Played on: PS3
Played for: Around 15 hours to complete both SH2 and SH3.
March is Silent Hill Month and, as promised, the HD collection has been beaten to death by Niad and I and is ready to be reviewed. Containing remastered versions of both the 2nd and 3rd installment, it suffered a pretty poor reception from PS3 users thanks to terrible framerate and voice dubbing issues. Thankfully, Konami stepped up to the plate immediately and issued a patch within 24 hours to fix the problems.. but did it work?
Personally, the patch did nothing to fix the issues for our copy. The first 30 minutes of Silent Hill 3 still has awful voice dubbing delay, as does the last hour or so, and Silent Hill 2 had voice dubbing issues throughout the entire game prior to the patch. We also experienced a metric crap-ton of lag whenever we had to run outside in the fog in SH3, which is surprising since the fog effects in 2 were much more emphasized and had zero problems. We thought that it was our body armor (since it does slow you down) but still noticed a ridiculous amount of lag when we unequipped it.
Issues and patches aside, Silent Hill HD Collection contains the complete release of the 2nd installment (the version released for Xbox in 2001 and re-released as a Directors Cut for the PS2 in 2002 that contained the original game scenario, “Letter from Silent Heaven”, and a playable chapter where you control Maria, entitled “Born From a Wish”.) with both new and classic voice acting. Unfortunately, Silent Hill 3 only offers the new voice acting from what I believe to be a dispute between Konami and the original voice actors over royalty payments, but don’t quote me on that.
The new voice acting is pretty solid in both games, but Silent Hill purists might have a hard time accepting change in SH3 where the option to play with the old voice actors is completely missing. Niad is completely obsessed with 3 – It’s her favorite in the series and she’s beaten it numerous times on her own- and even she thought the new voice acting was done pretty well. Silent Hill 2 is my personal favorite and I didn’t mind the new voices at all, I just wished the dubbing synched with the characters in game.
Graphically, Konami did a decent job with the HD Collection for Silent Hill when it came down to re-texturing some of the older models, but smoothing out the iconic fog in SH2 displayed many portions of the game that were never finished. Both games aged well but having them both remastered in HD is a mixed bag. Things you couldn’t see before are much clearer now (which isn’t always for the better) but some players disagree with the remastering thinking that it takes away from the “grainy” feel of the games, dropping their scare factor or muting some of the textures. While you can definitely see the difference in lighting and color-muting side-by-side, and the smoothed textures in 2 definitely show off some parts of the game that were incomplete before, it was still fun to see how both games held up 10 years later. Cutscenes were also stretched to format which leads to some foggy CG in SH2 (much like the cutscenes were in the HD Collection for God of War), which is a bummer, but kind of expected.
Both games still play exactly the same, offering the standard 3D “tank controls” or switching to a 2D version where you move in whichever direction you tilt the left analog stick. After all of these years I never even knew that they offered a 2D option until Niad pointed it out in the menu and then laughed because I suffered through tank controls for all these years! We definitely preferred the 2D controls, which made it much easier to navigate rooms, as well as dodge and attack monsters, but again, some other players prefer to stick with the 3D controls because it keeps the camera steady (rather than jerking around in tight spaces) and stayed “true” to the survival horror games of old (because they all controlled like shit, I guess), but both options are there for you.
Trophy support is also there for both games, combining a mix of “unlock ending A”, finding rare items in SH2 and defeating bosses in SH3 within a certain amount of time. I think the trophy list for 2 was pretty lackluster since 3 included more story-based achievements, but both offer a ton of replay value to give you more bang for your buck. Some trophies are pretty easy, such as killing 75 enemies with melee weapons in SH3, to completing each game saving two times (or less) or beating them in less than 3 hours. These were all things you had to do for 10 star ratings in the originals, just broken down in to separate trophies, but you’re no longer forced to do them all in one run.
Another problem I have with the HD Collection is that it should have included Silent Hill 4: The Room or could have included the original Silent Hill as an on-disc extra since I paid full price for only 2 games. God of War is the only other series to release an HD Collection that only contained two games and I have the same complaint about Konami releasing Zone of Enders HD and not including any port for Zone of Enders: The Fist of Mars which originally came out on the GBA and is an extremely small file. While I loved Silent Hill 2 and 3, and agree they are the landmark releases for the series, the Silent Hill HD Collection was delayed for 5 months and they could have easily had 4 put on the disc. Hell, I would have even accepted a half-assed version like Capcom did for Resident Evil 4 HD and Code Veronica X. Either way, I won’t hold that against the game since it’s what is missing, not what is wrong, so the overall verdict won’t put that in to consideration.
The Verdict – D+
Overall, the HD Collection is plagued with issues at its release for PS3 but still contains remasters for two of the best survival horror games in history. It’s also a great starting point for anyone interested in Downpour but wants to experience the entire story first. If you’re in this position, I highly recommend playing the original before picking up the HD Collection since 1 and 3 are completely connected. Both games have excellent soundtracks courtesy of Akira Yamaoka, and also have tons of replay value, but the half-assed product I purchased in the end was a slap in the face to a long time fan. I can’t really recommend this to any fan of the series with the copious amounts voice lag, incomplete textures and murky cutscenes. If you already own the previous versions on PS2 or Xbox and aren’t impressed by the comparison screenshots shown in the two articles linked above, you might want to pass on this one.