21 February 2010 | TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews
How on Earth do these keep being of such high quality?
No, I mean it, I am in a state of utter awe of this ability to continue producing grade-A results. This is a review of the PC version. All that appears to mean is that you can save at any time(with a few delectable exceptions), and are not limited to the well-placed(if arguably plentiful) checkpoints. In ways, this is less hard than the others(on the other hand, it is challenging, yes, also on the easiest setting, of the three for puzzles and four for action... yep, adjustable difficulty, so anyone can play this). It's about as long as the first one(in general, it takes a bit of inspiration from it... including in a way that I'd have preferred it didn't, but I understand that others did want that; you should definitely try to play the original one before this, you will appreciate it on another level), but the well-done puzzles seem simpler(that, or I'm getting better... and I tend to think it's the former, not the latter; meanwhile, this has the greatest riddle-solving system yet), if there may be about the same amount of them. On the other hand, this one may have about twice as many types of creatures. They are grotesque and nightmarish again, and this time, a few are downright bizarre in appearance, resembling nothing that we can recognize. All of the design is impeccably done. This again uses our own imagination in conjunction with the unnerving sights and audio to build up the psychological terror. The atmosphere is chilling, carefully established and maintained throughout, by the grisly sights and the incredibly well-done and meticulously crafted sound-side that is either shocking or hinting, never noisy or dull. This has amazing music, if there may be more lyrics than earlier in the series; then again, they are fantastic, and like the second, this does, as it needs to, distinguish itself(without deviating so much that we get alienated), they can't all be carbon-copies, they have to do something new. This hits the nail on the head in that regard. The plot is marvelous, if not as deep as that of SH2. I refuse to give it away. The story-telling is well-done(I swear to you, I was literally touched a handful of times during this, not only scared) with you finding details as you go along, and then the scripted, in-engine cut-scenes(there are no CGI ones in this one, and they are not missed), with a free cinematography(with that said, were there an excess of shots from below the protagonist, or was that just me?), a wide range of animations and rather articulated faces and the like(I do not personally find the introductory movie as compelling as the other two, perhaps that is only me... it might be the pop song, if I will grant that it's sufficiently sad in tone). This has astonishing graphics, and the lighting, shadows and weather effects(love the "grain") are brilliantly done. You now play as Heather, a teenage girl not afraid to speak her mind. I wasn't bothered by the gender in the least, and her personality isn't irritating(I've yet to come across a single obnoxious person in this franchise up to this point); however, her vocabulary, well, fits her age, and it does take away from the mood when something is called/described using words like "boring", "gross" or "yuck". Well, it didn't bother me enough to take me out of it, even briefly. All of the characters are credible, diverse and well-developed, and there are so few of them that you remember everyone and they all matter, none of them can be left out with no impact. Vincent is one of my favorites of all three games. The acting tends to be magnificent. This is instantly engaging and quite exciting. It takes a while before you realize what exactly is going on, without this losing any of its gripping tension. It is a cinematic experience with its strange, interesting and effective angles, and the dynamic camera that you can exert limited control over. The button for this can get you third person view, and that is invaluable in this. It won't work everywhere, still, it will when you have to, as the video-game won't always automatically do so. One thing I suppose one could say is that the enemies can be frustrating, to an extent not seen before this entry. And there are a lot of weapons, if not any that are superfluous. I've heard complaints about the Uzi... well, can *you* use it constantly? Besides, these are not about the combat. The lead now turns her head at nearly everything you can interact with, which at best takes getting used to, at worst is an annoyance. They split up Enter and Use into separate functions... not sure why. There are several endings and other things to unlock. This revisits areas from the previous incarnation, though they do new things with them. Several of your surroundings are creepy places to begin with, like a subway station and train. You now see the elevator as its moving, another of the countless eerie situations in these. It's all so abandoned, so close to quaint, and yet absolutely not. The interface remains unchanged as it should be, and once you are used to the directional keys(shouldn't take long), the way you move in this is rather intuitive, and you can get into this almost immediately. This does tinker with game-play mechanics a tad, all improvements. You can run a nice and fitting distance before tiring, for example. There are immense loads of brutal, bloody, strong violence and disturbing content, as well as a little sexuality in this - you should be able to figure out pretty quickly if you can handle it or not. I recommend this warmly to any fan of the other ones, and of other smart survival horror VG's. An acquired taste that ages like a fine wine, and that I wouldn't dream of doing without. Return to Silent Hill... if you dare. 10/10