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Looking Back to 2012 and the Foggy Fun Times of the Silent Hill: HD Collection

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I remember, many moons ago, playing the original Silent Hill on my trusty PlayStation, and having the willys put up me good and proper. The crackle of the radio, the fog shrouded streets, the atmosphere of dread; it was all very unnerving indeed. So, of course, I was first in line when the second game appeared, and again spent a lot of time chasing around, trying to avoid Pyramid Head and whatever those nurses were in the hospital. 

It is safe to say I was hooked, and I went on to play all the Silent Hill games after that, even The Room, which I didn’t like very much. So, imagine my joy when, in 2012, an HD Collection of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 was released for the Xbox 360, especially as by that time I had migrated to Xbox from Sony’s family of consoles. 

silent hill hd collection 1

Now, it wasn’t an easy birth for Silent Hill by all accounts. You see Konami, who made the original games, had failed to archive the source code for the games once they were released, so the developers over at HiJinx Studios apparently had only the bare bones to work from, and as a result it took nearly two years to iron out the majority of the bugs. Add in problems with licensing the voice acting in the original games, and this goes some way to explaining why Silent Hill 2 had the option for the original voice overs, while Silent Hill 3 doesn’t. 

Other technical issues that had to be mended were a little more amusing, such as Heather, the protagonist of the third game, occasionally turning blue. Silent Hill 3: Smurf Edition has a certain ring to it though, I reckon…

Now, I’ll briefly touch on the stories of the games, so, on the off chance that you haven’t played a game from ten years ago, and with source material even older than that, please consider this your Spoiler Alert. 

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Silent Hill 2, still the best in the series in my opinion, featured the story of James Sudnerland, who had lost his wife a few months earlier. Imagine his surprise then to receive a letter from her, stating that she was waiting for him in Silent Hill. Obviously, he then has to travel back there to find out what is happening, and while the story fails to make a massive amount of sense – and I’m still not sure if James actually offed his wife or not – the first playthrough sticks in the mind. This was especially the case as I played it before the internet was really a thing, and so help/cheating by looking at guides just wasn’t available. That meant that Pyramid Head and his massive knife, fighting him with little more than harsh language as the game was so stingy with ammo, were factors that shaped me into the gamer I am today. 

Silent Hill 3 was a direct follow-on from the first game, centering on a character called Heather Mason, who – blue or not – gets tangled up in a plot to revive an ancient evil god. Again, the story is completely bonkers, but a little easier to follow than that in Silent Hill 2, and consequently was a little bit easier to complete. Both of these games are firmly in the survival horror genre, and while the fog of the second game hid a multitude of monsters (there’s not a lot tenser than running through foggy streets, looking for a door as sounds of unseen monsters close in around you), the third game was less reliant on the fog as a mechanic. 

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The reaction to the Silent Hill HD Collection was a bit of a mixed bag, if I remember rightly. I was excited to play them, but I had learned my lesson before about just rushing out and buying games based on my rose tinted glasses, so I waited for the reviews to drop. And oh dear, they weren’t very good!

One of the biggest complaints from the time was of terrible frame rate drops and stuttering, trouble with the audio and particularly the lip syncing; some even wrote that thinning out the fog in the second game revealed more of the game’s technical limitations that couldn’t be swept under the carpet. On the plus side, less fog did mean that textures became visible that couldn’t be seen in the original games, including some with clues about the various puzzles, so every cloud and all that. When I did eventually buy it I was more than happy with my experience, as it recreated the games that I remembered playing from my youth, and I do love a trip down Memory Lane. 

But what about you guys out there, on the other side of the screen? Did you have a soft spot for Silent Hill, the sort of poor relation of Resident Evil that it was? Did you play the originals, or was the HD Collection your first taste of the series? With the collection being made backwardly compatible on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (download it from the Xbox Store), there’s no excuse not to give a whirl. 

Let me know what you remember in the comments!

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