The Silent Hill HD Collection
may not seem like much of a collection to many as it only contains Silent Hill 2
and Silent Hill 3
, but the titles it does include are possibly two of the best loved Silent Hill
titles to date. The absence of the original Silent Hill
also seems strange, and with Silent Hill 3
being a direct sequel, the many references to the game may be confusing to people new to the series. Silent Hill 2
Originally released in 2001, Silent Hill 2
follows the story of James Sunderland who has travelled to the town of Silent Hill after receiving a mysterious letter from his wife, Mary, despite the fact that she had died from an illness three years prior. In the letter, Mary has asked James to meet her at their ‘special place’ though James is confused by this as he believes the entire town was special to them. On arrival in Silent Hill, James discovers that it isn’t the beautiful town he remembers. The streets are veiled in a thick fog and appear to be abandoned apart from the strange monsters that now inhabit the town. Sometime into his journey, James meets a woman named Maria, who has a very strong resemblance to his deceased wife and may also hold the key to understanding the truth behind his wife’s death.
Apart from the main campaign, Silent Hill 2
also includes the Born From A Wish
sub-scenario that was originally released as part of the Xbox port Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams
, where the player now controls Maria in the events before James arrives in Silent Hill.Silent Hill 3
Originally released in 2003, Silent Hill 3
is a direct sequel to the original Silent Hill
and takes place seventeen years later. The game centres on Heather Mason, the adoptive daughter of Harry Mason, the protagonist from Silent Hill
. The game begins with Heather walking around Silent Hill’s nightmarish Amusement Park and must fight her way to the rollercoaster. This section happens to be a dream sequence and in many ways acts as a tutorial. If the player dies during this part the story continues as Heather wakes up from her nightmare. After awakening in the mall and calling her father to let him know she is on her way home, Heather encounters Douglas Cartland who tells her that he has information about her birth, believing that the man is a stalker, Heather attempts to avoid him by escaping out of the ladies bathroom window. Unfortunately for her, the alley she finds herself in is blocked and she must now find another way out, but discovers that the mall is now inhabited by strange creatures. Eventually she encounters Claudia Wolf, a woman dressed in all black and a member of a strange cult; she explains to Heather that she is needed to bring about a new paradise. Shortly after Heather finds herself in the Otherworld version of the mall and must continue to find a way out. Her story eventually takes her back to silent Hill where she must uncover the secrets of her birth as well as the part she plays in the future of the town.
As you would expect from a HD re-release, the gameplay of both titles hasn’t changed since their original releases on the PlayStation 2. The Silent Hill
series is a survival horror where the player must fend off or avoid a plethora of different creatures while exploring a variety of detailed and often disturbing environments. Combat comes in the form of both melee and ranged, with each having a range of different weapons available. Melee weapons range from knives and pipes that are easy to wield but won’t do much damage to much more powerful weapons like Pyramid Head’s Great Knife in Silent Hill 2
and the Katana in Silent Hill 3
. Melee weapons don’t deteriorate with use either and so are very useful if you’re low on ammunition. Ranged weapons vary from the handgun to the shotgun, with the added option of an SMG in Silent Hill 3
. Using ranged weapons is useful for keeping enemies at a distance and so are great at higher difficulties, though with the added difficulty, ammunition becomes increasingly sparse and so managing your supplies is of the utmost importance.
As with many games of the genre, in-depth puzzles and riddles are a large part of the game, though unlike other games of its type, Silent Hill feature two difficulty setting, one which dictates the strength of enemies and how numerous survival items are and a second that determines the complexity of the puzzles. On the easiest of the puzzle difficulties, the riddles are notably more simple and do not require as much thought to complete, players shouldn’t find any of the puzzles very taxing and certain puzzles that appear in harder difficulties are not present at all. On the Hard difficulty setting however, many of the tasks require you to decipher cryptic clues in order to understand what is required of you and on many occasions require a lot of knowledge of subjects outside of the games. Attempting either games on the hard riddle difficulty isn’t recommended for anyone new to the series and it may be worthwhile playing through on an easier difficulty first to get used to the environments and the types of puzzles that are to be faced. While the difficulty might turn many people away, the Silent Hill
series is praised for its interesting challenges and figuring out many of the puzzles on the higher difficulties is certainly a very satisfying achievement in itself.
While the puzzle elements of the series are timeless, the camera angles certainly aren’t and may prove to be quite a challenge to overcome. In many situations, normally when exiting a door, the camera will be directed at the player making it very difficult to orientate your character and to locate enemies. While this may add to the atmosphere it can become very annoying and on many occasions you may find yourself going back on yourself.
Both Silent Hill 2
and Silent Hill 3
give you the choice of two main control schemes, 2D and 3D. The default 3D control scheme works very much like the classic Resident Evil style controls, in which pushing forward on the analogue stick makes the character walk forward in the direction they are facing. The 2D scheme on the other hand feels more natural and allows you to move the character in whichever direction you push the stick, it is much easier to move around with 2D controls but you can’t sidestep or walk backwards while shooting which limits your choices in combat. In the past I had used the 3D controls, but recent games have pampered me to the point that the quicker 2D scheme now wins me over, though I would suggest to anyone to try both and discover what works best for them.Graphics
Graphically the Silent Hill HD Collection
won’t win any awards for outstanding visuals, but the update has brought them back up to a standard that isn’t at all displeasing. Silent Hill 2
has suffered slightly in the move to HD and most noticeably is the density of the fog, which now seems somewhat lighter. While this has no real significance during gameplay, it does become apparent during various cut-scenes where the thinner fog reveals more of the scenery which in many cases is of a much lower quality or unfinished. Silent Hill 3
fares better, but bearing in mind that the game was originally released a few years later, once the team had more experience, there was always going to be an improvement here.SoundSilent Hill 2
now offers a choice between the original and new voice cast, while Silent Hill 3
only allows for the new voice cast. The new voice work is a definite improvement with higher audio quality and better direction, though there are now some very noticeable problems with the lip-synching in some parts. Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack remains untouched and proves to be one of the greatest and most powerful soundtracks of any game to date; it still manages to instil true fear and anxiety during even the most insignificant of encounters.Achievements
There is a decent variety of achievements to be earned during your travels, though be warned that it may not be for the faint of heart. There are story progression achievements and achievements that depend on how quickly players defeat bosses which isn’t too bad. The trouble starts when you see that there is an achievement for each of the endings, which across both titles is a total of nine. On top of these there are also achievements for unlocking secret items, which are normally found on a later playthrough or by defeating bosses in specific ways. Completionists will require multiple playthroughs in order to unlock every achievement and will need to spend a lot of time in the foggy little town, especially as the Extra Riddle difficulty needed for Silent Hill 2
’s I.Q Test achievement is only available once the game has been completed on all three of the other Riddle difficulties.Summary
The gameplay hasn’t changed at all since the games were originally released. There is a little improvement over the original graphics and the new voice overs are a nice touch, but it does feel like these are simply ports at times. Though despite their flaws, both titles are still terrifying, even to veterans and the music is as powerful today as it was 10 years ago. For fans of the genre who may have never ventured into Silent Hill before, the HD Collection is a great chance to catch up, offering two of the best titles the horror genre has ever seen. For old fans wanting to relive the fear, Silent Hill HD
delivers in bucket loads.
This collection is also great value for money, delivering two full-length retail releases. Both campaigns will take players approximately five to six hours each to complete with both the action and riddle difficulties set to normal, but with all of the additional endings to unlock as well, there is plenty of replay value in both titles. If you intend to go for all of the achievements, be ready to spend a lot more time in Silent Hill than you may have originally bargained for.
Now we've reviewed Silent Hill: Downpour
and the HD collection, how would you like to own both copies?
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