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
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.
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.