Silent Hill 3, PlayStation 2

Whereas the second Silent Hill was more of a ‘spiritual successor’ to the first game, the third Silent Hill is a direct sequel to Silent Hill [one], continuing the story, but with new characters, enemies and locations. As well as re-visiting places familiar to those who’ve played the first game.

The main playable character in Silent Hill 3 is Heather, a seventeen year-old girl with attitude, caught up in the mystery of this dark and disturbing place. The other main characters are: Douglas – a private detective in his late fifties who is searching for Heather; Claudia – a mysterious woman who seems to know something about what is going on and who meets Heather soon after she enters Silent Hill; and Vincent – a strange young man who shows up occasionally to give Heather clues and guidance, and also seems to know more than he’s letting on.

Heather begins the game well-armed and already carrying useful items such as the essential flashlight, and the radio that crackles when enemies are nearby. You at least don’t have to go through the rigmarole of acquiring these things first… Well, that’s not entirely true, but the game does like to mess with you – as far as what’s real and not real – and the opening does lull you into a false sense of… not security, but reality; that is a mixture of cleverness and cruelness. It seems that Heather is in the Lakeside Amusement Park and surrounded by monsters. But, of course, things are never quite as they seem in a Silent Hill game…

Combat is pretty much the same as in previous games. The ‘quick turn’ and ‘block’ commands both return from the second game. There are also some downsides to playing Silent Hill 3 over the previous games, most notably the many bottomless pits that Heather can fall into (and immediately die), and also the fact that there’s now a chance that she can become stunned by an enemy attack and therefore unresponsive for a few seconds. Like the second Silent Hill, at the start of the game you can choose difficulty levels for both the ‘action’ and ‘riddle’ parts of the game. On hard action difficulty monsters are much tougher, and Heather can more easily fall into pits, for example. And there are other factors too.

Silent Hill 3 doesn’t waste any time in introducing you to monsters either. You’re safe in the first room, but will be immediately attacked in the second, so need to have your wits about you straight away. Just like in the previous two Silent Hill games you can aim at (and lock on to) the nearest visible monster and use either melee weapons or guns. And once a monster has been knocked down you can stamp on it (repeatedly) until it’s properly dead (if you don’t do this monsters will keep getting back up to attack you). Of course ammunition is limited so it’s always best to use melee weapons wherever possible.

Having just played the first four Silent Hill games back-to-back I have to say that this third instalment is probably my favourite of them all. Not only are the graphics a big leap forward from the second game, but the characters and dialogue are also much improved, and I also liked the fact that puzzles take a back seat to exploration. The puzzles in Silent Hill one and two I thought were too obscure and caused some serious bottlenecks in the gameplay, but there’s none of that in this game – at least nothing that stops you moving forward for the first and second acts. Heather – the main protagonist – I thought was better acted and more believable than James Sunderland, the wooden lead in game two. And by Silent Hill 3 the facial expressions and body animations were getting to a level where the characters were becoming much more realistic than previously, which helps the game tremendously.

Silent Hill 3 was developed by Team Silent (an internal dev team at KCET/Konami Tokyo), and first published by Konami in 2003. It was followed by Silent Hill 4: The Room in 2004.

Silent Hill series on The King of Grabs: Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, Silent Hill 3, Silent Hill 4: The Room, Silent Hill: Origins (PSP), Silent Hill: Origins (PS2), and Silent Hill: Homecoming.

More: Silent Hill 3 on Wikipedia
More: Silent Hill series on Wikipedia

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