Rerun Review: If I were a girl, what would my response be to this game? Oh wait I know, "AAAAAHHHHHHH!"
You trick me into thinking you're nearby. You know my weaknesses when I have yet to discover yours. You see me, but I can't see you. You are many and I am one. You are strong and I am weak. You make my forehead get a little wetter. You make my hair stand a little higher. You make my body temperature a little colder. You are fear, and you are inevitable. Ever since the scare-fest trend exploded into gaming through the late 90's when Capcom unleashed the arguable granddaddy of all that are horror adventures, Resident Evil, it had become a stiff challenge to top such a shockingly grotesque franchise for those companies that tried. Then 1999 came, and Konami stepped into the ring with a little known classic we call today as Silent Hill. Not only was Konami's psychological masterpiece at the top of the charts, staged as one of the scariest games known to humans, but Silent Hill quickly evolved into one of the only few attempts close enough to competing against the likes of Capcom's Resident Evil. And yet, Silent Hill doesn't have as many separate sequels as its rival, or any spinoffs, or really anything that makes it more than the freakish game that is. But with the town of Silent Hill remaining dormant under its arcane cloud, there's still plenty of nuances able to jump into the mix: and so Konami does, in its latest gut wrenching, eyeball popping, finger trembling storyline that's certain to cause reason for why many more gamers are stocking up on a daily supply of light bulbs.
Life has its share of unexpected moments. For Heather, she'll soon discover what this means. A teenager like any other, Heather is just the every day, ordinary person of today...with an unordinary past she can't seem to recall. Heather never asked for her casual and carefree life. It was given to her. Now it's about to be threatened. When Heather's path crosses with an obscure detective who seems to know everything about her, a world unlike her own will emerge right in front of her eyes. No one will be there to save her. No one is going to help her. Heather is alone in this dark and morbid limbo, and the only way to survive is to struggle with it. Silent Hill has found Heather, and Heather must now escape this diseased place before it becomes the end of her.
What if you were trapped in a living, breathing monster-infested hell? All of a sudden the worst sights, sounds, smells, touches, and I bet you even tastes started to develop itself the faster you try to evade its buildup. This is what playing Silent Hill 3 is like: a world where fear is everything and the only one who can try to stop this madness is the meaty, red-blooded human (a.k.a. you). Like its predecessors, Silent Hill 3 is all about solving riddles that block your path, and defeating the putrid monstrosities that try to plug a cork on your very life. It's only sad to see that Silent Hill 3's collection of riddles is really not much more than a group of fetch quests. You find the item, and then you can access the door. Simple, huh? On the other hand, if you think you know the creatures of Silent Hill, you're in for a surprise. These things are different. Bigger, bulgier, and more butt ugly than ever before, Silent Hill 3's miscreations range in all different shapes in sizes. Walking eyeballs, two headed hounds, enormous bald freaks of nature, and even large, skin wrapped, and double club fisted mutants frequent the list of the many uglies populating this upside down dimension.
Of course, eliminating Silent Hill 3's freaky freaks is no easy matter. You can't be all like, "I am the butcher, the baker, and the candle stick maker -- and you are all toast!" That's not how one lives through the terror that is Silent Hill 3 -- especially considering the short limit of how many boxes of bullets and medical instruments you'll find lying in your journey forward. To make up for the confines of supplies there is, Konami fortunately lets players now distract the many gnarling fiends with the aid of a new beef jerky item, by chance letting you run away instead of wasting hot lead. Though the jerky can be handy, it's not always effective...meaning the best solution to any problem are Silent Hill 3's assembly of weapon types. Albeit guns -- which range from the ever popular handgun and shotgun to the newly added sub machine gun -- are better often used in their precision and range advantages, there again exist a variety of melee weapons to dish out defeat in whatever doesn't look human. Trying tools such as a dagger, a steel pipe, and even a katana on for size, Heather is able to make the most out of battling beasts in whether she has ammo on her or not -- but, it's still easier when you do.
Something else that's changed Konami's Silent Hill 3 sequel (in a big way) is that you're no longer restricted to the ins and outs of the town itself -- instead, Heather starts out inside a mall, making her way through alternating locales including a subway, a construction site, a carnival, and once more inside the town of deathly design, Silent Hill -- even though reaching the town won't come to pass until a much later period in the game. Change can either be for the better or worse, with the latter affecting the game's layout more so in level design. See, in the previous stories, exploring through a fog enshrined town immediately left open the possibility for really anything to come out of the wood work and make your heart skip to a faster beat. Now the game feels as if it's sized down, so that most of the time when you're killing off different monsters through the first half of the game, you're left to enclosed arenas, which aren't with blinding cloud or that many vile enemies to ravage. The end results: Silent Hill 3 tends to cheapen its scare factor down a notch throughout a good portion of the adventure, unfortunately.
Horror addicts know the quickest way to a demon's heart is in using a stabbing weapon, or a gun of some sort, or possibly a level nine spell. Though, Silent Hill 3 doesn't have that sort of thing. But what it does have are the weapons and the character to control their actions. Akin to most horror games, Heather's abilities to walk, run, turn around, shoot, swing, or block, and others come with the price of having to adapt to the scheme of things within maybe up to half an hour of time. Once you do get the hang of using Heather however, the game seems to fly right by in areas where Heather can attack (R2 + X), strafe (L1 and R1), twist the camera forward (L2), guard (R2 + square), command/collect/climb (X), switch the pocket light on or off (circle), check the map (triangle), check stored items (select), pause the game (start), walk or run (left analog), and lastly, look around while in a first person view (L2 + right analog). So you see, virtually every button can be used throughout the gameplay, which again takes time to tangle with these ropes.
Progressing with this particular control style though has its good points, and bad ones as well. Considering that Heather has no option for automatically turning in a 180? circle automatically in the likeness of Resident Evil shows up as one problem (instead, you'll need to manually rotate her). Another little gripe is with the game's awkward camera. Sometimes it knows when to behave, and other times it doesn't want to. When Heather enters a new area, it's usually at this instance that you'll see Heather's front half (the breast side). Press the L2 button after opening a door, and at this moment you'll receive the backside of Heather instead (the butt side). Although, at other times after you open a new door, the camera angle may be fixed on Heather's front -- which doesn't fare well when monsters appear right away and it's harder to strike due to the camera's occasional disadvantage points.
There is no such thing as a straight reality in Silent Hill 3's presence. Everything here only exists as what a lovely world of disgust would appear as if it were possible. For in this game, everything seen is of a dark and disturbing nature you'll only wish weren't there to begin with. Unsettling, the charred blackness of most of the game caves into the outside and insides of tunnels, hallways, storage rooms, staircases, stores, and more. All Heather has to see in these cases is her trusty pocket flashlight. When juiced up with power, the lightning effects from this tiny tinker toy, as well as extra sources leftover throughout the workable game environments, take a presidency over much, making the eyes see shades of shadow and light working in unison in shifting, circling, moving mannerisms that affect everything touched upon in such stunning sensory.
Be scared -- Silent Hill 3 is alive with unknowns that weave through the blackness and formulate into hellish defilers that all have their own bizarre method of animation only the sickest mind could fully perceive. Dead or dying, these warped baddies have heads that jiggle, legs that wiggle, and masses of bodily meat that flop down into a painful looking slow seizuristic life ending. And when these abominations are up and atem, their head butting, spinning, slamming, running, biting, wriggly ways are just another eerie something to press the pause button a lot for, and repeat to yourself, "It's only a game." Heather isn't without her own set of motions either, as there's distinct differences set to her behaviors. When she runs a short distance, her flailing arms and legs will take her there fast. If she runs a long distance though, she'll tire from the length and bend over gasping for air. When Heather cracks open an enemy's head with the steel pipe, its light weight will make quick work of it. But if she's handling a heavier melee object like the maul (a long shaft with a spiked ball at one end), the heaviness of its load will slow her down from walking around and swinging it more openly.
It's easy to see that most of the work went into the insanely creepified details of the game, however. Details of the places you'll walk around; cracks molded into the walls, wiring that's loose, blood stained floors, piles of wheelbarrows, ladders, boxes, and even dead bodies laying around, and decrepit tiling across walls, floors, and ceilings. Then when the game morphs into another place all together, the environment becomes most otherworldly. Organic skin coarse along the walls of a brownish and bloody coloring; sacks of fleshy objects are placed all around the floors; and everything in sight is disguised in corroded layers. Essential to these same details are the shapes in which the game's character models turn out, which to say the least are quite remarkable. The disgusting anatomy of the menacing creature builds is absolutely wretched, while Heather is nicely fit with messy dirty blonde hair and an outfit that says, "Hey, let's go camping!" Especially in Silent Hill 3's cinematic sequences is where the most detail is strung out, where you can actually catch a glimpse of Heather's freckly skin, or the pinkness in her drugged out sunken eyes, or in the many, many hairs sprouting from Detective Douglas' full grown beard. Simply put, Silent Hill 3's alluring visual presentation is some of the best you'll find on the PlayStation 2 without a doubt.
Always working against you, the sundry sounds of Silent Hill 3 attempts to play around with your ill spoken thoughts until your psychosis shoots through the roof -- which is what's so great about them. Heather's echoing footsteps across the surface of variable terrain of squishy liquid, cement tiles, shattered glass, etc.; the pings of steel against hard surfaces or the drills of shots fired into the monster meat that then absorbs it; or the cries, shrieks, roars, and whatever else monsters lament, all work well for Heather's encounters with the wide range of sounds her dreary expedition has to offer. Early on while into this adventure too, Heather receives a broken radio like her fellow protagonists that can only pitch into the detection of the misshapen foes that surround her. With a crackle of deformed erratic static every now and again, you'll catch onto the very noises you never wanted to. Yet, it's the game's other aiding audio touches that'll fix you a visit into the loony bin. At random, growls, moans, creaks, and even long drawn footsteps ascending the staircase from once you came only manage to stir an unwanted chill into your backside at each particular juncture.
Not often do video games include a special free pack-in for its players, but Silent Hill 3 does. Included is a bonus soundtrack featuring 25 original (and some remixed) tracks all composed from the same vocal, instrumental, and an electronics artist, Akira Ymaoka. Baneful, grim, and ominous some of these songs are, the soundtrack melds into the game's terrifying search and find practice substantially. And as for the crew who makes what few consisting faces the game holds sound off, the voice talent quality is passable with Heather's immature attitude, Douglas' rough cut voice, and Claudia's mysterious and foreign translation...although, it's just unfortunate that there's really not a whole lot of time spent on sequences when the characters do speak, intertwining the already confusing story together bit by bit.
Good, bad, this is Silent Hill 3: the next step Konami has taken into broadening their masterful epilogue of psychological fears, blood shedding, and awe stricken sounds and sights galore. Laden with a few differences here and there, no horror fan...in fact, no GAMER can be without this third instalment in one of Konami's best franchises on the market. As it stands, Silent Hill 3 doesn't end up becoming the best in what the series has to offer, but it's close. Close enough to warrant a "buy me" label all over its disheveled, ferocious innards that only want you to scream, scream, and scream some more you big baby. So what are you waiting for -- your mommy?