Review by LedFanatic4
Short Yet Sweet
In Silent Hill 3, you play as Heather, a typical teenage girl who is sitting in a chair at the local burger restaurant in the mall. When sitting down, she falls asleep and is drawn into a dream. In this dream, and also the intro to the game and its mechanics, you are stuck in an amusement park; however this isn't any ordinary amusement park. It seems that it is located in hell, with you being all alone with strange creatures that try to kill you. Once you awaken from the nightmare, you go to the nearby phone to call your father telling him you are returning home. On your way out of the mall, you encounter a detective named Douglas who wants to discuss your childhood with you, but Heather, with her sharp attitude, just wants to get home to her father. Since Douglas consistently follows her, she decides to run into the girls bathroom in an attempt to escape the dective, yet this leads to even more horrors than Heather expects.
I wasn't expecting Silent Hill 3 to be this great of a game. When I got my PS2 a couple weeks ago (7/23/06) I decided to get the greatest variation of games simply because I enjoy variety. I only bought Silent Hill 3 because it was horror game, not because I read the reviews or heard it was great.
This game is best enjoyed at night, with the lights turned off, and the sound turned up a reasonable amount. Also, you should be alone, as it increases the fear of the environment and enemies which inhabit it. For those who are faint and feel sick easily, you should keep the lights on and play during the day, as the scares are sick, disturbing, and will stay ingrained in your mind for a while.
The graphics in this game are absolutely stunning. It clearly brings the most out of the PS2 in terms of graphical power, as it is the best looking game on the system. The hellish environments are brought out nicely, and the blood and gore is as disgusting and extremely realistic as it should be. The rust on the walls and blood on the floors is prominent in the hellish side of some areas of the game which adds to the freaky environment that Konami is striving for. The grotesque imagery adds to the psychological thrills that make the game so interesting. The areas which you explore are greatly varied, and keep you interested if the gameplay doesnt. When things turn from normal to hell, the change is prominent through grates in the floor, and fulfills the depiction of hell most people imagine (well for me at least). The environments are dark, which is why the flashlight will be extremely useful throughout the game. Enemy designs are somewhat interesting, yet I wish there was more variety in the types of enemies and the number of different ones. I believe there are only 6 different enemies in the game aside from bosses, so that may disappoint some gamers. However, the enemies are very disgusting and bizarre. The enemy movement isn't exactly smooth, which to me adds to the creepiness. The cutscenes have very nice graphics, but the mouth movements are....awkward, just not right. Heather's expression is brought out nicely, meaning you could clearly see the fear through her facial expression alone. The most amazing part of the graphics is that between the cutscenes and the in-game engine, you can't even notice the change in graphics.
The gameplay is spectacular. The fighting system is very impressive, especially for a horror game (since most others are lacking). You are actually capable of blocking against some enemy attacks, which isn't very common in the horror genre. You are offered an array of different weapons, however there aren't that many. You get (I believe) 6 different weapons in your first playthrough, and are offered 3 new ones in your next run depending on how you beat the game. In Silent Hill, you be armed with a knife to begin with, however it is extremely useless and too weak to really deal any damage. When you see your first enemy you find a gun on the floor, and you pick it up for use in the first half of the mall. The gun is extremely useless, because for the most part you should dodge most enemies in the game. The steel pipe will be used for the majority of the game, until you receieve the katana. Guns are useless because you won't be able to see most enemies until you turn the corner anyways. Unlike in Silent Hill 1 and 2, in Silent Hill 3, the ammo is more scarce which forces you to use your melee weapons, or even dodge the enemies. This adds to the excitement involved in the gameplay as well as the challenge. You are offered different modes when you first begin the game, which are Easy, Normal, and Hard. Easy means that enemies are weak and slow, normal upps the challenge a little in those categories, and hard is the true game. Enemies are quick, notice you easily, and powerful. I suggest you begin on easy, as the game alone is fairly difficult on this setting (especially for your first playthrough).
One of the minor issues with Silent Hill 3, and most other horror games is control. Heather walks like a tank (just like Jill in RE) but you do have the ability of a quicker turn through pressing the R1 and L1 buttons simultaneously. The camera angle could get on your nerves at times, but it is somewhat adjustable through pressing and holding R2. If you really want to, you could zoom in for better exploration through holding R2 (using the right analog stick for adjustment) and pressing L3. In one part of the game, you are found running as fast as you can through narrow corridors, and the camera angles could hinder your movement, and you might die, so be aware. The slow character movement is annoying at some times, yet, it also adds to the excitement in the game because you're rushing to get out of trouble. Heather's fighting style is evolved from the style of other horror games, as well as the previous Silent Hill games.
Sound is extremely important in the survival horror genre, and Silent Hill brings the most out of it. It draws the gamer into the environment and increases the realism. Silent Hill 3 has literally chilling sounds which gave even me goosebumps. The sounds are frightening at most times, especially the sound of the enemy's movements. When hitting an enemy with a melee weapon, the crunches are disgusting and make you queasy at times. Changes from the normal world to hell are also displayed not only graphically, but also through the sounds. The sound track has a good variation of music, and I even downloaded some of the songs onto my Ipod, which is quite impressive alone. Voice acting also sounds great, and realistic, unlike most other games that have the voices tweaked somewhat.
Overall this game is amazing, yet there are pros and cons you should be aware of, such as :
-literally scares the hell out of you (could be good or bad)
-lots of challenging puzzles that would make you think
-sounds are realistic and creepy
-lots of incentive to play again
-the environment and story draws you in and making it somewhat addictive
-enemies aren't varied
-not enough weapons
-camera angle (at some points)
-lots of searching, you get lost often on the first playthrough
-fighting system could be improved
-literally scares the hell out of you (could be good or bad)
-over too quickly
-too many locked doors
Overall score: 9/10
Although it seems that there about as many cons as there are pros, the pros clearly outweigh the cons. Now onto the subject of whether you should buy or rent this game...I suggest that you first rent this game, and if you want to play again (which you will, trust me) you should buy. At this point, the game only costs $20, so buying it shouldn't be too much trouble.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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