Review by EmpressOfTheStars

Reviewed: 08/09/03

Grab that old teddy bear of yours and don't play alone!

''Some parts of this game may be considered violent or cruel.''
What a warning.
Of course to anyone who's played the previous two Silent Hill games this is nothing new. Silent Hill is the series that is now notorious for really pushing the envelope on just how far a series can go with violence, gore and psychological terror. Silent Hill 3 does just that in an amazing way.

Graphics: 9/10
Silent Hill has always been notorious for it's graphics. Some love them, some hate them, but with Silent Hill 3 there's very little to hate or dislike. As in the past games, the graphics set the scene perfectly from eerie fog to blood stained grating, in turn letting you know from the start that this won't be your typical watered down survival horror video game.

The graphics themselves are very similar to Silent Hill 2's except that the characters seem more smooth and more realistic if possible to imagine. Little things contribute to this, such as the facial expressions, the stance Heather takes if standing still too long and the joints in the arms or legs. The FMVs are much more touched up and much glossier than the second's with more facial expression and realism such as the small detail in Heather's lips and eyes.

As the game shifts to the alternate world that Silent Hill is famous for, more changes in graphics are noticeable, and for the better. Now in certain levels, where there was just once corrosion, rot, decay, blood, wire and grating, now we have that amplified by real-time effects. In common terms: the freakin' walls squirm! The environment, like the characters, now seems to have a life all it's own (from blood seeping across walls like some sort of infectious worm to walls that writhe with their own skin) which is wonderful as it paints the town of Silent Hill to be a living and breathing entity making it all the more terrifying.

Sound: 7/10
First let's touch down on everyone's favorite issue: Voice Overs.
In my humble opinion, the voice actors are just average. Nothing supremely special aside from the fact that this time around the voices pretty much match the lip movement word for word. As for the voices themselves, I believe Silent Hill 2 pulled this off much better. Personally I was half let down by the character's voices. The major flaws are painfully evident in Douglas' VA (which just sounded bored and hushed the whole time) and Vincent's VA (whereas he misses the emotion that is there in much of his lines). That's not to say ALL the voices are bad. Claudia and Heather's are quite decent and fit their characters reasonably well. Putting it simply it's better than Silent Hill 1's and lacking from Silent Hill 2.

Moving on we go to the general soundtrack and background music and sounds. Silent Hill 3 boasts a more gentle soundtrack than Silent Hill 1. Where Silent Hill 1 would hit you with the most unnerving music at any times, the only real time you're hit with the unnerving tunes is when a monster attacks, otherwise it's pretty much silent. The overall themes and music that are played in cut scenes aren't so much ominous as they're mellow and pack just a bit of emotion. However Silent Hill 3 makes up for that minor setback in the sound department. This time around there's loads more creepy sounds. From the sound of a child's tears and timid footsteps to a loud gargling of boiling blood or simply the ''what-the-heck-was-that?!'' sounds that appear all too often in dark spots. They're not overdone but put in just the right places so that when playing (especially with the lights off) it makes you want to run and grab your teddy bear you haven't slept with since you were eight. The music might not get to you but I guarantee the sounds will leave you nervous for the rest of the night.

Gameplay: 7/10
What can I say about Gameplay? If you're looking for new features, you're going to be disappointed. It's basically the same system that was in the last two games. Run around aimlessly with only a map as your guide, gather weapons and items, kill monsters and yes...solve puzzles. However, bear in mind that this IS the third game. Obviously that system works so why mess with it? It still makes for a great horror/survival game, and really what more CAN there be aside from those basics? There's also the camera angles to take into account. It's pretty unchanged from the second game, however I will say this: be careful. There's more than a few spots where the camera angle is set up just so that you HEAR that faint inhuman cry but you cannot see around the corner, so it comes down to do or die. And THAT makes for some darn scary ambiance.
The controls seem to be a bit smoother as well. Walking is now pretty easy whereas compared to the first, simply walking or running with the character was a chore.

Lastly, the Gameplay overall is a bit slow in terms of moving on with the story. This time around your main character spends an AWFUL lot of time exploring the levels, which are significantly bigger by boasting more rooms to explore. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending just on what kind of person you are. Some like to soak up the environment and get thoroughly creeped out and find all the gory little goodies Konami has put in this game while others are in it simply for the storyline. If you fall into the second group, this is where this game may fall a little short, but I'll cover that later under storyline.

Scariness: 10/10
Put the kids to bed for this one because this game is scary with a capital ''S.'' I'd go so far as to call it ''terrifying'' even. I remember the first night I dared to play this game alone in the dark, I went to bed with the light on and even then I had a pretty restless sleep. This game will get to you that much. It has an eeriness that resonates even after you set the controller down and switch off your PS2. I would definitely say that this game surpasses the previous two in terms of scariness. Silent Hill 1 was break through and it made you scared and even nervous. I felt Silent Hill 2 made you creeped out but was more story driven. This one takes the scares of both those games and throws them at you times five. I will be entirely honest when I say that it's not a game that's easy to play alone or in the dark.

Story: 8/10
All right now we're at the story. I'm very open minded when it comes to this category and I read between the lines a lot, which is to say that if you do the same you may find that you actually like this storyline. The same won't be said for the majority that play this game.

Out front, Silent Hill 3's storyline is long, complex, confusing and does take some actual thought. From the start Heather is thrown into the bizarre and horrifying world that is ''alternate'' Silent Hill. A lot of people have complained that this method made for a bad storyline or that there was no substance. I have to disagree. If anything it draws you more within the world of Silent Hill. Not only are you driven to find out just what in the hack is going on, but you're driven to survive. Heather is in a sense every one of gamers who play this game. What I mean when I say that is, how would one react upon entering this bizarre place that makes our day-to-day reality look like a squeaky clean fairy tale? Would we run away and hide in a corner and scream until sanity slipped away? Or would you fight back and make a try to find out the reason why this has happened? Seeing Heather carry on in such an evil place actually made me empathize with her more and feel her fear and that is such a rare thing in games when you can make that connection with a character.

Now in terms of the actual storyline, like I said it's quite complex. A lot of people complained that Silent Hill 2's storyline was too complex. If you were one of those people, you'll probably loathe the third's storyline for it's far more confusing than Silent Hill 2's. In my opinion, that's okay. I know there's gamers out there like me, that enjoy a storyline, especially in a video game, that makes you sit back and think. Gives you something to occupy an hour of less of your day and that's okay with me. A big gripe of mine however is that the storyline IS very religious orientated, but not how you'd think. There was maybe too much. Too much to the point that I felt like I was actually taking religion classes rather than playing a game. Luckily most of the religious references don't really come about until the end area of the game.

Overall I'd say in terms of heart, emotions and morals Silent Hill 2 takes the cake. Silent Hill 3 has emotion (a very poignant moment in the apartments to be precise) but not the depth that Silent Hill 2 had.

Originality: 4/10
The whole idea of the Silent Hill concept itself is original all it's own. It sincerely stands out from every other survival horror game that's been made. However, when stacked up against it's predecessors really not that much has changed. It's still the same old, same old reused survival horror system, but like I mentioned above in ''Gameplay'' this is the third game of this series so that system must work. Of course, there's always room for improvement.

Final Verdict: 8/10
Flat out, Silent Hill 3 is a game unlike any other, but it does involve patience and some guts (not that there isn't enough strewn about in the hospital!). It could truly be called the scariest game of it's time. It lacks a little in storyline (simply by how long it takes to reveal the grand scheme) and it lacks a lot in originality but that doesn't in anyway make it a bad game. I would say, if you feel you're a patient person and you like the thrills and scares that horror movies and other survival horror games give off, then definitely shell out that 49.99 for this game. You probably won't be disappointed. And hey! You get a free soundtrack too! (^_^)

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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