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June 4, 2003
Silent Hill 3 - Review
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Into the distance...
Konami's first Silent Hill game appeared on the PSOne way back in early 1999 and instantly became a classic to rival Capcom's Resident Evil titles. The Playstation 2 saw the arrival of the sequel, Silent Hill 2 which was equally well received although many thought the storyline was lacking in parts. Silent Hill 3 has arrived with little fanfare but that doesn't mean it's an inferior title. In fact this third game is the best in the series.

During the game you play the role of Heather. The heroine of this story. She is just an ordinary girl, with a bit of a sharp tongue and quick temper. On a typical Sunday she went shopping to the local mall, and stepped without warning, into a world of nightmares. Players must explore and unravel the mysterious connection between the god-forsaken town Silent Hill and her inner fears.

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If you've every played a survival horror styled game then you should know what to expect here. However while some games offer you more ammunition then used in the entire Iraq War Silent Hill 3 restricts the amount of ammunition and weapons for your character to use. This makes avoiding the monsters just as, if not more, important then confronting them. Adding to the sense of tension is the fact that most areas you will explore have little or no lighting and require the use of a flashlight.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this title is the three different levels of puzzle difficulty - and yes, it does make a big difference to the gameplay. If you want to just blast through the game you can turn the puzzle difficulty to low, but for a much more brain teasing, stimulating and rewarding experience you should leave the puzzle difficulty to medium or high.

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One of the cool cut scenes.
As with almost every video game there are some issues with this title. My biggest complaint - or should that be disappointment - is with the large numbers of doors that remain "locked" during the game. It's not uncommon to walk through an area with twenty doors and only find one of them open. It would have been nice to open a few more up for some more surprises or exploration. Another of the issues I had with this game which was the camera which at times points in the wrong direction and requires a little too much manual changing for my liking. Surely Konami could have done a little better then the camera system provided in this game.

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What the hell!
Graphically, the Silent Hill games have always been strong. Rather then emphasising high polygon counts or overly detailed textures the series has relied on strong atmospheric lighting and effects. Konami have once again provided strong lighting with many areas of the game quite dark, until you move around the flashlight. By doing this you are never sure what may be lurking in corners of rooms, at the end of corridors, or even two feet behind you. Effects such as steam and mist are common and also add to the games sense of danger.

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Is that my sisters dog?
While the lighting and effects are impressive another area which also caught my eye was the texturing. To put it simply, it's stunning. To be honest I don't think that I have seen so much impressive texturing to date on the Playstation 2. At first I thought it was due to the short draw distance and fogging, but some areas are much larger with the texturing looking impressive to the far distance. The CG from previous games has been replaced with real-time cut scenes which look incredible and will hold your interest as the story unfolds. Likewise, the character modelling and animation used in the game and during the cut scenes is second to none. Just check out the facial animations. Truly impressive.

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Check out the texturing!
When it comes to eerie games much of the atmosphere is generated from the sound, and this game exhumes quality from the opening moments. Akira Yamaoka has provided the sound design which includes atmospheric music and effects throughout the title to have the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. During the levels you'll hear all manner of screeches, scrapes, bumps and god knows what else. The result is that while playing this game in the dark of night with the lights off you're going to be scared shitless at times, and most of that it the haunting sounds emanating from your speakers. The voice acting, which is playing an incresingly important part in games these days, may not be the best heard in a video game, but it's more then acceptable.

There is little doubt that Silent Hill 3 is better then the two previous games in the series. The storyline is a lot more detailed, and effective, while the graphics have moved up another notch. If you like you survival/horror titles then this is yet another must have game. You won't be disappointed - but you will be scared!

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSStunning lighting and textures, characters and cut scenes also impress.
SOUNDVoice acting is better then average, but the sound effects rock.
GAMEPLAYPlenty of areas to explore, and many frights to be had = plenty of fun.
VALUESilent Hill 3 will take days to complete, then you'll play it again.
OVERALLSilent Hill 3 is easily the best game in the series. There are some niggling issues with the game such as the number of locked doors and the camera, but overall it's an engrossing game that every Playstation 2 owner should purchase.

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