Silent Hill HD Collection – Silent Hill 2 Review: Not Quite the Stellar Job we Were Hoping for

Silent Hill 2 is one of those games that gamers will throw out in conversations as to whether games are art of not. It is easily the most highly regarded horror game of all time, and single handedly launched the Silent Hill franchise. While Silent Hill 1 was a great game and has many a fan, it was also very much accused of being nothing more than a Resident Evil clone. Silent Hill 2 brought a level of intelligence to the genre that very few games have been able to emulate. Following the trend of HD Compilations, Konami decided to release both Silent Hill 2 and 3 in a single Silent Hill Collection. Why they didn’t include the fourth game is a little odd, but fans will agree that 2 and 3 are the standouts of the series so there isn’t really a need to feel cheated. Today I will only be looking at the Silent Hill 2 part of the HD Collection, and examining Silent Hill 3 at a later date. To begin, I will be reviewing Silent Hill 2 as a whole before moving on to the changes and additions of the HD Collection version.

The horror part of the game comes from the pink leopard print skirt she’s wearing.

Silent Hill 2 is a survival horror game, a genre which is traditionally full of action and jump scares thanks to its founder: Resident Evil. Silent Hill 2 went a different way with survival horror than the Resident Evil series however. Ammo and health are rarely concerns in the game, and enemies, while deadly, are not the brightest lights out there. What makes Silent Hill 2 scary is the overwhelming presence of the town of Silent hill. The enemies may not be the biggest threat, but the looming dread and fear that something terrible is going to happen will keep most gamers on their toes throughout the game. From the fog encased town, to the blood soaked halls of the hell world, Silent Hill 2’s atmosphere is the real star of the game.

Now you’ve got spear on my jacket!

As I said earlier, Silent Hill 2 is one of those artistic games, which can be exactly as deep as you want it. If you don’t pay very close attention, you can easily enjoy the tragic story with only a mild awareness of all of the narrative elements. Where Silent Hill 2 stands high is on scrutiny. A detailed analysis of ever location, creature, and character is possible and they all fit thematically to the central plot. Very, very few games are capable of doing it and, in my opinion, only one other Silent Hill got this aspect right after Silent Hill 2. Everything from the straightjacket encased acid-spitting enemies, to even the infamous Pyramid Head himself is a symbol relating back to the protagonist.

Sexual frustration. That’s the name of his game. Just look at his big, ineffective knife.

Where Silent Hill 2 has always faltered has been in the gameplay department. Put simply, you’ll fight with the controls as much as you’ll fight with evil nurses. Combat is weak with irresponsive controls, so it’s hard to really be precise with aiming or cramming a lead pipe through an enemy’s skull. Enemy AI is garbage, which hurts gameplay, but their random movements actually make them more terrifying as they are anything but predictable. Moving around the environment isn’t fluid either. Running and walking is imprecise at the best of times, and the character animations leave a lot to be desired. While these are a lot of negative points, gameplay rarely, if ever, detracts from the very unique experience of Silent Hill 2, an experience that modern Silent Hill games have been, unsuccessfully, trying to duplicate.

Well as long as the hole is gone, I’m sure we won’t have anything to worry about.

Now let’s move on to the HD Collection starting at the biggest difference: the new voice acting. I thought this was a nice bridge because it allows me to talk about the original voice acting as well. Silent Hill 2’s gameplay wasn’t great but it was functional; the same cannot be said about the original voice acting. I’ve played games like Baten Kaitos, and I can say without a doubt that Silent Hill 2 had the worst voice acting I’ve heard in a big budget, professionally made video game. It was embarrassing really.  Directed by Silent Hill, and vocal work veteran Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, the new vocal work is excellent. There are problems with proper voice synching, but that existed in the original as well, and the voice cast was not allowed to resynch. Overall, the new audio is considerably better than the original mess. The entire cast is spot on, from McGlynn’s Maria, to Liam O’Brien’s Eddy. The HD Collection did away with one of the biggest weaknesses of the original; however, many fans will likely still prefer the original voice work as nostalgia is a powerful force.

This is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and she is better than you.

The next major improvements of the HD Collection are the addition of trophies/achievements and, obviously, the HD upgrade of the original graphics. In both of these regards, the game is a success. The HD improvements are very noticeable and makes the game look way better than it should at its age. The trophy/achievement list is far more inspired than most bland trophy/achievement lists (Looking at you Resident Evil 4 HD). The trophies/achievements are tied to rank and ending. There is a trophy/achievement for each ending, and a trophy/achievement for every requirement for getting the best rank, as well as trophies for unlocking items in subsequent playthroughs. There isn’t a lot to get for the casual player, but fans who want to strive for perfection will find this list to their liking.

Now you finally have an excuse to see this

Now let’s get to the problems. These issues range from minor to major. Firstly let’s look at the smallest issue, which is that the HD Collection doesn’t allow you to go back to select a different game once you have selected one. Meaning, you have to reboot the game to select Silent Hill 3 after selecting Silent Hill 2. There are framerate issues, as well as one cutscene has been cut down by about two seconds for censorship reasons. The major problem with this version is something that has been dubbed the stutter walk. Sometimes, your character’s movement will be interrupted for a period of time, long or short. This is unbelievably frustrating and really takes away from the game. It doesn’t happen to everyone and it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it is awful. The real problem with these short comings is that HD Collections are not known to be buggy in the slightest, so it is weird that this collection would be plagued by so many minor and major glitches.

Alright James, one foot in front of the other. Don’t spaz out this time.

Silent Hill 2 in the HD Collection is good, but not great. The inconceivable issues that resulted from the port are troubling. These are things that can be fixed with a patch, and probably will for the most part, but there is no reason that they should have made it into the final game. Short of these issues, Silent Hill 2 is a great as it ever was and rarely shows its age.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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