Review by Websterh8su
Reviewed: 05/25/03 | Updated: 05/25/03
The Apex of Survival Horror Gaming? (...Yes.)
Ah, good old Silent Hill. The game that made me throw up when I was 10. The game that pushed the limits of what you'd believe, the game that featured true fear without relying on cheap 'jump moments', and the game that... had a disappointing sequel, in the form of SH2. SH2 has been accurately described as the 'five-mile walk', as 50% was spent wandering around in the fog waiting for the next cutscene. It was shockingly boring in places, lacking the tight-knit combat and puzzle combination that made the original so compelling. Well, I am pleased to say, Silent Hill is back (In Europe first, I might add), and better than ever. It's also a tad creepy, as you would come to expect from the series. Duh.
Silent Hill 2 had excellent graphics, hampered by a cheap fog effect, but still great graphics. This is better. Every monster, every environment, everything is better. It's all fully realised and totally polished, and the graphics can easily stand up to the likes of REmake on the GC. The main character Heather is superbly animated, and every movement is fluid. There are a few gripes with character models, like oddly-shaped elbows, but this is forgivable. The reason the graphics are so good is because of the way they are used. It's all very well having a great looking corridor, but adding in a flashlight casting shadows that dance around and play tricks on your eyes, monsters that glint from your flashlight beam and blood that drips from the walls, and you've got something special.
The things we fear most are the things we haven't seen, or heard. The game's composer definitely takes this fact to heart, creating a wild array of ****-you-up noises. These are all backed by a superb, chaotic tune, designed to give you a sense of fear. The game also features a melancholic guitar-driven theme tune, that rather oddly, works. Voice acting is on par with what you'd expect, although there is no-one who amazes you with their talent. But, after saying that, the soundtrack is more than good enough to account for slightly above-average voice acting.
Remember the hospital bit from SH2? Or the school from SH1? Well, SH3 has abandoned (nearly) all of that pointless wandering fog-wandering from earlier releases, and has instead, focused on making tighter puzzle-driven sections such as the ones previously mentioned. This means that you become more attached to your surroundings (I swear, I was a bit sad when you had to leave the Mall at the start of the game) and more gunplay is involved, as the cramped corridors mean that there is little room to maneuver, so enemies must be killed to give yourself breathing space. One grouch I have is that there aren't enough cut-scenes (for once), and this means that some environments feel like dark corridors that are there with no relation to the story. Riddles are slightly harder, and bullets aren't as plentiful as in the previous two outings, but this is for the better. As for the actual 'my pants are brown now, thanks a lot Konami' parts, they are plentiful. Some of them are absolute genius, but if I told you one, it would spoil the game. For a hint as to one of my favourites so far, I'll say... knock knock. It comes early on in the game... and you'll turn the game off in fear if you aren't ready for it. As for weapons, they are plentiful, and include a katana, a shotgun and an uzi. It's the puzzles that make the game great though.
Yes, it's a survival horror. Yes, I know they're never too long, but the longevity is SH3's ultimate let-down. I clocked in at around 10 hours (that includes game overs) and felt a little short-changed, and longing for more. Thankfully, there is great replay incentive, with three endings, unlockable weapons and unlockable costumes, it'll keep you busy after your first play, that's if you are brave enough to play through it again... mwahhahahahaa...
-Great story and presentation.
-Crapping your pants feels strangely rewarding.
-Pinnacle of Survival Horror.
-New underwear costs quite a lot.
-Occasionally confusing environments.
It's strange really. At the same time I celebrate for SH3, I realise it also rings the death knell for survival horror. The genre can't get much better, so pick up what could be the last truly astonishing survival horror game while you can.
(Also, pick up a night-light and a teddy-bear if you plan to play at night. You'll need them... trust me.)
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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