Video Game Review of the Week
--Review by KenshiroKing @ 8/19/03 00:08 PST.
Silent Hill 3
Survival horror slut that I am, I couldn't wait to get my greasy paws on Konami's latest: Silent Hill 3. I have been a big fan of the Silent Hill series and regard Silent Hill 2 as the pinnacle of the survival horror genre, so it was with great anticipation that I plunged into SH3.
In Silent Hill 3 you play as Heather, a teenage girl who suddenly finds herself stuck in a nightmare reality battling hideous creatures for her life. You begin the game in a mall and are met by a private detective named Douglas. He informs Heather that he needs to speak with her, but she, believing that he is just some wierdo, evades him by crawling out a bathroom window. It is at this point that you begin the classic Silent Hill slide into the "Otherworld" which is an alternate reality that can only be described as a horrible nightmare where once familiar environments become broken down, distasteful to behold on many levels, and filled with grotesque creatures. During the course of her travels, Heather also meets Claudia. Claudia is an older woman who appears to know what is going on and Heather begins to believe that all that is happening is somehow related to this mysterious woman. Throughout the game, Heather flips back and forth between the normal world and the Otherworld while she attempts to find out what is going on and escape from this terrible existance.
Basically, the reason I like the Silent Hill series so much is because they succeed in doing what a survival horror title should, by definition, do. By that I mean to scare the crap out of you or, short of that, at least creep you out. SH3, like its predecessors, creates an feeling of unease that makes it very easy to become deeply involved in the game. The characters are typically well developed and help to draw you further into the game. As you unravel the fairly deep and well written plot, you begin to care more and more for Heather and thus, become attached to her. When you are emotionally attached to a character, the gaming experience is heightened and very much more enjoyable.
Whereas sound is an extremely important part of any video game, in a survival horror it becomes such a necessity that, without it, the game would be a complete failure. Silent Hill 3's sound is above and beyond anything I have seen in a survival horror title. The soundtrack for the game is so good that I have been playing the music CD that comes with the game almost nonstop in my car when I am driving around. The way the tracks are seemlessly integrated into the game combined with the excellent ambient sound effects make for an immersive audio experience. My only problem is that the PS2 lacks Dolby 5.1 support. If this title had been on the Xbox (which I hope it will) the use of surround sound would make the game just that much more interactive.
Graphically, Silent Hill 3 hovers around the top of the spectrum for PS2 games. Everything is realistic and, when the noise filter is turned off, very crisp. Unfortunately, turning the noise filter off deprives the gamer of the classic grainyness that has come to be associated with the SH series, so the true graphical definition of the game cannot be fully appreciated without loosing some of the feel that the creators were trying to establish. In direct contrast to the much hated (by me) Clock Tower 3, the shadows of the character are dynamic and well defined. Your shadow shrinks and grows as you move further and closer away from a lightsource and it actually reflects the direction from which the light comes (gasp!). I had myself a bit of a chuckle when I noticed that there is actually a title for the guy who developed the shadows, that appears to be his only job. Well, pay that man his money, he earned it.
Overall, this game is an excellent addition to an survival horror afficianado's library and worth at least a play for anyone who appreciates the genre. Unfortunately, survival horrors are not for everyone. Many people lack the desire to invest the time necessary to truly appreciate them, and prefer a nice FPS instead. To those people recommend not this game, but Silent Hill 2. It is a much better game overall and I still consider it the flagship of the series. Not to say that SH3 is not a worthy successor to the line, by no means. If you have even a passing interest in anything that is scary or creepy, or just like to play a game that makes you think, pick this one up, you wont be sorry.