For the last few years, HD Collections have been a common occurrence in the video game world. With Sony and its compilation of the early God of War titles leading the charge, many publishers have followed with high definition iterations of their own franchises. In the case of Konami, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill were definite candidates for this treatment. With the first being a frank success, many fans were wondering how good their favorite horror classics would look with an increased resolution. You have questions, we have answers!
It was 11 years ago that we were treated to the adventures of James Sunderland in the first sequel to Konami’s Silent Hill. Many fans consider that installment to be the best in the series, and attribute that to the poignant story, mature themes, and strong emotional resonance. For these reasons alone, Silent Hill 2 quickly became what many call a classic. Following that success, Team Silent went on to make Silent Hill 3, which attempted to improve on its predecessor in every way. While the third chapter isn’t as highly regarded by enthusiasts, it still is one of the brightest examples of a good survival horror game to this day. Now that we know that the two titles included in this compilation were great, let’s get to the actual quality of the remasters.
"After the excellent Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Silent Hill fans definitely deserved a much better adaptation of some of their favorite games."
Let me start off by saying that the gameplay clearly isn’t up to snuff with more recent releases, but that’s part of the charm of these episodes. To accommodate new gamers, Konami has decided to include brand new “2D controls”, which allow you to move the characters around by simply pushing the stick in the direction you want them to go. Purists that want to play with the original 3D controls still have the option to do so. Using this mode, players will see their character move forward whenever the stick is pushed up, regardless of the position they are in. Having the choice is nice, but I personally found that using the new 2D controls made the game too easy, and took a lot of tension from the original games away. Sure, 3D controls may be hard to master, but it’s definitely rewarding to play the games the way they were meant to be played. Another unfortunate addition is the horrible framerate issues that weren’t present in the original versions. It’s almost unbelievable that these issues could cripple the enjoyment of such great games, but they are major enough to discourage a lot of players from completing the adventures. I even found myself obligated to skip an important cutscene because the game would systematically lock up at a certain part of it. These problems are present in both SH 2 and 3, though they are a lot more handicapping in the latter. Because of this, it’s hard to be enthusiastic about the gameplay experience offered by this HD collection. While these remasters are supposed to offer an improved experience, the opposite is true in this case.
Another important element of a good HD collection is the visual improvements that can be made to the games. In this department, it’s clear that Silent Hill 2 is the biggest loser. The graphics look very dated, the animations are blocky, and the character models are laughable in 2012. Silent Hill 3, on the other hand, didn’t suffer as much. Detailed character models and crisp visuals are aided by the new 720p resolution to bring this creepy world to life. Despite all this, the title manages to disappoint, and not just a little bit. On top of the horrendous framerate issues, some of the visual effects present in the original games are completely gone from this version. A lot of the textures have been replaced by cleaner looking ones and the overall art design suffers quite a bit from the transfer. The fog effects in Silent Hill 2 are completely broken (sometimes failing to render or revealing strange artifacts) and are almost absent from SH3. To add insult to injury, the audio side of things is just as bad. Both Silent Hill 2 and 3 star a brand new cast of voice actors - the original voices are only available as a choice in Silent Hill 2. While the new performances are of fairly good quality, they also come with various glitches that could potentially be distracting for some. The audio is often out of sync, the music sometimes fails to play, and certain creepy moments from the original games are even ruined by these issues.
One of the most sought-after features of such compilations is added value. For 40 dollars, players are usually able to replay an entire series, and sometimes even get extra content. This time, questionable decisions have been made by Konami. Strangely absent from this collection are the original PSOne classic and the fourth installment - The Room. These omissions are disappointing, considering that they are both very important games from the original Silent Hill developer. Furthermore, the only extra content available (apart from the new voice tracks) is the inclusion of a bonus side story that was already present in the Xbox version of Silent Hill 2.
After the excellent Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Silent Hill fans definitely deserved a much better adaptation of some of their favorite games. With embarrassing glitches, problems that should have never made their way into the games, and a disappointing lack of content, it’s hard for me to recommend this release. While the titles themselves are extremely worthwhile, it would be a better idea to dust off your old PS2 and find copies of the originals rather than overpay for a (very) flawed HD compilation.
Release date : 2012-03-23
Publisher : Konami
Developer : Konami
Gameplay : Survival Horror
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