Silent Hill 3 isn't so much about gameplay as it is about creating a disturbing look and feel and immersing you in it, which is something it does very well.
Konami's Silent Hill series is known for two things: loads of creepy atmosphere and awkward, underdeveloped stories. Silent Hill 3, released on the PlayStation 2 earlier this fall, continues both these traditions by offering up a survival horror adventure that's long on eeriness and short on sense. Silent Hill 3 isn't so much about gameplay as it is about creating a disturbing world and immersing you in it, which is something it does very well.
First things first. Silent Hill 3 is enough to make you vomit--not because of the blood and gore, of which there's plenty, but because of the clunky controls and wild camera system. They're so awkward, disorienting, and motion sickness-inducing that there are many times when you'll want to quit the game in disgust. You get two basic camera/movement options. With one system, character movement is relative to the camera. In the other, movement is relative to the character's view. To further confuse matters, you can also look around rapidly, in a small arc, while holding down a particular key. Additionally, the game sometimes switches your view to draw your attention to something or to merely create a dramatic visual. What this all boils down to is that the camera is frequently pointing away from where you want to look. Oftentimes, an attacking creature--and sometimes even your character--is hidden from view. You can theoretically reorient the camera, but it's usually sluggish, or it simply won't move around properly in tight areas.
The movement controls were clearly designed with a gamepad in mind, though you can use the keyboard, albeit awkwardly. For added frustration, you have to engage a special "caution" mode before attacking enemies. When other third-person console games, like Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, get ported to the PC with smooth, easy controls and camera views, there's really no excuse for Silent Hill 3's problems to exist.
If you can get past the clunky camera and controls, Silent Hill 3 has some cool things to offer. The heroine is interesting. She's just an ordinary teenage girl named Heather who means well but also has a bit of an attitude. After an introductory sequence with a surprise twist, we find Heather in a burger joint in a shopping mall. She heads off to call her dad to let him know that she's coming home soon, but then she meets up with a supposed detective who wants to talk to her about her birth. Heather doesn't want anything to do with the guy, so she heads into the ladies' room and then bolts through a window that leads into a back alley.
When you lead Heather back into the mall through a service entrance, things start to go very wrong. The halls are now empty, most of the shops are barred shut, and suddenly you come face-to-face with some kind of hellhound who's sloppily munching on a corpse. Fortunately, you also find a pistol for dealing with just such an eventuality. One of the neatest things about this whole opening segment is the way the game shifts between cutscenes and in-game action. The graphics are all so good that you may not even notice, at first, that a cutscene has ended, and you're now suddenly in control. Konami obviously wanted to create a lot of cinematic atmosphere, and they sure succeeded.
Really, atmosphere is what Silent Hill 3 is all about--not story or logic. (Logic has little to do with real horror, anyway.) Heather seems to be an average girl, yet she amazingly doesn't seem particularly frightened when she spots all sorts of gibbering, shambling, blood-soaked creatures who are feasting on corpses--or trying to feast on her. Even Rambo would run like hell from that. Early on, she meets a pale, frail-looking woman named Claudia, who starts rambling on about rebirth and paradise. This upsets Heather a bit, but then it's back to business as usual, which means casually roaming through a big mall that insidiously grows ever creepier.
- Player Reviews: 49
- Game Universe:
- Silent Hill 2 (PS2, PC),
- Silent Hill 3 (PS2, PC),
- Silent Hill 4: The Room (PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Silent Hill: Homecoming (PS3, X360, PC),
- Silent Hill: Origins (PSP, PS2),
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (WII, PS2, PSP),
- Silent Hill: Downpour (PS3, X360),
- Silent Hill HD Collection (PS3, X360),
- Silent Hill: Book of Memories (VITA),
- The Silent Hill Experience (PSP)
- Number of Players: