It's Konami's turn to scare the crap out of you. Silent Hill offers up more cerebral heebie-jeebies than it's popular cousin Resident Evil. Where as RE was more 'jump out and scare you" Silent Hill is just plain stomach wrenching disturbing. The images in this game will stay with you for a long time. That's all well and good, but does it live up to the hype?
The question on everyone's mind is "Does this blow away the Resident Evil games?" Some will say yes and some will say no. I'm kind of on the fence. I think it blows away RE1, but pales to the more action oriented RE2. Silent Hill is a great attempt at advancing the ideas brought forth in the aforementioned games, but the 3D nature of the gameplay introduces entirely new control and camera problems that make gameplay tough at times. But this is Konami's first attempt at this genre and it's very promising indeed.
Graphically I was a little disappointed with Silent Hill. The CG intro is great and really sets up the game well. However, the in-game graphics I found grainy and generally unspectacular. I was quite disheartened to see some cutscenes go from amazing CG graphics into the much lesser quality game graphics. Imagine my horror when the mouths didn't move when the characters were talking. For shame, Konami. The problem with the graphics is really a consistency issue. Some of the 'non-3D" environments like back alleys and small corridors are done in the same style as RE; the same bizarre camera angles are used and the detail of the backgrounds goes up by about 80%. The fully 3D environments are foggy (done on purpose to set the mood, or so they say...) and (shoot me if I use this word again) grainy.
The animation has to be mentioned. In some cases, such as the bloody hounds that terrorize the back lanes, it's a joke! These dogs look like they are floating through the air when they jump at you! Check it out and see if I'm kidding!
Control is much like Resident Evil, except for the lack of aiming a bloody weapon. The instruction manual states that Harry Mason (The protagonist) is just a normal guy and therefore can't shoot very well. Well, okay Konami if you are going to give us an idiot character that can't shoot, for God's Sakes, give us plenty of ammo!! We know Konami can program a game that has a character in a 3D environment who can definitely aim a gun (Metal Gear Solid anyone) so can they have seriously made the game this frustrating on purpose?
Silent Hill doesn't rely on fast action, it's more a search and discover mission, with the occasional horrifying encounter. But again therein lies another fault. If you aren't confronted a lot throughout a game, you tend to get flustered and panic when you can't remember what to do. Oh sure that adds to the overall panic, but after you bite the big one too many times, panic turns to just plain pissed off. I found the puzzles a little tedious and that's what finally made me lower my opinion of Silent Hill. The game has so much imagination that it's a shame it relies heavily on the "find the key" (or more realistically, find the billion keys!) to open the doors. How come nobody in these damn games just chops down doors with an axe? Screw the lock! RE2 had it's share of this too, and it's about time game developers came up with another plot device already.
Now don't get me wrong here, there is a lot to like in this game. The atmosphere is extremely tense, the music and sound effects are top notch and the voices are decent (although the scripting is wooden and unconvincing). Walking through dark areas with only a flashlight is absolutely brilliant! And having the radio that emits white noise when something bad is near genius. For those two reasons alone this game The imagery is haunting and let me say this now; this isn't for young kids!! Some scenes will be absolutely terrifying for them.
Those expecting a big payoff ending in Silent Hill will be disappointed. You can play through the whole game and still miss sections vital to the overall story. You'll have to play through it again to find out more. That does add replay value but some gamers don't like that sort of thing. When I get to the end, I want to get to the END! I don't have all kinds of time to play these games 2 or 3 times!
All in all, it can be said that Silent Hill is a solid effort with some faults. Those looking for the intense action of RE may be disappointed. If disturbing atmosphere is your thing, with an emphasis on 3D exploration and puzzle solving, then SH will be worth a whirl. I don't think it has the quality of Capcom's survival horror games and in fact, comes up short when compared to Konami's own masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid. Of course, there is always room for improvement and the next game may be more than you bargained for. A definite must rental with an option to purchase is my final judgement in this case!