Over the years, there have been many video games that have caught my interest but have never really gotten around to playing. Some reasons are because they were an exclusive title on a console that I didn’t have, or I was deemed too young to play a potentially indecent game by my doting parents. One of the video game franchises that I’ve been eager to immerse myself in for quite a while was the Silent Hill franchise. I do remember watching one of my friends play Silent Hill 2, 3, and 4 on the PS2 back when I was still in elementary school, but I was too scared to try it out whenever he asked me if I wanted a turn. I do feel sort of embarrassed telling you guys that, I missed out on a great opportunity to experience some landmark titles in the horror genre.
Margethelarge. Top of the Food Chain: Silent Hill vs. Silent Hill 2. Digital image. Marge T. Large Reviews. WordPress, 23 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
After quickly perusing through Amazon, I decided to pick up a used copy of the Silent Hill HD Collection for the Xbox 360 version since most sellers were giving it away for under 20 dollars. At the time, I thought it was a steal, I’d finally get the chance to play some critically acclaimed titles at a fairly cheap price. But boy, oh boy, do I sure regret declining my friend’s offer.
One of the first glaring omissions that really had me crawling in my skin was that it only came with the 2nd and third installments in this so called “Collection”. I can forgive Konami for not including the first Silent Hill game since doing an HD remaster of a PS1 title probably wouldn’t turn out well, but leaving out Silent Hill 4: The Room is a bit disappointing since I was eager to play that particular game. But after taking the time to actually play the games, I realized that this was the least of my concerns since it only goes downhill from here.
UndergroundReality. Silent Hill HD Collection: One of the Worst Games Ever Made? Digital image. Underground-reality. Blogspot, 26 May 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
Just a couple of minutes into my first playthrough of Silent Hill 2, I was already shaking my head in disapproval. The new and “visually enhanced” visuals look garish and unsightly compared to the original version. Frame-rates would noticeably dip during the more hectic moments, which was never an issue on the PS2. Some of the environments look too clean and polished when they’re supposed to have a gritty and dilapidated appearance. Another complaint I have is with the brightness (or lack of one). Even at the highest brightness setting, the game is way too dark, which ultimately makes navigating the indoor sections incredibly frustrating. That’s not all, the fog which originally brought a sense of crippling claustrophobia and unbridled fear whenever you traversed the outdoor sections of Silent Hill 2, is butchered beyond belief. This ends up breaking the feeling of immersion you have with the game, and makes you aware of all the technical and visual shortcomings that you weren’t meant to see as a player.
Melendez, CJ. Silent Hill: HD Collection Screens Rise Up; First Look at Silent Hill 3. Digital image. Rely on Horror. Rely on Horror, 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
Unfortunately, my disdainful comments don’t stop there. Audio issues are present in both Silent Hill 2 and 3. Sometimes a track or a brief sound bite might stutter and make a weird crackling sound, there are moments where it will loop repeatedly at any given moment, and sometimes the music won’t even bother to play altogether. There were even many instances in Silent Hill 2 where James would be standing completely still, but the sound of him walking around would be still playing. It amazes me how the Quality Assurance team for these games allowed these noticeable bugs and glitches to remain on the retail versions, what the hell were they thinking!?!
On a positive note, the sequel doesn’t look quite as bad. Since Silent 3 is a slightly newer game, I’m assuming that Hijinx Studios had an easier time with porting this title. Fog isn’t utilized nearly as much and this title has a more varied color palette compared to Silent Hill 2, so the details actually look pretty nice in my opinion.
King, Emily. [Pile of Shame] Silent Hill 3. Digital image. Hexdimension. The Hex Dimension, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
Another facet of this HD Collection that I want to address is the new voice acting. Silent Hill 2 presents you with the option to play the game with the new voices, or to stick with the original. After comparing the voice actors side-to-side, I was pretty underwhelmed. The new voice actor for James, Troy Baker, does an adequate job but doesn’t quite fit James as a character since he sounds a bit too composed. While Guy Cihi’s interpretation in the original clearly gives you the impression that James is slightly unhinged, in a state of grief, and mentally unstable. While for most of the other characters, they either came off as underdelivered (Angela) or just completely sound out of character (Eddie). But since you have the option to use the old voice actors in Silent Hill 2, I wasn’t too upset.
Manger, Joss, and Matt Bailey. Silent Hill 3 Review. Digital image. Allaboutgames.co.uk. Allaboutgames.co.uk, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
In Silent Hill 3 however, you are only given the option to play the game with the new voice actors, which I found to be even worse than the ones integrated in Silent Hill 2. Detective Douglas now sounds like one of the characters from South Park, and Heather literally sounds like someone in their late 30’s doing a (very poor) impersonation of a young teenager. Another thing I hated about the voice work for Silent Hill 3 is that they made some creative changes to the script in some cut-scenes, but didn’t even bother to change the wording of the subtitles to acknowledge the alterations in dialogue. This is not only a display of utter laziness, but also a complete bastardization and a lack of respect for Teams Silent’s original intent and vision of the story.
When I first held this HD Collection in my hands, I thought that I’d be babbling on about how much I loved these titles since I did have fond memories of watching a childhood friend of mine play these games. But sometimes your best fantasies don’t always align with reality. This was an abhorrent and carelessly done port that never should’ve seen the light of day. If you ever do feel the urge to play either of these games, just hunt for the PS2 or Xbox versions, avoid the HD Collection at all costs.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope I didn’t come off as too cynical. If you’ve played any Silent Hill games in the past, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And what are your favorite horror video games? Have a great day, fellow inklings. Stay fresh!