Current-Gen. Consoles

PlayStation 2
GameBoy Advance

Past-Gen. Consoles

Nintendo 64
Virtual Boy
Super NES
GameBoy/GB Color

Top 11
Editor's Page
Contact Info

reviews >> playstation 2
Silent Hill 3

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Konami
Developer: KCET
Year Released: 2003
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Mature

Visuals 9.5
For one thing, the art style of this game is unmatched. It's all gritty, dirty and even disgusting. The character models are excellent with a lot of life-like detail that a lot of developers really need to pay attention to. This is how people should look like in videogames. Overall, from the lighting to the effects to the character models and sets, this is one of the best looking games on the system. Only a few blurry textures and spots of alaiasing remind you it's a PS2 game.
Audio 9.5
Still disturbing as ever. Most of the backround music is always unsettling, and the screams and sounds from the enemeis and creatures can be a bit jarring. The voice acting is pretty good, and has a style almost it's own. Why Konami still hasn't embraced Dolby Surround for it's franchise is unknown to me.
Gameplay 8.5
It basically plays like Silent Hill 2, which means if you didn't mind the controls, you'll be fine. The story takes some time to actually get flowing, though.
Replay Value 8
It's the shortest game in the franchsie, and a first run-through will take about 7-8 hours. Luckily, there's a lot more special features that open up after completion.
Reviewer's Impression 8.75
It took me awhile to warm up to this game. The pace of the story took a bit slower to progress than previous games in the series. Once the gears actually do start going is when I wanted to become more involved in the game.
Overall 9
I guess I was a bit wrong in doubting a third entry into the franchise. I hadn't predicted how the story of the main character would develop, and once I did find out, I then realized that the first game in the series left a lot of questions in the air at the end. It's a good game to play through for newcomers, but offers a lot more for those who had played through the first game.

When I originally heard that ANOTHER Silent Hill game was going to be developed back in 2002, I was excited, but also a bit apprehensive. On the one hand, I would be given another installment to a series I've grown to like. On the other hand, I felt like enough was done storywise about this town. I kind of felt that this series would end up getting into the same trap as the Resident Evil series, where it's the same story and setting, but different monsters and puzzles. So now after it's released, is there enough in Silent Hill 3 to make it worth playing through, plotwise as well as gameplay-wise?

The answer is "yes", especially if you have followed the series and the story from the first installment. There are many details and pieces in this game that actually do tie directly within the events of the first Silent Hill. But it takes time to build up that momentum, where you finally get that "Oh, I finally see where this is going" kind of moment. That's one of the things that kind of put me off on Silent Hill 3 was that it took so long to get the point out of where the story was going.

The first two games establishes what the main character is set out to do, as well as a bit of a background where they come from. We knew at the beginning of the first game that the main character, Harry Mason, was on a search for his daughter after a car accident. We also knew that he was a writer and was a widdower. In the beginning of the second game, we knew the goal and background of James Sunderland. In that game, he comes to the town of Silent Hill after recieving a letter from his wife teling him to meet at a "special place". Of course, his wife was dead for three years.

In Silent Hill 3, we are given scarce, if any details about the main character, Heather. All we really know is that she is 17 years old, at a mall, and a couple of people have some strange interest in her. But we're never given any background about her past, who she is, why these people are taking interest in her and so on. It isn't until about an hour and a half to two hours (depending on your speed) into the game until the mystery behind Heather was unraveled. In the first two games, the main characters each had an agenda off the bat that wanted you to become involved. Here, it took a little too long to make that connection. I felt like all I was doing was trying to get out of one place, and from another. But once the pieces of Heather's past start to come together is when things start to get interesting, and even bizarre.

About halfway through the game, something critical happens that really merge the first game and the thrid installment together. Then the people who had a mysterious interest in you start to become obsessive. The further along you go in your journey, the deeper into the extremes of religious obsession you will find that this town really has. You'll also find out that there was a lot of unfinished business from the first game. I'm really not going to divluge any more detail about the plot, because it would give a lot away in the game. I think the one thing you want to keep in mind, though is that it does take some time for the gears of the story to get going.

Okay, straying away from the details and background of the story of the series, let's actually get into the game itself, more specifically, how it plays. If you've played the first two Silent Hill games, you pretty much feel at home with the controls in Silent Hill 3. In fact, the scheme is pretty much similar to Silent Hill 2's. But for those who have never played an SH game may need to get used to the controls if they want to enjoy the game. While the character is not as hard to control as the characters in the Resident Evil franchise, it's not as smooth as say, Eternal Darkness. You kind of need to work with the camera to get where you're going. It's far from impossible to play, but they aren't as responsive as they could be.

The difficulty level is a bit off-balance. When I first started playing SH3, I opted for the normal enemy difficulty (as well as normal puzzle difficulty). I kind of found the normal enemy setting to be a bit difficult. Enemies took way too many hits to kill, Heather took quite a bit of damage quite often, and the pickups seemed to be far and between. After about an hour of this, I decided to just start over again on easy enemy difficulty. Here, the enemies still seem a bit aggressive, but Heather could take more hits, and pickups were everywhere. It seemed a bit too easy. As far as the puzzles go, they are still as tough and obscure as ever, although there are some that are kind of easy to figure out. The tougher puzzles come more of the weird items you pick up and need to used, either to open doors or get an object.

The visuals are still disgustingly brilliant as every. If you've played previous Silent Hill games, the design and disturbing nature of the games visual style can pretty much be predictiable here. You will see a lot of dirty, bloody, abstact and just plain gross environents. There are a lot of dirsturbing creature models to come across. There are a lot of special effects such as noise filters, fog, and even animated walls (some bleed, will have moving pus and so on). Even though it's what you come to expect, it's still a bit suprising to see what these developers come up with. I think the most impressive visual aspect of the game has to be the character models. Konami really knows how to create realistic looking people in a videogame. I've seen some games have realistic tones, and yet have unrealistic-looking people. Not here. Every main character is fully detailed. Heather herself has visible freckles, dirt up her arms, and some redness around her eyelids as if she had been crying her eyes out. Every main character has that level of detail, and their facial expressions and animations are unlike those you have seen in other games. The characters look and behave like real people in this game, and that's something that has always been done in this series. And before I forget, I do have to mention the lighting. It plays an important part in the overall look of the game as Heather will almost always have her flashlight on. The way that the light properly illuminates objects and cast appropriate shadows is pretty damn good. Even though the PS2 is known for being capable of some of the crappiest textures around, a lot has been pulled off in this game, and it does prove that there are some really good looking PS2 games out there.

Now we get to the audio. Again, like the visual style of the game, if you've played past Silent Hill games, you will know what to expect. You've got the eerie ambient music and sounds throughout the game, mysterious sound effects, creepy enemy sounds and voices and the occasional scream/slam that scares the crap out of you. The voice acting is not bad, but seemingly a bit overdramatic. After playing this game, it's safe to say that there is a similar tone in acting throughout the entire Silent Hill series. There's always moments when a character will over emphasize what they will do or what will come. I think those who have played the games in the series will know what I'm talking about. Overall, the sound is great, but is still strange that Konami still hasn't opted for Dolby Surround for a Silent Hill game.

Final Thought

The question here is wether or not Silent Hill 3 is worth playing, especially if you're a bit of a devout follower of the series like myself. You kind of wonder if three games is the sign of a series losing steam. You question wether or not there's enough material to actually warrant a third game. The answer is yes, there is a reason to play Silent Hill 3. While you do go through some of the same places as previous SH games, there are plot points in this game that tie directly into the events following the first game. If you kind of wondered what happened after the first Silent Hill, you will have answers in Silent Hill 3. But like I've said earlier, this one takes a bit longer to tell you where the story is going and why the main character is even there. Once you get to that point, all is revealed, and everything you thought you knew, is once again, wrong.