Silent Hill: HD Collection

Silent Hill: HD Collection Steven McGehee Hot

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Written by Steven McGehee     March 28, 2012    
 
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Publisher
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Release Date
March 20, 2012
Storage Size
~2GB
MSRP $
39.99
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Players

Love the idea, hate the execution.

HD Collections are always particularly exciting for me because they usually contain two or three games from a series that I had not previously played. I was not part of the heyday of PlayStation and PlayStation 2, as I was solely a PC gamer at the time, getting back to consoles around 2004. Anyway, done right, HD Collections are a great way to experience classic games for the first or dozenth time. Additionally, for the most part, publishers take their HD Collections (or any re-release for that matter) seriously, and with pride. That was true for the Konami published Metal Gear Solid HD Collection from a few months ago, but their recently released Silent Hill HD Collection leaves an awful lot to be desired.

 

SHHDC-1

The visual difference is significant, but it can't overshadow the problems...

The Silent Hill HD Collection (SHHDC) contains two games: Silent Hill 2 (I don't think it's the Restless Dreams version, but I could be wrong), and Silent Hill 3. The first Silent Hill was released on the original PlayStation, so while I don't have official confirmation on this, I presume it was left out because HD-ifying something that old likely poses a major, cash-draining challenge. SH2 is considered to not only be the best in the series to date, but also one of the best horror games of all time, so adding it is a no-brainer. SH3 is a sequel to the original in that it involves Harry Mason's daughter, and adding it makes plenty of sense as well. What's really too bad and frankly disappointing is that they stopped their. Hijinx Studios, responsible for the HD ports, could have added Silent Hill 4: The Room, Silent Hill: Origins, or Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. All three games were released on PlayStation 2 (as well as other platforms). Naturally, adding all of these would have taken a lot of time and bumped the price of the release up, but I think fans would have been more than happy to pay for that if they were done right.

 

SHHDC-2

All that and more I'm afraid.

While it feels like a missed opportunity, having HD versions of just SH2 and SH3 is a pretty sweet thing in itself. Having only ever played the original Silent Hill and the newest one, Downpour, I was excited to experience these older classics. I did not make sufficient time to play the original versions before jumping into these HD ones though, despite planning too for a few months. That said, I knew I wasn't able to appreciate this HD collection to the fullest. However, as I switched back and forth between the two games, chipping away at the story of each, I noticed several technical issues that I thought were too surprising to have just been part of the original games. At the very least, I would have thought that if they were somehow from the original games, that Hijinx would have cleaned these up in the process.

The first major snag I noticed was the slowdown that occurs in SH3, which seemed to occur most often when I was running in an area with one or more monsters. I don't know the exact formula for what causes these 'running through water' moments, and at first I almost thought it was just a part of the original game, a strange attempt to add atmosphere to the game by making it feel like you were running in a dream. But, in reading online fan sites like the Silent Hill Historical Society, who not only know more about the franchise than I ever will, but also posted a superb review of the HDC, it's clear that this issue is one of many stemming from the HDC. I noticed audio dropping out and the looping problem with the radio (making it more of an irritant than a catalyst to the unsetting atmosphere), but I was shocked to learn that certain parts of the original audio recording were flat out missing, amongst a variety of other flaws. In SH2, several scenes were actually altered and censored from the original, I suppose to avoid some kind of backlash or a AO ESRB rating or something. Regardless why, it's a punch in the gut to franchise fans who were wanting a quality HD-ification of these originals.

 

SHHDC-3

Good to know!

On the positive side of things, the graphics are technically improved, that much is clear. From what I have read (as I have not played the original games), it looks like Hijinx may have gotten a little liberal with the artistic freedom and actually pushed out the fog in SH2, giving the player more visible area. They probably thought that less of the murky fog would make the experience more appealing, but it gives the player too much of a viewing distance and that spoils some sequences that would have otherwise been more intense if your visibility were more limited. I think they did a pretty good job with the textures, though, as you can see in the comparison screenshots in this review. That certainly goes a long way, but in the face of the technical flaws and content alterations, it doesn't mean that much.

By this point I was already planning on getting to a good stopping point with these games and hunting down original PS2 versions on eBay or my local game stores. From the amount I had played, and the praise I had heard and read over the years for these games, it wasn't worth wasting what might be my only play-through on ports riddled with issues.

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Editor reviews

A disappointing release, partially in terms of content, but primarily in how the ports were handled. Altered and missing content plus major technical woes are highly critical mistakes to make. I hope Konami revisits the idea of a true Silent Hill HD Collection in the coming years.
Overall rating 
 
5.8
Gameplay 
 
6.0
Presentation 
 
6.0
Value  
 
6.0
Fun Factor 
 
6.0
Tilt 
 
5.0
Steven McGehee Reviewed by Steven McGehee March 28, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (921)

Silent Hill: HD Collection

A disappointing release, partially in terms of content, but primarily in how the ports were handled. Altered and missing content plus major technical woes are highly critical mistakes to make. I hope Konami revisits the idea of a true Silent Hill HD Collection in the coming years.

Videogames

Gameplay
Two great games with some age on them, i.e., controls and camera take a little getting used to if you're not into older games. Action is usually pretty clunky as things just were back then, and I often didn't know where the heck I was supposed to go next. But despite that, these are two great games that have otherwise done very well over time. However, the HD port introduces a lot of technical and content problems. Some original material is missing, some players are reporting system freezes, and I personally experienced lots of audio issues and slowdown.
Presentation
In screenshots, the visuals look like the received a very nice boost, and that's especially true for SH3. But underneath the new coat of paint, and the optional new audio recordings (which were nice to have), expect framerate troubles and audio issues.
Value
I love a good HD Collection, but this one is the worst yet due to all of the technical and content issues already mentioned. I also thought they could have added additional features and basically made this release a celebration of Silent Hill's legacy rather than a cash-in attempt. Furthermore, there are at least three other Silent Hill games that could have been added rather than just these two. Not that I would expect all three of the others, but I thought just doing 2 and 3 was unfortunate.
Fun Factor
Some of the old school design (camera, collision detection in combat) can be a little annoying, but I would venture to say (having not played the original versions much at all) that most of the fun-reducing factors of this release are from the HD port itself, not because of the original games.
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