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Silent Hill
Review By: Joel Fajardo
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Survival Horror
ESRB:   Mature

It’s rare under any circumstance that I like a game even partly associated with Konami. That is why I was shocked when I played Silent Hill. Sure, you see the commercials, read the reviews, and see the advertisements that tell you this is the game to buy, but honestly, who ever believes that rubbish? So, I picked up Silent Hill, not knowing really what to expect—a best, a mediocre Resident Evil clone. Well, was I right, you wonder? I have never, ever been so wrong

Silent Hill starts out with the protagonist, Harry Mason (Doesn’t it seem as if there’s always a Harry?), and his daughter, Cheryl. " Harry Mason prefers to take later vacations with his daughter Cheryl. This year they’ve made plans to visit Silent Hill. Due to car trouble, they reach the outskirts of the town late at night. Cheryl is sleeping in the back seat as a motorcycle cop roars past his truck. Moments later, Harry spots the motorcycle dumped on the shoulder. There is no one to be seen. It paints an ominous picture. Suddenly, a shadow appears in front of the car. Harry turns the wheel in panic. The car slides off the edge of the road and into a gully. Harry eventually regains consciousness. Cheryl is nowhere to be seen. It is unusually col. Snow is falling out of season. Where has Cheryl disappeared to? Harry walks toward a town he seeing in the distance…" (-- Silent Hill manual). Thus, the game beings. The objective: To find Cheryl. Sounds easy, right? Well, if you consider shooting terodactyls, slaying hell hounds, killing giant gorillas, and blasting away huge bosses commonplace and child’s play, then sure—it’s easy.

Silent Hill both looks and feels like Resident Evil with some minor and major changes. Most obvious, the graphics, like Resident Evil I (not REII), are good— prerendered and shaded beautifully—not primitive, but nothing revolutionary. However, unlike Resident Evil (II), the game takes places in many different environments. Not only do you journey against the forces of evil in a somewhat-confined city, such as Capcom limits you to, but you travel to various places all in hopes of saving your daughter (i.e. a school, hospital, resort, regular town, and…" the other side"). Enemies are scary-looking, but appear too often in the same form (i.e., many hellhounds, gorillas, and so forth) making the their appearance rather lacking. The bosses you ask? Pure brilliance at its best; a piece of art, no less.

The reason why I spent so little time talking about the graphics, and the reason that I failed to mention that the intro on SH is unarguably the scariest and one of the most well-designed CG intros ever made, is because Silent Hill isn’t about graphics. It’s about horror, action, and plot. Like some mad disease taking over my body, I feel as if I’m being redundant, without thought, when comparing Silent Hill to Resident Evil. It’s just because they are so alike… yet, so different.

For example, SH plays exactly like Resident Evil to the degree that the manuals of both games could be swapped for each other’s. The same buttons are used to run, perform actions, and so forth. While, on the other hand, the plots are completely different: Resident Evil II has two main characters that unfold into several stories and complex plots that are rather straightforward; Silent Hill, on the other hand, gives you one character, with very stoic and generic features, that only leaves you to imagine what he’s like. However, you get significantly more involved in the plot and concerns of Harry than you would to Leon because the horror level is noticeably higher (than REII) that it always keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what’s next! SH seems more cynical, creepier and more chilling, too, because you can relate more to the game and the environments—Schools, shopping malls, police departments, hospitals—and, the characters (besides Harry) appear to have more of a… human side to them, in my opinion.

Voice-overs certainly add to the overall affect of the game and story. I wasn’t sure though, if the reason there were so many awkward pauses and skips when they talked was due to my CD and PSX, or the actual game. Friends of mine said that they noticed no problems. Creatures, too, give out appropriate cries, screams, and growls, while Harry is rather monotone. When enemies are near, your radar goes off, which sounds like a larger amount of static (depending on how close you are to the enemy); it the beginning, it’s somewhat annoying, but it shortly becomes white sound and isn’t a problem. And, the music during the course of the game is chilling and adds just the right affect and just the right moments.

My favorite part of the game was the close hand-to-hand (or non-projectile-weapon-to-weapon, rather) combat. Throughout the game you’ll find several tools to help you on your quest—a pipe, ax, hoe, and the like. When out of bullets and encountering certain enemies, such as zombie-nurses or most water creatures, these tools enable you to fight close up and kill your enemy with a more intense feeling at hand, and in the process allows you to save bullets. This is what Resindent Evil was missing, and this is what makes the game.

One complaint that I had about the game was its lack of replay value. The plot is completely linear, and you find pretty much everything the first time around. On the good side, once you beat the game you get more, new weapon, and there are up to four endings, which don’t differ too much from each other. And, if you were wondering, the game is 3D and isn’t stuck in one camera view like you’d see on RE I and II.

In a nutshell, Silent Hill is Silent Hill and not Resident Evil. The action is intense, characters are deeps, and the plot is somewhat confusing at times, yet strong. If you’re a fan of the horror genera or third person shooter games, this surely is a game for you.

Overall: 9.1
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