Review by Mysticcat
This may be the first Silent Hill that has really attracted me !
I want to begin my review with a honest sentence : I'm not truly a fan of Silent Hill series. I think it's not so strange, since the game you play may not be the one you like. And that has many reasons. But the realistic explorer's style and the deviant horror feeling it brings me has fascinated me - something that I can't deny. And it has explained why I purchased this game : the third journey of Silent Hill series.
While Silent Hill 2 was a separated story, Silent Hill 3 continues the events of the first game which was ended happily for everybody. Here you take control of Heather Mason, the little girl adopted by Harry Mason at the end of Silent Hill 1, to find out about her true identity by herself, after many strange things happened at her 17th bithday. This game is almost the same as its predecessors about general style, but has more beautiful and detailed graphic and music. I can't describe my amazement when realizing that all the talk scenes in the game are realtime instead of FMVs like most games. Silent Hill 3 has created a fresh and variable horror environment : the fearful normal world from Silent Hill 2 and the deep darkness of the alternate world from Silent Hill 1. My heart just doesn't stop thumping...
In my opinion, Silent Hill 3 may be the most various Silent Hill game in the series until now (I have played Silent Hill 4 also). There are many kinds of weapons : not only simply pipes, rods or the so popular guns, but also swords, beams and even... magic. Most of the strange weapons are secrets so you have to replay the game a bunch of times, finish certain standards to possess them. The variety of weapons go with the variety of the character's moves. Her moves can a little change when you switch a different type of weapon. Besides, this game also has challenging difficulty. Anyone who just plays Easy mode can't imagine what's in the next level Normal mode. You can't just rely on a weapon to survive, since every enemy has designed to be beaten by certain weapon and strategy. So it's best to combine them. One of the symbols of Silent Hill series - the riddles - doesn't disappoint its fans. There is also an riddle difficulty setting and you'll see, they are as insanely tricky as the ones in Silent Hill 2. However, being a simple adventure game, like any other games of the same genre, Silent Hill 3 can't avoid some repetitive gameplay during the process and for some certain players. But in general, if someone who has never played Silent Hill series but want to try the its greatest representative, Silent Hill 3 must be the best choice : gathering the excellent advantages of the whole series, gets admirable graphic and sounds, has variable battle system and possesses the mixed-up horror environment.
This score is given compared to other Silent Hill games. The most expected element has become disappointed since the great Silent Hill 3 gets the poorest story of all (in my opinions). It has lost the toughness and unexpected episodes from SH1, the deeply meaningful events of SH2. It's just like a normal journey to find the truth like any detective story. After a sequence of strange events going on, Heather is forced to get on to find out her true identity as well as to give an end to those. This episode has nearly covered the basic story of the game without proceeding more. The journey just simply makes more sense and details inside. Of course, there is still a great deal of mystery in the game, but it's just not remarkable compared to the basic events that have been shown in light. This is so bad, right ? 7.5/10.
Battle System 8/10
Well, same as before. You obtain weapons on the way or unlock the secret ones, then equip and use them. If there's a difference, it must be the character's better and more graceful movements. Just as simple as any adventure game. But as I said in the Intro, Silent Hill 3 has got a bigger variety of weapons as well as the new secret magic system. And this is acceptable for an adventure game belonging to Silent Hill lineage. But I think if Konami has been talented enough to create more and more horror styles, they should leave a bit of their creativity for the battle system as well. Still so poor !
In fact Silent Hill characters' designs are always neither cool nor beautiful. But for this series, they deserve high scores. From the beginning, Konami has built the characters' style in Silent Hill : No cool-looking gentleman, no pretty lady, just normal people who look close to us, but have to face abnormal fates. So they don't either look idealistic as most protagonists, or so talented as anime genius. They are just normal people, they have personalities and they can commit mistakes, then have to pay for them. Heather Mason, Douglas Cartland and some others in Silent Hill 3 are no exceptions. The heroine, Heather, has been designed to be unpretty and stubborn. She has spotty face and clumsy attitudes, just like most normal girls. She is not exaggerated to be the best fighter or an idealistic warrior. This is what I'm was impressed about Silent Hill and the reason why I like this game. Perfect protagonists are everywhere, but normal and simply nice ones are not. But Silent Hill, including this game, has succeeded and attracted tons of fans with them, right ?
Sounds and Music 9/10
About the sounds, I think there's no need to discuss more. Lively sounds is something that mustn't be missed for the taste of a horror game. You can be still scared without the events, but the sounds only. And Silent Hill just never seems to disappoint me with this : the scary stepping sounds of the monsters, the fearful noises of unknown objects... Mixing them with the deeply dark atmosphere creates the everest horror. That's all for sounds. About the next half of this passage, maybe this is the first Silent Hill game in which I can hear lively music and themes which have singers. This time Konami has concentrated efforts in the music, unlike previous games which just had pieces of instrumental melodies. But generally, one thing that doesn't change is that Silent Hill music is always mixed very carefully that matches the game's style. The melodies sound not only tragic as the nolstagic stories, but also fearful as the horror it brings to us. I'm always moved when I listen to Silent Hill music. Well, it's not exactly good, but abstract and can cause emotions. This has satisfied the true purpose of game music, so I completely accept to give it a high score : 9/10.
This is what I like and admire the most in Silent Hill 3. Konami has got an impressive achievement for a PS2 game : 99.99% of the game is realtime movies. At first I didn't believe. Sony Playstation 2 is an advanced console, but not advanced enough to run a game with such graphic. But after playing the game, I have known that everything can be settled. Maybe the conversation scenes in this game which are mostly done in Realtime are not as sharp and smooth as those for Xbox and GameCube consoles, but that has too enough for me : Heather's elaborate hair, her lovely spotty face and skin, her folded clothes can be seen exactly in both game motions and cutscenes ; she has graceful moves, acting like a real person ; her face can express most kinds of people's emotions : laughing in happiness, sadness, disappointment, anger, etc. Those things performed in Realtime are what I had never seen in any other games before, or if there was, they would be just simple and clumsy, such as the "beautiful" Final Fantasy X. Heather Mason, the heroine, is not the only who gets good care. Konami doesn't forget anyone in their work : Douglas with his chubby face and untidy hair, Claudia with a difficult emotion. The creator not only cares for the characters' graphical details, but insist on the expression of their personalities as well. This is the true success of a character designer. I take Final Fantasy X as an example : Although SquareExix has tried to make each character looks unique, we can see how "unnatural" they are : Speaking is cared more than attitudes, and if there are, the attitudes just seem to be installed so clearly and repetitive. So now you can see how great SH3 graphic is !
Secrets & Sidequests 9/10
As the less amazing story, this time Konami doesn't create so many secrets about the ending. But instead, you are given tons of little secret stuffs : Heather's T-shirt patterns and costumes, secret weapons and magic. Each time you complete the game and finish some certain standards, you are given at least a new stuff. Unless you use a guide, you'll have to finish the game tons of times if you want to peel off all the secrets.
Replay Value 9/10
Well, the "Secrets & Sidequests" above has proved how much the replay value is. Of course it is valuable when you play the Silent Hill 3 without guides. Besides, it's a fun to try various weapons of this game throughout the game, too. I assure !
Konami shouldn't have despised the storyline to leave such a bug for a perfect game like Silent Hill 3. Storyline is one of the series' traditions. Losing it is just like losing something very essential for a Silent Hill game. Without this bug and the unchanged battle system, Silent Hill 3 might have got a 9.5 score from me.
- Excellent and detailed graphic without FMVs (first of all).
- Talented characters' designs.
- Great music and sounds.
- Variety of cool weapons and equipments.
- Meaningful but troubling puzzles (truly Silent Hill style).
- Pretty disappointing story.
- Battle system needs more modifications.
Gameplay : 8/10
Storyline : 7.5/10
Battle System : 8/10
Characters' Designs : 9.5/10
Sound & Music : 9/10
Graphic : 10/10
Secrets & Sidequests : 9/10
Replay Value : 9/10
Overall score : 9/10 (not average score, okay ?)
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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