How do you mess up re-releasing two of the greatest horror games of all time in HD? That’s a question that Konami and Hijinx Studios do their best to answer with their new Silent Hill HD Collection, which collects two of the most famous chapters in the long-running survival-horror franchise on one disc. Timed for release to help usher in the latest release, Silent Hill: Downpour, it’s a shame there isn’t much to celebrate some of the series’ best scares with this butchered ‘update’. With plenty of game-breaking glitches, lackluster – and unnecessary – new voice acting, and a complete disrespect for what made the original games so great, this title is sure to scare gamers away from Silent Hill for all the wrong reasons.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Silent Hill fan. Ever since I played the first one back in 1999 and especially with the sequel in 2001, I fell in love with the overall creep factor of the series as well as the awesome music and sound effects by Akira Yamaoka. This continued with the third entry, and I even enjoyed the fourth entry that was Silent Hill: The Room. But when the series was turned over to a different studio beginning with Silent Hill: Homecoming, which turned out to be a flop, my love for the franchise began to waver. Shattered Memories was a return-to-form for many, but like most fans I couldn’t help but feel that maybe the series’ best days were behind it.
So naturally when Konami announced that two of the best entries in the series were getting the HD treatment, I was past excited. But that excitement quickly gave away to abject horror as I was treated to choppy framerates, glitchy audio, blurry cutscenes, and lackluster new vocal performances. I was more than disappointed, I was hurt.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Silent Hill HD Collection features Silent Hill 2 and 3 on one disc, with visuals updated for HD displays. In Silent Hill 2 you play as James, a guy who receives a letter from his dead wife telling him to come meet her in the scary purgatory we all know and love as Silent Hill, and decides to go after her. In Silent Hill 3 you play as Heather, a young lady who becomes entangled in the creepy world of Silent Hill, unaware of her links to events from the first game. No matter which title you play, you’ll encounter plenty of weird monsters, psychological thrills, and other freaky things that are guaranteed to blow your mind as you attempt to escape the madness by solving puzzles and putting several weapons to good use, including guns and wooden planks. And yes, Pyramid Head is as freaky as ever.
But thanks to the technical issues that plague this release, fighting your way out just became a lot more complicated. First off, the framerate slows to a standstill when there’s more than a few creatures on the screen, making for some frustrating gameplay as you attempt to escape getting ganged on. This problem never plagued the original versions, so why is it doing so here on insanely more powerful hardware? Also, the audio tends to go out of sync or cut out altogether at times, which can be annoying when watching the cutscenes or trying to listen out for incoming enemies. To make things worse, the new voice actors featured here totally mess up the whole creep factor of these titles, as they sound boring and uninspired. Thank heavens there’s an option to hear the original voice actors on Silent Hill 2, but you’re just stuck with the new folks on part three.
While the in-game graphics on both titles do technically look better with the HD treatment, they effectively remove the dark, scary look the series is known for. They’re much sharper and brighter now, and much of the infamous ‘fog’ effects are gone, making it easy to see texture flaws and pop-in that were well hidden in the original releases. You would think that with this being a collection, there would be some special bonus stuff added. Sadly, that’s not the case, as this is as barebones as it gets, adding nothing to the games here except trophies / achievements for you to unlock.
I really had high hopes for Silent Hill HD Collection, especially at the prospect of reliving two of the series best in high-definition. But words can never truly detail the disappointment I felt after playing this, or attempting to play this mess Konami and Hijinx Studios are attempting to pass off as a finished title. Technically, this collection is a complete mess, with glitchy visuals and audio problems that make the games almost unplayable, with the upscaled visuals removing any sense of terror or suspense the originals once held. The new voice acting, the one area the developers bothered to update, are as uninspired and flat as they come. Fans should avoid this HD ‘update’ at all costs, as the game breaking glitches will terrify and haunt you more than the series ever could.