Silent Hill 3 PS2 Review

The Japanese definitely know how to scare us when it comes to horror, and there’s nothing more telling on this subject than Konami’s perverse Silent Hill series. Set in a universe where nothing is ever as it seems and tormented characters wander, the series has fast become one of the best horror legacies on the shelves. The third game in the series places us into a familiar playing environment but with a few notable changes.

The most apparent change is the fact that following on from two male characters you’ll be playing as a teenage girl with an attitude problem. Controlling 17-year-old Heather doesn’t really bring anything markedly different to the constantly shocking series, although having a female character as the major central character in the midst of the story does make a nice change on the instalment that puts the full stop in the trilogy. Like the two characters that preceded her, Heather finds herself in one crazy situation where lumps of shiny flesh roam the environment, fountains of blood pour from the walls and everything looks rather rusty and hellish. Following a trip to the mall things start becoming weird for the poor teenager, and all this before she has even ventured into Silent Hill. The plot is truly captivating and a little twist will be of some interest to those clued up on the happenings of the very first game way back on the PlayStation.

Controlling a female character aside, Silent Hill 3 certainly isn’t a revolution for those expecting such a thing. The torchlight is still essential for showing you a path of progression; the sinister sound of your crackling radio still forewarns you of any foes in the vicinity, and the puzzles are still there (cleverly you can choose the difficulty of the puzzles as well as the action.) Familiarity is a good thing for such a fantastic series. The game is a bit more action orientated compared to previous titles in the series though, and this obviously means more ammo and guns with more bang.

The inclusion of an Uzi speaks volumes for this more action-heavy direction, although your trigger finger can’t become too itchy as ammo does remain rather scarce and weapon reliance does again tend to fall to the usual household stuff such as steel pipes or planks of wood. We actually prefer the melee weaponry to the guns as smashing the craniums of pointless lumps of flesh is ever so satisfying; call us barbarians if you wish. The combat does remain a little cumbersome, although it does manage to fit into the game well, and many of the melee weapons expectedly feel quite heavy to wield.

But as is always the case, Silent Hill relies on an immersive atmosphere and this eclipses all else. As a psychological horror title it’s highly successful and doesn’t have the usual “gallons of the red stuff” shock tactic. That said the walls that ooze blood are just clever and if there’s something near that we cannot see but definitely hear, it always made us wonder what our hazy torchlight was going to fall over next. Hell, the game even somehow makes mannequins and pink bunnies scary. Yes, it’s highly disturbing throughout, but it’s all the makings of the series and – as sick as it may be – this is genius and classic horror stuff that gets in your head.

The horror is also visually depicted well and not forgetting to mention that it’s quite simply one of the most attractive games seen on the PS2 thus far. Lighting is placed where you would expect and also acts accordingly around Heather’s detailed model, blanketing her realistically and patching one part of her body with light whilst leaving the other part to remain and wallow in the darkness. The in-game character models are also eerily realistic with astonishing facial features (Heather even has a freckled complexion!) during the plot sequences. Then there are the freaks that make up much of Silent Hill’s population; the guy who designed these is clearly insane but equally a genius for coming up with lumps of walking flesh that are over 6ft tall, scuttling pests, and obese oddities that walk drunkenly towards you.

Thanks to masterful storytelling and the surreal imaginative universe we found ourselves in, Silent Hill 3 is a horror masterpiece. The shocking imagery may turn many a stomach but it’s all part of the Silent Hill parcel. If the combat wasn’t as clumsy we’d be looking at certain perfection, but for now Silent Hill 3 should please those who actually like to hear of things that go bump in the night.