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Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears Review
PIII-700, 64MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 1.8GB HD
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Dec 02, 02 (released)
|» All About Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears on ActionTrip|
Console port games, 9 times out of 10, suck. Some of these ported games just do not get it right. There's almost always something in there to irritate a true PC gamer - whether it's the lackluster graphics, the low-res textures, or the god-awful camera controls, some of these ports just cannot get it right.
So instead of enjoying all the good aspects of a decent console game to their fullest, we're stuck with these half-assed adaptations, which just serve as further proof that you should think twice before churning out cash for a console game gone PC. Granted, there have been some admirable exceptions to this rule, but those are just that - exceptions. Games like GTA 3 are rare, whereas games like Silent Hill 2 are a common occurrence, and a good example of what I'm talking about.
Konami is a very well respected company; their name carries a certain weight in the gaming industry, so the question is why in the hell didn't they invest a few more bucks into making Silent Hill 2 as good a console port as possible? I have no idea. I guess they're quite content with the amount of money they made on the console version, and this is just a shameless attempt to lure unsuspecting PC gamers into buying this one on account of a rather popular game license like Silent Hill.
For those of you who are not familiar with the game's basic premise, this is a survival horror adventure, and as you know, those are very popular in Japan. Franchises like Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, and yes, Silent Hill are selling like Men's Fitness videos on Gay Pride parades, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that most of these original games have had their sequels, prequels and sequels to prequels released so far. It's the same with Silent Hill - Silent Hill 2 has already had considerable success on the PS2, and now Konami has set out to conquer the PC market. Not to mention that Silent Hill 3 (for the PS2) is just around the corner (hell, the Silent Hill 2 PC-CD is loaded with SH3 trailers).
The action in Silent Hill 2 takes you back to the wonderful and picturesque city of Silent Hill. The players are given a chance to explore new areas closed off from the original game, as well as explore their inner fears as the storyline progresses - James Sunderland's life is shattered when his young wife Mary suffers a tragic death. Three years later, a mysterious letter arrives from Mary, beckoning him to return to their sanctuary of memories, the dark realm of Silent Hill (clear-cut example of the "white guy running around a haunted house even though they should get out immediately" syndrome).
Now James must go back to that special place to uncover the truth, unaware that the answers he seeks may require the ultimate sacrifice...
One of the rare good things about this game is its storyline, and the way it unfolds as you uncover new areas and solve clues. The world of Silent Hill is laden with violent, psychedelic, gory and often quite bizarre events and characters, and as such presents a nice backdrop for a survival horror game. Silent Hill 2 can get genuinely scary at times and running around creepy environments armed with nothing but a flashlight to show you the way can be quite effective in terms of inducing fear in the player. In addition, the sound effects (though often repetitive) will add quite a bit to the generally creepy mood of this game. For example, when near monsters, your small portable radio will emit static sounds and I must say that the crackling of static and the impending encounter with a monster gave me a few chills during my initial time with the game.
The 3D engine in Silent Hill 2 has been somewhat optimized for the PC. The game supports very high resolutions (up to 1600x1200), and the textures are very detailed and high-res. The player models are abundant with polys and generally look good, and the programmers have made excellent use of lighting and shadows in order to create an eerie atmosphere of a sinister and deadly environment infested with vomiting, rotting zombies and more vomiting characters that will eventually turn into zombies. The in-game world looks gritty enough to get you in the groove, but I'm afraid this is as far as the designers went in terms of creating a successful port of a rather successful console title. It all just goes doooowwwnnn (silent) hill from here.
First off, though the visuals have their upsides, the camera is ATROCIOUSLY AWFUL (there's no other way of putting it in words). It's disorienting, it's irritating and it just ruins any sort of fun you may ever get from playing this game. I cannot even begin to describe how hard it was for me to adjust to the fact that not only there's no mouse support, but the funky camera angles and the fact that you have to manually adjust the position of the camera in order to get any sort of perspective on your surroundings will literally make you kick your cat (feed your dog some rat poison?) in frustration and go ape shit after playing Silent Hill 2 for a couple of hours. How's that for a downside? I mean think about it, this is an adventure game, which means you have to look for clues all the time. And how in the hell am I supposed to look for clues when I can't even figure out how to position my character properly in order to inspect a room?
In addition to the fact that camera controls were designed by someone who was high on some dangerous derivative of crack, the levels will often resemble a giant maze where everything just looks the same and you can never figure out if you came from this way or that. At first, I was literally lost every time I'd walk out the door, and even when I finally got the hang of it, there was the problem with having to position your character RIGHT in front of an important clue in order for him to interact with it.
For an adventure game, this is just too much...
Unfortunately, the list of irritating downsides doesn't stop there. The combat in Silent Hill 2 is about as repetitive and tedious as they get. Consequently, playing Silent Hill 2 will get even more painful after a while, as the animation of both the main character and the monsters is weak and simplistic. Fianlly, the sounds of shrieking monsters are so repetitive they will make you wish you put a bullet through your SoundBlaster half way through the game.
Still, if you're persistent enough, and you don't mind battling through the endless mazes of bad camera angles, confusing levels and repetitive combat you might learn to like Silent Hill 2. I must say, it takes a special kind of gamer to finish this one on the PC. As for me, I'd rather watch a documentary on rare flesh-eating tropical diseases than play this one again. Sure, the game has its moments but they are just brutally eviscerated by all the idiotic game design solutions that have been implemented in this PC port.
The story is decent enough; the game does create a genuinely chilly atmosphere at times. Bizarre surroundings and monster models.
Camera is ... it is ... horrific! This game belongs to the survival camera horror genre! And there's no mouse look, to boot! Maze-like levels don't go too well with the idiotic camera. You can easily miss important clues. Weak animation of the characters, tedious combat sequences.
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