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SummaryWith the heart of Silent Hill saga.
The GoodI don't have the preference due to main character, but seeing a woman selected always makes my heart pound just a little bit faster. In this game, you control 17 year old girl called Heather. She somehow fell into the abyss of looping nightmares which couldn't be accepted to her mind nor understood. Using synthesis of normal but empty and alternate but disgusting worlds, Konami once again shifted us players back at the steering wheel of our very survival.
Characters are as very few as usually, but nicely selected for the plotline. They aren't as mysterious as those of Silent Hill 1 where you could barely find out who's who and what does each of them want, but nor do they own a deep root of storywriter's explanation of their background with such perfection as the characters of Silent Hill 2 had. It's a balance. It's a balance that is nicely established and equally nice elaborated as you're unraveling the very end.
What's so great about sequels and what I always loved about them are few things actually. First that you may have encountered recurring characters (not much luck about it here, but not very far from it either), and secondly, you travel through some well known areas. Hence, you will go through the amusement park, familiar looking sewers, church, and certain rooms you encountered in the original Silent Hill game, and later in the game you'll visit the same old foggy and eerie town of Silent Hill, Heaven's Night, and Hospital which you got familiar with if you've played Silent Hill 2.
This is so to say almost literal sequel to original Silent Hill which will tell and explain you everything blurry that you were with after finishing original Silent Hill. The story happens 17 years after the incident in Silent Hill when Harry (our male protagonist of SH1) went searching for his daughter, Cheryl... and found her, just not the way we thoght he might've. Think logically about Heather in SH3 and you may be able to assemble some spoiler picture, but only if you've finished original Silent Hill game and know what happened there.
One of the finest touches that aides this new Silent Hill unlike the others is humor level Konami decided to include in the game. It's really great, and aboveall unexpected. For example when you're in some WC and there's some disgusting thing in a toilet and you can choose whether Heather will dig in with her hand to find something or not, and if you choose yes, she will just turn to player and say something like "whoever may be so twisted to even think of such thing in a game". Or here's one of the greatest jokes I've seen in a game (never in a horror-survival though, which makes it even better), it happens near the very sole end, after you have final boss battle. You see Heather approaching her wounded detective friend sitting on the bench, and as he notices her he asks "Heather! Is it really over?" and she coldly replies "Not yet.... You're still alive." as she liftens her knife gripping it in her hands as approaching the detective. Shitlessly scared detective barely mummbles something like "Heather, what the..." just before she says "Boo!" and starts laughing saying "Just a joke." to which he gasps in relief "You've got terrible taste.", hehe, man that was like almost the best part in the game. For the fact it was really convincing, you couldn't know whatever gotten in he mind ;) Don't worry fellas, for whoever just read this, this ain't no spoiler, the real one is before and moment after this scene, but not this scene itself. This one was just nicely included humorous hex.
Kudos goes to songs which now are at least three with vocals (three that I've noticed, maybe there're four). These you can find only in opening trailer and/or cinematics, but really suit their place more than well. As for the ingame soundtrack, there isn't any... correction, there isn't any while you're alone, but as soon as your radio starts emitting static and monsters get closer, some music which sounds almost like the monsters itself starts, which can sometimes be troublesome 'cos you dunno if it's monster you're hearing or the music itself. It can deorient you sometimes, but you can always take it as if that was the intention. But of course, you can always turn it off if neccessary.
Also, you can try some extra options, some of which I've seen to be in Silent Hill 2 as well, such as blood color, or blood amount shown on screen, but also some neat ones that I don't remember from the predecessor, such as being able to turn on/off the noise or sharpen the whole picture. For those who want to decrease the atmosphere and make the game look more like some other horror-survival with clear picture, they've been given that choice now. But playing in noise is what makes it so great and atmospheric.
I've finished the game on something over 6 hours, without walkthroughs whatsoever puzzle-wise (yup, I'm proud to say so), but that isn't a bad point of the game. No way, as I was approaching ending, I just wanted to finally reach it sooner and sooner and to get this thing done with, I was anxious to see the final unraveling of the story, and I assure you, this game is big enough to explore, maybe bigger than the previous two, but it has the potential to be finished within a one very well planned sleepless day. So it may be short according to time your PS2 will eventually give you, but it ain't. My playing time was like 12 hours or more, so beats me how the console showed me just 6.
A word about gameplay itself - it rocks! It is very similar to that of SH2, but you get a feeling like nothing is going slow, whereas in SH2 I constantly had a feeling something's dragging all the time. Well, this game isn't. It'll move as swiftly as you turn your steering buttons on your gamepad. Nice ingame touch is that Heather can fall off any edge so be careful walking near the end. Of course, she won't fall immediately, you'll have time to save he as she'll swing for a short time. On easy mode, however, that is very unlikely 'cos you can't fall even if you'd want to.
The BadWell, monsters are kinda... clichéd. There are some hounds, and nurses we saw in SH2 which seem fine for their place, but many other are kinda... well, not so imaginative as I found those really marvelously designed in SH2 (piramid head or jacket monsters). These monsters here are just an ordinary monsters which doesn't create any different feeling but what would create such monster encountered in a Turrican or Shadow of the Beast platform games. Those in original SH1 were sort of animalish, whereas those in SH2 clearly has a psychical impact on you, whereas these from SH3, I dunno, just as if they took some from RE some from AITD and some form their previous SH games, and added them in this game. I'm not saying I know what kinda monsters would suit this game better, I'm just saying SH1 and SH2 had both better thought monsters and bosses. These are sort of repetitive and unoriginal.
The Bottom LineThe bottomline is, Konami entered the world of horror-survival fairly new, only in 1999 which is like six years behind the schedule, yet it climbed up to the very throne already with their second installment. They don't make as much Silent Hill games (just look at Capcom and their market with at least 2 Resident Evil games per year, which I find good nonetheless, but making all the remakes or unimaginative sequels, tsk tsk tsk, or moving to first-person perspective... tsk tsk tsk, just ruining the genre, which stops being horror-survival and becomes first-person shooter only of a horror style), but when they do one, you can be certain of two things - you'll love it, and you'll appreaciate the work it underwent through.
Needless to say, I can't wait to see what the fourth one will be about. Especially story-wise, now that SH3 raised my interest in the plot much above the ground level. One recommendation though, this game uncovers lots of the original one, even explains the very ending of it, so it would be better if you'd start with SH1 prior to playing this one, or this one's story may seem kinda unknown.