Friday, October 26, 2012

Silent Hill 3

Remember how I said that the ending of the original Silent Hill didn't make any sense?  Clearly I wasn't alone in that feeling.  After trying to take the series in a slightly different direction in Silent Hill 2, Konami decided to try to clear up the original story a bit in Silent Hill 3.  I'm not sure that we needed an entire game to explain these events, but regardless it's what we got.

Silent Hill 3 is notable for having the series only female protagonist.  Her name is Heather Mason, and she's  the baby that Harry carried off at the end of Silent Hill, assuming you got one of the good endings.  She's 17 now, and her mannerisms reflect that.  As I would inspect things around the room, she would frequently tell me in very wordy terms that she wasn't interested in it or that it didn't look important.  In some ways that's a nice change of pace from the more blunt messages Harry and James used to tell me, but it also got a little annoying after a while.  Fortunately you have the option to walk away after the first line of dialogue if you get tired of her ramblings.  She's also extra rude to nearly everyone she runs into in the game, whether they deserve it or not.

I played the game on normal puzzle difficulty and easy combat yet again.  I only really had trouble with monsters when multiple types would swarm at me, or when a boss had a particular trick to him that made it more of a challenge.  But one of the bosses, Leonard, was just too easy.  I knocked him over once with a shotgun blast and went over to him and started kicking him.  He flailed about but never got back up again.  It was kind of pathetic.  The puzzles on the other hand were pretty appropriately challenging.

I liked that this game relied heavily on sounds to scare you.  While a lot of the monsters don't really look all that frightening, they make horrible noises.  The sounds of them moaning and crying through the halls put me on edge and while there was a degree of desensitization, it seemed to take a lot longer than in the other games.  There are also a fair amount of enemies that you're much better off running away from than trying to kill, which adds its own unique challenge as you try to explore the hallways and avoid them at the same time.  I also noticed this game tricks you a lot, making you enter a room that has no real purpose other than that there's an enemy inside waiting to ambush you.  It's a fairly cheap trick, but it felt appropriate for a survival horror game anyway.  What didn't feel quite so appropriate was the strange mix of weapons Heather finds upon her way.  I hate to complain about the katana, which is is a much better hand to hand weapon than the pipe I'm normally forced to use, but why would one of those just be laying around in an office building for me to pick up?

I also think I understand why Silent Hill 2 and 3 were included together in the HD Collection, beyond them being the first two PS2 releases.  The layout of the town is identical, as is the look of the hospital and the night club.  In the original release of Silent Hill 3, if you had a save state for Silent Hill 2 on your memory card, it would unlock short FMVs that were references to that game.  Those are also included on this disc,  though I'm not sure if a save state for SH2 is required or not.  But it was funny to see Heather refuse to stick her hand inside a stopped up toilet asking "Who would ever do that?" when I knew the answer was James Sunderland.  It was also nice to see a few locations from the first game presented with updated graphics.

People have complained that the HD Collection has it's problems, and I encountered some myself during the final level of the game.  It locked up on me twice.  Once was right after a save point, but the other wasted a good ten to fifteen minutes of gameplay.  And I'm playing the PS3 version; from what I've heard the 360 version is worse.  Just something to be aware of if you're debating on what version to purchase.

As far as the story of the game, I think it does a good job finishing up what was established in the first one.  I found myself really wondering just how it was going to end, not sure if Heather could truly come out of this okay given the position she was in. It's a decent ending and also one of the grossest things I've ever seen happen in a video game. The final boss is very creepy looking too. After my experience with the previous games, I was also waiting to see what kind of choices would be available that would dictate my ending.  There was only one choice that I'm aware of, and it turns out it is completely irrelevant on your first playthrough.  I suppose the reason they changed this is so that a player will always see the canon ending even if they only play it once, but personally there just wasn't enough here to make me play it again, even though they gave me a new costume and two new weapons when I was finished.  It's not a bad game by any means, but it does pale in comparison to the first two games.

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