Moz's back with another guest review, so let's hear what she thought of Silent Hill 3 on the PS2!
When the original Silent Hill was released on the PSX in 1999 it caused quite a lot of controversy. The dark, deeply disturbing gameplay and horrific visual effects were quite different to any other game that was on the market at the time. Here was a game that was aimed at the adult market and a lot of parents were surprised that it had only been given a 15 certificate and not 18- and the game itself lived up to the hype - it was simply brilliant. So in 2001 when the second instalment was released on the new improved Sony gaming system the Playstation 2, I couldn't wait t get my hands on a copy - I was a bit disappointed. For me personally Silent Hill 2 seemed to have lost its edge. Whether Konami had responded to the controversy of the original Silent Hill and toned down the aesthetics to appease concerned parents, I don't know - but Silent Hill 2 was not a patch on the original game. Now the most terrifying holiday resort Silent Hill has opened its doors once again to the public for the new holiday season on the Playstation 2. But does the third instalment of this psychological survival horror series have anything more to offer than its previous outings....?
You play the game as a new character, a 17 year old girl named Heather on a trip to her local shopping mall. However as soon as the opening credits have ended you find yourself plunged straight into the alternative nightmare world of Silent Hills Amusement Park, with it's characteristic mutilated bodies and deeply disturbing surroundings and blood curdling screams. (I would suggest that to get the best out of the game you change the setting for the duel shock controller at the title screen from "normal" to "hard". Lets just say it gives the game an extra element of "surprise"). Heather is forced to fight strange, grotesque creatures on her way through this and macabre world before she can finally piece together the solution to the mystery of Silent Hill.
The gameplay of Silent Hill 3 is typical of any other survival horror title, you solve the puzzles and beat the "bosses" to gain access to previously hidden or inaccessible areas and a storyline that culminates to the final explanatory scenario. Also anyone that has played either of the previous two Silent Hill titles will find some of the locations and buildings very familiar as some of the previous locations are revisited however their are also some new locations to explore such are the underground railway station which gives the game a new twist. But this incarnation is better, much, much better than it's predecessors.....
As with the previous Silent Hill titles, Silent Hill 3 exists in two parallel worlds, either the ''normal'' world or the ''evil'' world. The "normal" world is generally bleak, eerie and uninhabited with its fare share of monsters and surprises, however at various key moments throughout the game the surroundings change to the "evil" world. The surroundings are much more sinister, the monsters more abundant and disturbing. To explore each building thoroughly you will need to find a floor map. These show locations of various rooms, lifts, stairs etc. Your progress is marked on the maps ie locked/accessible doors, and key areas (such as a puzzle/riddle that needs solving) will also be highlighted. When it appears that you have visited all the areas/rooms in the "normal" world when it "flips" to the "evil" world the map becomes blank and all areas will need to be re-explored. With the duel shock controller set on "hard" visiting the "evil" world is a very scary experience. Where a room was previously empty it could now be full of monsters causing the controller to vibrate as your heart pounds at the possibility of an unexpected attack. On other occasions shouts, screams and banging makes you believe that something is about to happen at any time, but it never does, with Silent Hill 3 you just never know and it is this unpredictability that keeps you on the edge of your seat and puts this game in a league of its own.
At the title screen at the beginning of the game you are given the opportunity to select your preferred difficulty mode. This has been broken down into two parts your therefore have the choice of deciding how you want to play the game. If for example you are more of a fighter than a thinker you can set the difficult level for battles on "hard" and the puzzle difficulty to "easy". There are also a number of other choices that can be made at the title screen to tailor Silent Hill 3 to your specific survival horror preferences, another nice touch I've already mentioned is how "hard" or "soft" you want the duel shock controller to vibrate (personally I recommend "hard" because when you least expect it, it will make you jump out of your seat...). Also, if after fighting the first boss you die another option becomes available on screen, it's the chance to play at beginner level, which makes defeating "bosses" easier still. However if you choose this option then it will make a difference to the final scenario of the game.
The game itself is rather short, but don't let that put you off. It's a game that can be played more than once as there is more than one ending available. The ending is governed by the options decisions that you take throughout the game. After completion you are given the opportunity to change Heathers costume and various other weaponry becomes available within the game (..come on who wouldn't want the opportunity to decapitate a mutilated corpse with a light sabre...?? I know I do!!)
The controls are straight forward and relatively easy to get to grips with once you have mastered the left directional analogue stick. (To begin with, trying to get Heather to face and walk in the direction that you want can be a little frustrating, but after a short time this isn't an issue). Saving the game can only be done at certain locations during the game. I would recommend saving the game regularly and especially if you have just completed a puzzle or defeated a boss. You don't have to be a member of MENSA to solve the puzzles in the game, however I will admit having difficulty the first time round getting the train to stop in the subway, I found myself and throwing Heather on the tracks in desperation (but then I'm easily baffled and just a little sadistic- no comments please Ed!!).
The graphics are some of the best I have seen for this genre of game and the lighting and shadows create a world that is horrific, macabre and yet strangely beautiful in parts. The sound in Silent Hill 3 forms an integral part of the game. At it times the screeching music, hellish screams and nightmare surroundings build until your heart is racing and you find yourself starting to panic... and running for the exits. This game is definitely NOT for the feint hearted but if you are a bit of a wus and jump at the sight of your own shadow maybe you should consider playing this game while seated on a rubber sheet - after all you don't want to be staining the furniture do you!!!