Written by  :  Cronos (4)
Written on  :  Dec 10, 2003
Platform  :  Windows

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Back in town

The Good

For those who have some familiarity with the precedent Silent Hill series, this third installment is just like a walk in a known territory, only to discover this territory VERY upgraded with relentless fear factor turned up on max. If you were a previous vacationist in Silent Hill (namely SH2), coming back this vacation should feel like exactly like if you never left. So, has it been that long? The concept of this game is now up to date with the new graphic technology available. In character build, Konami tried to make this experience a bit less lonely than in SH2. Not that is a Swat-based game, though. You'll have the chance to meet some un-un-unusual types along the way, with their own agenda. You probably wouldn't miss chasing blonde little girl-brats around town, like in the previous game.

The monster concepts kept the psycho frantic head-shaking tortured appearance, looking like they were straight out of Adrian Lyne's motion picture "Jacob's Ladder". Actually there are more to this "climbing down Jacob's ladder" metaphor than only in the creatures. The whole approach of the game presents (or continues) the concept of the "Otherworld", with a lot of stairs and elevators-to-Hell and, of course, ladders. And when you see the Otherworld taking over, you can get to witness bucolic locations turning from "zombish" abandoned look, to utterly satanic with a little twist of religion on the side. The monster art again brings the deviant deformations of existing creatures, using mostly human figure to increase terror when you look at them, giving you the distinct impression that some monsters were (are?) human once.

The game design, as most aspects of the game, is more-of-the-same with map-based exploring, checking out locked or opened rooms, looking for keys and figuring out some puzzles that vary from "Dumb" to "Einstein", including an interesting Shakespearian book puzzle. The main props are all the same. You get to have the sam'ol radio and the good'ol pocket flashlight, and the guns are mainly the same also (9 mm, shotgun), except for introduction of a katana sword, with a lot of damage points (yes, you actually can defeat a boss with it), and a huge maul that is very hard to use. In the replay mode you find a submachine gun in the inventory, but is more to make a cathartic effect. Many times in this game you WILL say "MY, oh my. if only I have a machine-gun..."

Graphically speaking, looks like Konami is using the same Capcom quality especially in human skin figures. You can actually see the expression/emotion face lines even from a distance. I'm talking in-game here, guys. Not only in cinematics. The set design is more or less the same, although is less grainy than in SH2, but the human characters gained more skin texture making Konami turn to Vertex/pixel shader technology that is available only in Geforce4 Ti, GeforceFX and Ati Radeon graphic cards. That is the issue that no doubt is the most question-raising in the game. Even the demo in early November already announced. Some say this demo was really a scared warning from Konami that really didn't know how gamers would react to it.

The sound in SH3 is suitable for those with a big sound rig at home with any sound card that supports Live 5.1 audio. The voice acts are not Oscar worth except for the Heather’s voice actress that really delivers even when she dies, screams or cries. The detective’s voice should have been my father’s. And he’s not an actor. The role of Claudia, despite the fact she’s a true carbon-copy of Cate Blanchett’s “Galadriel”, is fairly voice acted. But the true triumph in SH3 is the sound effects and ambient music (?). It boosts up to orbit the fear factor. Is like in a David Lynch’s twisted backward played opera, using human organs for instruments.

The Bad

Watch spoilers ahead! The storyline is unfortunately one downer in SH3. Then again is not that of a big downer. Is just doesn’t keep up to the other Silent Hill games. The Demon possession-based with New Order Satanists trying to bring the Paradise plot is not really the most inspired background. Even so the game actually does not start in Silent Hill, so there is another town with the same curse that has relation with the curse in Silent Hill? Is confusing. But this is background only. The way this story develops throughout the game, unfolds a gruesome sheet of subplots that smoke-screens the uninspired storyline a bit anyway.

The Bottom Line

Silent Hill 3 is definitely the most gruesome, dark satanic game to the date. Make no mistakes; it WILL chill you to the bone. Expect human slaughter houses, torture chambers, ornaments made with human parts, child-mummification, evisceration, amputations, driven to both Silent Hill and Resident Evil gamer. No similarities between these two games involved. The game is a slow-paced work of gothic art with the wit of the occult. Not a futuristic-weapon loving trained chick fighting science aberrations. This is to say that SH3 and Resident Evil are alike, but different, and will please the same kind of gamer that is looking for plain fear.