Doesn't Capture the Same Feel
Ever since the first Silent Hill game debuted on the PS1, gamers and horror fanatics alike have been mesmerized by the characters and the world that Silent Hill has to offer. This new installment in the extremely popular horror franchise was brought to you by the same developers that made the first one, Konami. Konami did a tremendous job with the first game and took the series to greater lengths when Silent Hill 2 debuted on the PS2. Silent Hill 3 is another solid game, but I’m just not feeling this one like the other
At the start of the game, you are spit out into a creepy dream sequence at Lakeside Amusement Park. Anyone who has played a Silent Hill game should notice that the eerie soundtrack and ungodly amounts of blood and gore are still present. Fans of the series should also be familiar with the same tank controls that you have with your character, and controls remain largely the same. Even if you are a newcomer to the series, grappling with the strange character movement shouldn’t be an issue and you’ll be able to run around like a pro in no time.
The amusement park scene is incredibly short, and your character, Heather, will wake up inside a mall coffee shop. You’ll soon meet the whole entire cast of characters which include Detective Douglass Cartland, Claudia Wolf, and Vincent. Surprisingly, these are the only main characters that you’ll come into contact with throughout the rest of the game. However, this doesn’t take away anything from the story at all. Silent Hill fans especially will be pleased with the story line which ties up a lot of loose ends from the first game. In fact, story may be the largest draw for any gamer.
Probably the biggest letdown about this game is that barely any of it takes place in the town, Silent Hill. The best parts about the previous two games were exploring the creepy nooks and crannies of the map, discovering nasty monsters, and meeting mentally ill residents. Silent Hill 3 offers none of these things. A better portion of the game is spent in Heather’s hometown which includes the shopping mall, the subway station, the underground sewers, and the office building. After fighting your way through all of these areas, you finally get a taste of Silent Hill.
Your time spent in Silent Hill is very short as well. A hospital segment was thrown into the mix, and after that you’ll visit Lakeside Amusement Park briefly before going to the church. There is barely any exploring in the town itself. If you have a Silent Hill 2 save game on your memory card, you may be able to recognize a few throwaway easter eggs, and you can go into a couple of buildings, but the exploration pretty much grinds to a halt from there. Anyone who didn’t take enough time would be ushered around to each location without experiencing anything of the town itself.
With those things aside though, I believe that Silent Hill 3 is a very solid experience. The story is phenomenal and will be a great treat to anyone who has played the first Silent Hill game. The graphical update is also immense. The visuals in this game are absolutely stunning and they definitely take full advantage of the PS2’s capabilities. The dirty rooms and rusty Otherworld look great and are certainly better looking than the other two games.
The horror element has been retained as well. Although barely anything takes place in Silent Hill, the other locations are full of creepy monsters and cryptic notes. While the combat is somewhat a meaningless experience, the puzzles in the game haven’t lost any luster. Before starting a new game, you will be asked to select a difficulty for both combat and puzzle difficulty. Each of the puzzle difficulties will provide you with a different type of puzzle. The difference between the difficulties is highly noticeable and most puzzles will become brutally impossible at the hardest difficulty level. Anybody who wants a real stumper will probably be fine with the highest difficulty, but Konami didn’t mess around when they created these puzzles. Some of them require knowledge of chemistry and even Shakespeare.
Combat is brought back to the series in the same way it’s been done every time. Even the controls are exactly the same. There are a variety of weapons and ammo that can be found lying around the different areas including a katana. It is crucial to explore all of the rooms and find every item you can because it all counts when it comes to bringing down bosses. Ammo is pretty scarce, but the game will recognize when you’re low on ammunition and will place more boxes accordingly. It’s true that combat has never been a strong point of the series, but perhaps the new Silent Hill: Shattered Memories will be able to fix this issue with its lack of any combat at all.
Even though the absence of play time in the town of Silent Hill is somewhat of a bummer, Silent Hill 3 is still a great addition to the series. The deep, immersive locations are terrifying and gruesome. The puzzle element is also better than ever in this sequel. The graphics are a huge update compared to the other games and for a first timer in the Silent Hill world, the small amount of time spent in Silent Hill won’t be much of a problem. Any Silent Hill or survival horror fan should definitely pick this up, especially since you can find it for $20 at a local Gamestop.