Silent Hill HD Collection
PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Silent Hill HD Collection Review
Review By Jickle @ 07:24am 12/04/12
It’s worth noting, straight up, that this is my first experience with both Silent Hill 2 and 3, the two games in this collection. Considering their reputation, it was hard not to get excited about playing these two genre classics for the first time. But as well as the games hold up in many ways, the issues with this collection are still noticeable for newcomers. These are great games, but this isn’t necessarily a great collection.
Presentation wise, this is bare-bones stuff. There are no extras to speak of, the PS3 version has a 4gig mandatory install (although both games still suffer from frame-rate stutters), and there’s no way of quitting back to the menu in-game. This is pretty much par for the course with these collections, sadly, but we wish some more effort had been put into it. The voice acting has been re-recorded (you can choose to hear the original voices on SH2, but not on SH3, bizarrely), but there’s nothing exceptional about the new recordings. Stopping the conversion process at two games was a little lazy as well when most developers are cramming three games on the disc these days, and the PS2 alone saw three more Silent Hill releases (Origins, Shattered Memories and The Room).
The games themselves have held up well, although they’re both very difficult to get into. Silent Hill 2 has long been considered one of the most effectively chilling, poignant and effective survival games ever made, and playing through now it’s easy to see why. Some parts of the game have aged better than others – the controls are frustrating as hell, for instance – but Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack is just as incredible as everyone has been telling me it is for the past decade or so, and the plot (protagonist James has come to Silent Hill after being invited there by a letter from his dead wife) is very interesting.
But the fog effects in this HD conversion are appalling. Far from the oppressive curtain they should be, walking through Silent Hill is often more akin to walking through a giant steamy sauna than a terrifying hellhole. The game will still manage to freak the hell out of you, although going in you should be aware that this isn’t the most straightforward gaming experience out there, and if you expect your hand to be held you may well give up within the first few hours. But if the thought of avoiding combat, struggling with puzzles and getting lost in the fog excites you, few games do it better than SH2.
Silent Hill 3 has, visually, fared a bit better. It looks great, but doesn’t perform particularly well, often stuttering or briefly pausing when multiple enemies are nearby. The controls are still painful, although having limited camera control helps a lot, and the soundtrack and general audio design is every bit as wonderful and disturbing as that of its predecessor. It gets off to a better start too, in that it starts chucking multiple monsters at you within minutes of gaining control. Players unfamiliar with the genre will struggle with both games, although making some headway with this one is probably a little easier. If you’re completely new to the series though, perhaps starting off with Downpour is a good idea – it’s not as good as either of these games, but it’s a gentler introduction to the gameplay style.
Silent Hill HD Collection features two very fine, albeit extremely unpleasant and not super accessible, games. It’s nowhere near as polished as Konami’s other recent compilation, the brilliant MGS HD collection, and going by most reports and footage we’ve seen of what has been changed, we can only really recommend the HD collection if you can’t access PS2 or PC copies of the original games. If that’s the case, feel free to pick this up… and grab some new underwear while you’re at it.