Most Silent Hill fans are very different from their Resident Evil counterparts. They are easily more particular and in many ways could be considered purists. So, it is no surprise that when Konami announced that due to licensing problems, they were redoing the voices for Silent Hill 2 and 3 many were very upset. It didn’t even matter that the replacement voice for James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2 is Troy Baker. Troy is a primary voice in a large number of the biggest hits at last year’s E3 Expo in Los Angeles, including Catherine, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Diablo 3, and Bioshock: Infinite to name a few.
Konami was finally able to resolve those legal issues and the original voices for Silent Hill 2 are available in the HD Collection. Unfortunately, Silent Hill 3 is only playable with the new voice work and neither the original Silent Hill nor the much less popular Silent Hill 4: The Room are included. That is not to say the new voices are bad, but they are different and that is enough to upset many of the Silent Hill faithful. Personally, I like the timbre of some of the new voices better, but there are instances where they sound a bit wooden. Troy Baker explained some the technical difficulties in an interview with The Gaming Liberty.
Besides the changed aural atmosphere of Silent Hill 2 and 3, both games in the HD Collection offer alternate control schemes. The options available in the settings are described as 3D and 2D controls and unlike the voices can be changed in game. The 3D controls are the original survival horror, tank type controls, where the character must be rotated with the analog stick and then is sent forward by pressing up. The alternate 2D controls are a more accurate input translation where the stick moves you directly in the fixed-camera scene but will also take some getting used to.
It’s hard to believe that Silent Hill 2 came out over 10 years ago — September 2001 for the PlayStation 2. It was followed by an extended version, which included an additional side story, for the XBox a couple of months later as Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams and then Silent Hill 2: The Director’s Cut again for PlayStation 2 the next year. Silent Hill 2 is the bizarre story of James Sunderland’s multidimensional search for his deceased wife. Strangely, he received a letter from her asking him to meet her in Silent Hill. James’ dark psychological journey is a tense, melancholy affair that may be too disturbing for many.
Silent Hill 3 was originally released almost two years later — May 2003 for the PlayStation 2 console only. It is a direct sequel to the original Silent Hill game and tells the story of an adopted teenage girl named Heather. Though Silent Hill 3’s content is not nearly as emotionally disturbing as Silent Hill 2, Heather’s quest to uncover her personal history and resulting fight for survival is an atmospheric and dark tale. Both games feature an eerie, ambient Akira Yamaoka soundtrack that hold up to time surprisingly well.
As loved as Silent Hill 2 and 3 are, the Silent Hill: HD Collection hardly does the games justice and is one of the poorest of the remastered collections we’ve seen. Besides the re-recording of voices, which arguably infuriates more people than it pleases, Konami has done little to the original games. The resolution, of course, has been improved and the fog has been lessened some to increase the sharpness but the draw distances weren’t adjusted to compensate. For a series that relies so heavily on atmosphere, it is also surprising that Konami did not add 3D like some of the other remastered collections.
Silent Hill: HD Collection certainly fills a need for survival horror fans but the remastered games could have used a little more sprucing up. As much as folks adore the psychologically dark and twisted stories of Silent Hill 2 and 3, what Konami has released will strike many as cheap. There is no reason to recommend the game to those that still own the originals and a machine to play them on, but for those who haven’t played the two games and if you can get used to the controls, Silent Hill 2 and to lesser extent Silent Hill 3 are iconic, must play games.
Silent Hill: HD Collection is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Violence.