Silent Hill HD Collection PS3 Review

Publisher – Konami – Developer – Hijinx Studios/Konami – Genre – Survival Horror – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – Xbox 360

Whilst many appreciate HD remasters for the fact that they introduce some classic games to modern formats, allowing those that missed them to get the chance to play them, or those that no longer possess the means to play the original versions and wish to reacquaint themselves with some of their most treasured of gaming experiences, with the addition of sharper visuals and other bonuses. But, conversely, when HD versions feature problems that weren’t originally there, making them the inferior versions, it just isn’t an acceptable practice.

This brings me to Silent Hill HD Collection, a package that features two of the most wonderful and unnerving survival horror offerings, Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3, though strangely no Silent Hill 4. Whilst one should respect the fact that upgrading old games that were made with particular architecture in mind into HD isn’t always going to be an easy task, Hinjinx Studios has however sadly made a mess, resulting in less of a remaster and something that too often more closely resembles one of the twitching and grotesque monstrosities featured in the games themselves. There’s simply no excuse for publisher Konami to allow some of their most important and well loved properties to be released in such a sorry state.

The two games show their age as well, with all the old style survival horror caveats, such as cumbersome controls, dodgy camera angles and weak combat. Some modern people might well find it hard to accustom to their archaic nature, but they manage to rise above such issues thanks to their overall quality and twisted, but nevertheless absorbing worlds.

Silent Hill 2 is the most fondly remembered game of the collection and is often considered the best that the series has had to offer in its over a decade long history. Silent Hill 3 has more complex level design and a bit more action, but isn’t quite up to the quality of its predecessor.

As is often the case for the series, both games see you playing as seemingly regular people that end up in Silent Hill, a small town that could be quite idyllic, if it wasn’t incessantly shrouded in fog and didn’t have freaky monsters wandering its streets and buildings.

In Silent Hill 2 You play as James Sunderland, a regular fellow that receives an irregular letter, with it seemingly being from his dead wife, Mary, and all. Silent Hill 3 on the other hand stars Heather Morris, a teenage girl with a mysterious past.  At the time of its initial release, Silent Hill 2’s narrative was considered one of the most mature in gaming, covering themes that the medium rarely touched up on and even years later, it still manages to impress in that regard, Silent Hill 3’s, by comparison, is still engaging but more convoluted and overall not as strong. Both however are hurt by a new issue that these particular versions have presented: lip syncing that often doesn’t match up with the spoken dialogue.

The new Silent Hill 2 voice actors, whilst hit and miss in their performances, are largely more proficient than the original cast and those that feel nostalgic for the original acting, regardless of what they thought of the quality, will be glad that the new voices are entirely optional, though sadly with Silent Hill 3, you’re stuck with the fresh voices, though the new voices are often decent enough. The audio design and Musical score of both games is excellent too, being suitably haunting and bizarre, and really doing its job well in complementing the foreboding atmosphere.

The strongest element of both games are their exploration, which sees you wandering around hospitals, malls, hotels and such, stocking up on ammo and health supplies, and finding items that are required to make progression. The puzzles, whilst rarely much of a test for the old grey matter, are satisfying enough, having you finding keys and occasionally combining items to create new ones.

Even today the two games still manage to be immersive, but again, this collection has managed to be inferior in more ways than one. The fog that was so important in building atmosphere for the outdoor sections of Silent Hill 2 in particular is less dense and reveals parts of the world that you were never intended to see and the framerate of, most notably, Silent Hill 3 is crippled, to the point of almost sideshow levels on occasion, as if the PS3 is attempting, and struggling, to run a next generation game as opposed to a last generation one.

One of the weaker aspects of both games, and often the series as a whole, is the clunky combat and whilst in the larger areas, it’s often easier to resist the temptation to kill the twitching abominations and dodge them, the smaller areas however force you to engage them in combat, which due to its awkward nature, can result in some frustrating situations, particularly in Silent Hill 3, with its slightly more action slant and quicker moving enemies than the second game. The sound during the action often doesn’t tally with what’s occurring on screen, of which is once again an unwelcome exclusive feature to these versions.

Whilst in many ways, Silent Hill HD Collection is disrespectful to the original developer Team Silent’s vision, behind such prevalent issues and in spite of how undeniably archaic they are, their quality still however manages to shine through. It’s a testament to the fact of the ingenuity of the games, but as a HD collection, it’s disappointedly sloppy and not the celebration that such a legendary series deserves.