‘Silent Hill: HD’ is classic horror with classic problems

By Glenn Battishill

If someone were to look up a list of the scariest games ever it would be a cold day in Hell if “Silent Hill 2” didn’t make the top three. “Silent Hill 3” often makes the same lists but is considered by many to be less scary but much creepier.

Silent Hill 2

“Silent Hill 2” follows James Sunderland, a clerk who receives a letter from his dead wife, Mary, who tells him to come join her in Silent Hill. James, naturally, is confused and heads to the town to figured out what’s going on.

As he strolls through the town he soon realizes that the town seems to have it out for him and the people he runs into are of very little help. It helps to create a small idea that the whole ordeal might just be James’ head playing tricks on him.

The game excels at telling a story and it does so mostly with a healthy spoonful of symbolism. James is a lonely guy and all the monsters have feminine features and movements that seem to suggest that all the monsters are just a horrible reflection of James’ damaged subconscious. The exception to this rule is Pyramidhead, a towering execution of sorts who seems more content to assault the female monsters of the town rather than chase down James.

The thing the game does best is atmosphere and tone. Due to the originally small capabilities of “Silent Hill 2,” when it was on the Playstation 2, most of the game’s areas don’t render farther than a few feet which leaves James stumbling into monsters simply because he didn’t seem them.

The flashlight is often your sole source of illumination and a radio feeds you static when monsters approach. The sound design of the game gives the player the idea that there is always someone right behind them and often the static sounds too late.

It’s an amazing experience but one that hasn’t aged very well. While the game boasts “HD” graphics, it’s more like “HD-ish” graphics with most character models have parts of them in HD and parts of them in their original decade old glory.

For example, a character’s hair might be completely retexturized but their face might still be a mess.

The voice acting, old and new versions, are dreadful but it’s part of the fun.

The controls take some serious getting used to, mostly because when the camera isn’t perched in the most annoying place in the room it takes it’s time to swing to where you want it. While this may indeed be part of the fear of the game, it can be really frustrating sometimes.

The combat is slow, clunky and often isn’t worth the effort since James handles like a groggy bear with a baseball bat.

The puzzles are usually fun and rewarding sometimes create moments of raw frustration.

The worst part of the game is that the default movement scheme is set to “3D mode” which makes the play seem to run in random directions whenever the camera changes positions, which it does very often.

Silent Hill 3

The “Silent Hill: HD Collection” also includes “Silent Hill 3” which follows teenager, Heather Mason, and her journey into the Hellish town of Silent Hill after a strange man confronts her at the mall with information about her birth. This game is the only direct sequel in the whole franchise and continues the same story from the original “Silent Hill,” about a cult trying to resurrect their god.

“Silent Hill 3” does a great job of creating scary moments and filling the whole world with creepy sights and sounds. While not as good as “Silent Hill 2” it still stands as one of the scariest games in history. The controls aren’t much different from “Silent Hill 2” and have the same frustrating issues. Combat sucks more so in this game on account of you being a girl with no formal training on how to bludgeon someone to death with a pipe.

Regardless the game is still super creepy and tells a good story.

The price tag attached to the pair is $39.99, which isn’t bad considering that these games would cost around $30 individually for the Playstation 2.

While it is great to play these games again it is a little disappointing that there isn’t much improvement. I feel like a newer, better control scheme would have been helpful.

The “Silent Hill: HD Collection” is available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.