Review by BBOYChaioth

Reviewed: 07/18/11

I'm Scared Just Writing About It...

Silent Hill 3 (PS2) Review

Here’s part 3 of my Silent Hill Review series, the result of recent play-throughs on past Silent Hill titles in the spirit of the upcoming Silent Hill Downpour. In the recent playing of the past Silent Hill titles, I played with much scrutiny (as mentioned in my previous review) on graphics, gameplay mechanics, sound, story, etc. And I will give comparisons to the newer installments and the trend that we are seeing in the more recent Silent Hill titles. This review is coming 8 years after the release of Silent Hill 3, but just as my Silent Hill 2 review was intended to give players a thorough understanding of the game and where they can jump in the series, this review will serve the same
purpose. Let’s get started, shall we?

Silent Hill 3 is a direct continuation of Silent Hill, released on the PSOne in 1999, which detailed the exploits of protagonist Harry Mason as he searches the twisted town of Silent Hill for his missing daughter Cheryl. Harry finds that his daughter is not simply Cheryl, but also Alessa Gillespie (I won’t explain this, play the game or read into the Silent Hill wiki for more info… it’s too much to put into a game review) and that she has ties to a cult known as the Order, and that she alone is responsible for the demonic world that Silent Hill becomes. The ending of the first Silent Hill leads into the main plot of Silent Hill 3. Now, 17 years later, Silent Hill 3 begins.

Heather Mason, a 17 year old teenage girl is our main protagonist in this installment, which has been hailed by many as the best in the series. Silent Hill 3 will take players deeper into the universe of the Silent Hill town and the Order, fleshing out the story to greater lengths and absorbing players into the Silent Hill Universe. Here’s the breakdown in categories:

STORY – 10/10: The Silent Hill story is something that was a fantastic story to begin with and then started spiraling a little out of control with the movie adaptation (2006) and Homecoming installment (2008). However, in this early stage of the series, the story was still something that was gripping and immersive. In direct continuation of Silent Hill, we see the Order of Silent Hill, more-so than just about any other installment; not necessarily in physical form, but the Order’s story is more prevalent and their influence over the corruption of Silent Hill is clearly seen. Despite the obvious emphasis on the Order though, there is a very well-defined story for out protagonist, Heather, that ties in well with the Order, all coming to a fantastic conclusion. Add the already well-developed story with the fact that graphics were definitely pushed to technological limits for the PlayStation 2, and players will have an experience that is both thought provoking, and very emotional. It is tough to feel emotion for a bunch of polygonal figurines with a relatively low quality of voice acting, but here, both graphics and voice acting are top notch given the time it was made, which leads me into the next point.

GRAPHICS – 9/10: As I said previously in my Silent Hill 2 review, my rating for the graphics is based on the graphics FOR THE TIME IN WHICH THE GAME WAS MADE. I am well aware that games look fantastically better than this nowadays, but I need to be fair. The graphics in Silent Hill 3 are simply fantastic. You can see so clearly the emotion that each of the characters feel, you can be a part of the story because of this. I think that Heather’s facial emotions at one certain point of the game in her house (I won’t spoil it) were perfect. In addition, the mouth movements were not far off from the voices, which is pleasant for me because I am honestly irritated by them being far off in many titles. In addition to the attention to detail on the human characters, there is also a large emphasis on the enemies’ detail. Despite being a morbidly obese blob, the Insane Cancer took the trophy home for favorite monster in this installment. Not only were they scary, but the attention to their design was great, and the bulbous puss balls on their skin and open flesh was really disturbing, and this is one of the best feelings to have in a horror game. A lot of times, I would have preferred to run from these guys, but often they impede necessary progress. Another graphical achievement that I noticed was in the first boss, the Split Worm. Seemingly, there isn’t much to it, but after looking at its model, noticing the strings of flesh holding its jaw to its outer shell was detailed enough to really be nasty, which I have to say, added to the fight.

SOUND – 10/10: Again, Akira Yamaoka came through with his genius soundtracks and overall ambiance, implementing a musical track or sound at the perfect time to heighten emotion or put the fear of The Higher Being within you (whomever you believe in, if any at all). As stated in my SH2 review, I feel the ambiance and soundtrack can make or break a game, and can add or ruin the experience. In this case, it adds to the experience and adds to the quality of the game. I also noted in this game that the soundtracks themselves took a little bit of a different turn, a decent amount of them incorporating more a musical piece feel as opposed to a sound effect feel. This was something that kind of made me leery the first time I played the game, but something that I found was a very welcome addition. It gave the game much more of a real feeling.

ENVIRONMENT – 10/10: Environment has its own category in my Silent Hill reviews because the town itself is the center of every game, as are the Otherworld transformations. In this installment, there is much more of a commercial and industrial feel. You experience a shopping mall, a construction site, an amusement park, and more. These environments are in contrast to other installments having a lack of an industrial feel, having environments such as an abandoned orphanage, prisons, apartments, etc. With this choice of environments being utilized in the normal world, the Otherworld takes them to a mutilated extreme, and in Silent Hill 3’s Otherworld has been said to be one of the best Otherworlds in the series. Every Otherworld transformation that the games undertake is themed on the protagonist’s personal Hell, facing personal demons and themed around their dark past. In this installment, the Otherworld is a bloody, fleshy, incredibly scary place. Silent Hill 3’s Otherworld is definitely much more about the scare then the subtle creepiness that was shown in Silent Hill 2, which is good because it showed that Team Silent wasn’t just trying to give more of the same and that they were mixing it up a little. This Otherworld was the bloodiest and the scariest in the series in my opinion. In addition to the Otherworld itself, there were moments where the environment actually changed in front of you, and made the player feel a sense of dread and helplessness. Perfect, because those are the emotions you want a player to feel in this genre.

SCARE FACTOR – 10/10: Few games have scared me as much as Silent Hill 3, and no games come even close to the Silent Hill series as far as the scare factor goes. I have played different series like Resident Evil, Condemned, etc., but Silent Hill will always be the best for me because it is a psychological scare, not just a “BOO!” scare, and this installment is no exception. In addition, this installment utilizes puzzles like Silent Hill 2 in a way that actually makes you think and keeps your mind active enough to not get into a lull of “walk, static, R2+X, door, X, Handgun Bullets (yay)… etc.” so you are constantly on your toes mentally. This ability to engage the player adds to the scare factor because it plays more with your mind, and THAT, my friends, is when people are truly at their most fragile.

OVERALL – 9.5/10: Great game for fans and newcomers alike. Even though newcomers can play the game and still understand most of it, those who have played the first installment would understand the story to its full extent, and it is my recommendation to do that, especially if you are one of those “wanna connect the dots” people, in which case you need to play the first Silent Hill. Overall, this game was a fun experience (I just put “Silent Hill” and “fun” in the same sentence, didn’t I?), especially for a PS2 game. Worth the buy, especially for the current price and plethora of copies floating around.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Silent Hill 3 (US, 08/05/03)

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