Most helpful critical review
Reviewed Review, New Opinion
on May 20, 2004
What with all the excellent reviews of SH 3 floating about the web, I decide dthat my previous 3-star review clearly didn't take all aspects of the game into account. So I went and bought a walkthrough guide, took three days and completed everything.
And I'm sorry to say, I now think less of Heather and her ensemble cast of cliched characters than I did before.
SH 3 is a game only to be played by fans of the series, and even then, only if those fans can get it cheap. It follows the story of Heather, a young girl thrown into a nightmare world of androgynous, ambiguous creatures and hellish ocations, in the search for who killed her father. Of course, there are plot twists, but only those of us that have completed SH 1 will understand them fully - and even then, they're about as predictable as a wino with a $10 bill outside a liquor store.
This game is all mouth and no trousers - or, in game terms, all graphics and no substance. I guess that criticisms against the PS 2 are fairly levelled, then, when people say Sony's developers aren't concentrating on originality anymore.
SH 1 (on the PS 1) is a magnificent title, and, despite the now-poor graphics, still packs a creepy, dramatic punch, full of melancholia and tense atmosphere. Silent Hill 2 (PS 2) is an Opus, going far deeper into the psychology of fear than many films and novels do, and show exactly how affecting a Survival Horror game ought to be. It wasn't action-heavy, but was all the more affecting because of that.
SH 3 does none of the above. It takes some highly-accomplished character models, throws them into anonymous backgrounds that lack character and originality, poorly-designed, and rehashes some of the best-loved levels from the prequels (as I remember, SH 1 had 2 hospitals listed on the map - why are we still stuck in the same one now??) and really pointless characters. Where are the endearing, innocent Cheryls and Lisa Garlands? The morose, powerfully enigmatic Angela Oroscoes? The magnificently disturbing James and Marias?
Missing. And what we're left with is Heather (consummately annoying), Douglas (hopelessly underdeveloped as a character) and Claudia, a cult member whose total lack of reason and sense of purpose is matched only by the weakness of the game's 'explanation' of her raison d'etre.
Controls do nothing new, Survival Horror in this incarnation will always be a slightly flawed system, but does the job just fine. Sound is good, too, with the voice acting being of a slightly higher standard than before. Shame the script is so awful, then.
I have played Silent Hill 2 repeatedly. I will not play Silent Hill 3 again. Five times through this mess is enough for anybody. If you're into gorgeous graphics without any substance or atmosphere, knock yourself out. If you're looking for something a little more mentally challenging, get Fatal Frame 2 or wait for Silent Hill 4.
Very poor indeed.