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Silent Hill HD Collection

Revival - or is it resurrection? - has lately become a prominent issue in gaming.

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We've talked about Rayman. Master Chief, Lara Croft. Dante and Solid Snake. The concept - repaint a classic, or collection of, with higher resolution visuals and you're done - is an easy one to accept when you're talking well-regarded titles like the Silent Hill games.

The ground-work for a different kind of survival horror, one that lay very different from the road taken by Resident Evil, was laid in 1999.

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That experience, the PSOne original, is sadly missing from this collection (though available for PS3 players through PSN download), and instead focus is solely on the second and third chapters, now around ten years old - 2001 and 2003 to be precise.

The obvious questions then: have they aged gracefully, and do the experiences justify a retail release?

Silent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill HD Collection

As for the question of what enhancements the HD lick gives, well...with or without it, these older survival horror titles feel more creepy and as anxiety-inducing than their contemporary counterparts.

Silent Hill 2 still delivers one of the best horror experiences I have experienced. It's atmosphere is as thick as the fog that shrouds the town of Silent Hill, as I walk James Sunderland through dark corridors and foggy streets, tracing the origins of a letter sent from here by his wife dead ten years past.

Not surprisingly, there is something wrong with this city.

You'll quickly be challenged by a range of crazed creatures, defence only those make-shift weapons you find on your travels. The flash light, now a classic item in many horror games as recently as Alan Wake, began its life as part illuminator, part shadow-casting fear-baiter here.

Once you're unravelled the mess that is the second entry - and played it again to try and work out what the hell just happened - you can change sex and numeral value as you portray Heather in SH3.

While not a direct continuation of the second game and can be played standalone, there's certain passages in which including the original Silent Hill as part of this package would have been useful, not only from a story point of view, but to show Team Silent's, the original studio, strongest works and still the best entries of the series to date.

Silent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill HD Collection

From a replay perspective, Silent Hill 2 edges out the third as the better game, though I'm fully aware that my love of the genre was birthed with the first PS2 foray into the world, and thus subjectivity may be a wavering line on this occasion.

With ten years under their belt, its in the control scheme that both our protagonists come close to retirement age. Even on original release, movement was difficult and aggravating. Today its one stick to control, the other for camera. Back in 2001 the left thumb-stick took the duties solo. Camera control could, and can be shifted with a button press, but at a 180 degree twist that feels a relic.

Silent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill HD Collection

Puzzles in Silent Hill, are brutal, but only in so much as they never guide you confidentially by the hand. This is not a linear action experience. It demands patience, contemplation (or the ability to search YouTube for aid). Several solutions require combinations of several small parts, and the leaps you'll need to make will elude after a decade of evolved (or devolved) difficulty pampering.

If you're of limited patience, you'll find it wearing. Silent Hill expects you to comb every every corner of the game, and reshape your logic sensors as to why X should work with Y to create L.

Silent Hill HD Collection

Visually the HD graphics offer a nicer take on the original cut-scenes, and while the new voice cast doesn't better the original (nicely you can choose between the two), the new soundtrack is solidly executed.

Updated titles will always have a market. Old gamers such as myself are tempted by the nostalgic kick, but the Collection may not be the perfect pleasure contemporary players lacking the ten plus years of gaming knowledge that links between the then and now.

And even if you'd played the games first time round, if its the puzzles rather than the unsettling atmosphere that twists your stomach in knots with the memory, you may want to avoid this. Ten years on, one thing's remained unchanged: Silent Hill's ability to divide opinions, for both critic and fan alike.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+ Silent Hill 2's worth the reinvestment (or first time play) even now. + 2 includes an updated soundtrack.
- Lack of the original. - Management system is outdated. -Requires great patience to wade through.
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