Following on from the recent trend of regurgitating old classics on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in high definition, Konami is getting in on the act once more, after the success of its Metal Gear Solid package. However, rather than including a large selection for Silent Hill: HD Collection, this ‘new’ visually updated bundle simply consists of Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears and Silent Hill 3.
The series is often compared to Resident Evil, mainly because they both include some crazy creatures attempting to slaughter the main character. However, Silent Hill has always been somewhat edgier than Capcom’s series, with the story and atmosphere going from moderately odd, to downright off-the-wall crazy as the sequels emerged, before things started to be reeled back in once more, ever so slightly. Therefore, whilst certain gamers are clamouring over the newest rendition, Silent Hill Downpour, many more are actually lusting after these HD masters of the earlier, almost purer releases, looking back with fond memories and a whole heap of nostalgia.
However, when removing those rose-tinted spectacles, what is left is two classic ideas, with superb direction and scares aplenty, yet both are full of antiquated control systems, ageing gameplay that has been surpassed by more recent games, and a whole host of horribly dated sound effects and visuals that really do not look very impressive even with a high definition spruce up. Thankfully the puzzle and story elements help hold the old titles together, but the craziness of some proceedings is definitely off the charts at times, especially in Silent Hill 3, and it is definitely only suited to a particular palate. The updated soundtrack proves to be a saving grace, though, creating a strong haunting ambience throughout, solidifying the already eerie atmosphere of the overall setting.
James Sunderland is back in Silent Hill 2, where he finds himself returning to the mysterious fog-filled town, endlessly wandering the streets in search of his dead wife, convinced he may have the chance to see her once more, yet becoming plagued by nightmares manifested from his own guilt-ridden mind. As for Silent Hill 3, the tale is a direct sequel to the first game in the series and revolves around Harry Mason’s daughter, Heather, who becomes embroiled in evil doings related to a demonic cult and some rather insane otherworldly shenanigans, including the proposed birth of a new god. The difference? Now they can be experienced in HD at 720p for the first time, as well as coming with the choice of the original voice work or new in-game voices that sadly have that awkward feel of definitely sounding a little out of place, rather like how the new additions on Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director’s Cut) juxtaposed unfavourably to the originals, except this time it is worse as the lip syncing is totally off in places, as is the subtitling. Whilst in Silent Hill 2 there is the option of old or new, Silent Hill 3 is fresh voices only.
One does have to wonder why Konami chose to only bring two games out of the long-running series, despite the recent Metal Gear Solid offering serving up a dish full of goodies. Anyone seeing the word Collection in the title would be forgiven for feeling short-changed upon realising there is actually only a couple of entries in tow. They would also be absolved of any guilt for being somewhat aggrieved at the fact that despite the claims of ‘re-mastering,’ the only moderately interesting augmentation is in fact the integration of Sony Entertainment Network Trophies and Xbox Achievements, adding an intriguing achievements feel to the proceedings! Why Silent Hill 4, Origins, Shattered Memories or even the PlayStation 3’s Homecoming were excluded is highly perplexing.
Whatever the case, despite feeling like a cheap cash-in, and a real rush-job, Silent Hill HD Collection is still well worth the entry fee for anyone wanting to sample the earlier entries into the series yet not wishing to hunt down and fork out for the individual PlayStation 2 releases. Long-term followers, however, expecting something special will definitely leave disappointed.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Platform: PS3/ Xbox 360 Release Date: 30/03/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Silent Hill: HD Collection by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.