environment and character model has been improved and it is now less jaggy. With the re-release of Silent Hill 2 and 3, you can expect the same HD treatment that other HD games have received. The visuals look more solid — it’s a better alternative to dusting off your PS2 and playing the original copy — and anti-aliasing has been included as well. Comparing the two HD titles to their original versions, you can see vast improvements as everything within the game looks cleaner and the character models look much more detailed and crispier than on the PlayStation 2 versions.
In Silent Hill 2’s case, there are certain parts of the game where textures look the same and, since the game is over a decade old, it’s age really shows. As for Silent Hill 3, the game looks a lot nicer especially with its grainy effect still intact in-game. The environments and textures look a lot cleaner than the original versions. Between the visuals of Silent Hill 2 and 3, I would say that Silent Hill 3 made the cleaner and more impressive transition to high definition.
Two Best Survival Horror Game on One Disc
Out of all the Silent Hill games, the two that most fans reminisce about most often are the second and third game. With the HD Collection, people who missed out on these titles the first time around and long time-fans can revisit Silent Hill in its glory days.
In Silent Hill 2, you take the role of James Sutherland who receives a letter from his dead wife Mary asking him to go to Silent Hill. His search and hope to see his dead wife again will bring him into the foggy town of Silent Hill where he will face the horrors and uncover the secrets of the town. Using whatever he can find as a weapon, you must guide James in his search and hopefully the search will turn into a happy ending.
In terms of the third Silent Hill game, you will take the role of Heather, the adopted daughter of the main protagonist of the first Silent Hill on the PS One. She must uncover the secrets of her true origins and escape at the same time from the cultist that’s been hunting her since the first Silent Hill game. Those who have played the first Silent Hill will find the story of the third game more interesting, but it’s not as scary as Silent Hill 2.
Trophies and Achievements
Trophy Hunters out there looking to add another Platinum to their collection will be pleased to know that both Silent Hill HD titles have a Platinum Trophy. With the 28 possible trophies/achievements, gamers who are looking to increase their gamer score points or trophy count can do so in Silent Hill 2 and 3 HD.
New Voice Overs for Silent Hill 2
Listening to the voice-overs of the non-HD Silent Hill games, it’s hard not to say it’s bad. Long-time fans who played Silent HIll 2 on the PlayStation 2 and found the voice overs abysmal will be happy to know that Konami re-recorded the voice-overs for Silent Hill 2. Comparing the new and original voices, the new recordings have more emotion and they don’t sound bland like the originals, making the game more convincing during the cutscenes. At the beginning of the game, you have the option to choose whether you want the new or old voices, in case you want the complete classic experience.
CG Cutscenes are Low Res
While everything within Silent Hill 2 and 3 received a visual upgrade, the one aspect that they decided to leave out were CG cutscenes. During your time with Silent Hill 2, you will notice that the CG cutscenes contain the same grainy, low resolution look. Since there are not a lot of them in Silent Hill 2, you won’t be seeing much of this issue. As for Silent Hill 3, nearly every cutscene is in-game, therefore, players will not run into the same problem here.
Frame Rate Issues Still Exist
The very first time you play Silent Hill HD Collection, you will be prompted to download a patch to fix the heavy framerate issues that are present at certain parts of each game. While the patch claims that the problem was fixed, the framerate issues are still noticeable during different segments of the game, but they are less severe than before. It is worth noting that this framerate issue was found on the PS3 review copy. I am not sure if the Xbox 360 version suffers from the same problem.
Annoying Controls are Still Here
The team behind the upgraded Silent Hill games didn’t make much of an effort to change the controls, therefore, the controls are still clunky and annoying. By today’s standards, almost every game has a camera that can be controlled by the player. In both Silent Hill games, the cameras are fixed and the way the game focuses it during gameplay is irritating. It’s like the camera is focusing in front of you while you’re walking, making it impossible to see where you’re heading. This very flaw is annoying and can lead to unexpected deaths from an enemy, but I guess that’s part of the tension that comes with old-school survival-horror.
In addition to camera controls, the classic controls for using weapons are annoying as well. Instead of using R1 to aim, you will have to use the classic controls which force you to use the R2 button instead. Since we’re used to aiming with R1, players will have to deal with a learning curve as the re-adjust to the old control layout.
What this generation lacks is a definitive survival-horror game. Those who want to go back and have nightmares once again can revisit what must now be considered a masterpiece, Silent Hill HD Collection. If you’re a long-time fan of the series and have been longing to replay Silent Hill 2 and 3 on your modern console, this is your chance. If you came into the series around the time of Homecoming or Downpour, you should definitely pick this game up and see the glorious roots of the series. Troublesome controls and camera angles aside, these still stand as two of the best, if not the best, survival horror games, even by today’s standards.
[Editor’s Note: Silent Hill: HD Collection was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Silent Hill: HD Collection Review,