silent hill defeated

I’m not sure what made me think I should play more Silent Hill. My wife and I joked about it now and then in the months since I last played. Actually, it had been nearly a year, when I put the damn game back in. I think I had wanted some more horror in my life after watching the new Resident Evil 4 trailer. Someone on IRC suggested I try SH2, and I pointed them at old articles. “The hospital!?” he cried! “You’ve barely played!”

There were probably other things going through my head, but I can’t recall them. At any rate, I found myself turning off the lights, getting my wife to come keep me company, and heading back into Silent Hill.

I was pleased, again, with the graphics, and I quickly got back into the controls. I was really surprised at how not awful the controls were, given my horrible memories of RE and SH2. Now, they’re not the best controls ever, but they got out of my way and let me play the game. I think the big difference might be fact that the camera moves. Turning and moving at once seems to work better, to me, in SH2 than in RE, but I’m not sure. Anyway, all I need to say is this: the controls don’t ruin the game.

By the time I arrived at the hotel, I’d already braved the city streets for a while, as well as the park and an apartment complex. The hospital was the largest section of the game, and was followed by more streets, a prison, and the hotel. They were all atmospheric and fairly interesting, but nothing really excited me. The monsters were spooky, but they didn’t vary very much, and I started to say, “Oh, another Doorman.” Most of the later monsters weren’t very spooky, actually. The demon nurses were pretty cool, though. They did this weird spastic head movement thing. It was ooky.

I think I might have been more on edge if I’d been playing the game at normal difficulty; I was almost never in any danger of dying. But even if I had been, I don’t think I would’ve been very scared. The game didn’t do a lot of shocking zombies-jumping-from-behind-door stuff, which was good. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much something-just-ain’t-right stuff, either. It tried, and sometimes didn’t do too badly, but for the most part it was passe.

I think this problem is related to the game’s biggest problem: it explained /nothing/. The game kept giving me little bits of information about the town’s history, about weird occurances, about a set of murderers and lunatics who were kept in the hospital and prison. I was sure that at the end there would be some kind of explanation of how these facts tied together. I’d see how a confluence of evil men, evil spirits, and good intentions turned Silent Hill into the demon-infested pit that it is.

I didn’t. There was no explanation. Near the end, someone mentioned that, “You know, they say this used to be sacred land.” Well, great. I would have even settled for a footnote after the credits telling me that “THEY MOVED THE GRAVESTONES, BUT THEY DIDN’T MOVE THE BODIES!” I didn’t even get that. I got told that I scored five stars (our of ten, I think) and that I’d finished the first of several endings. At the end of Eternal Darkness, I was stoked to get the other two endings. At the end of Silent Hill, the idea of playing through it again was laughable.

I guess I just don’t see why people like Silent Hill 2 so much. It wasn’t scary, it wasn’t intelligent, and it wasn’t very exciting. It did look great, though. Well, to be fair there was one scene in which it was very clear that the mist was living in a recangular bounding box, but that was a short scene. Otherwise, the mist was fantastic.

I’m told Silent Hill 3 actually explains things, but I’m not sure I’m going to bother. Silent Hill 4 is in the pipe, too, I know, and looks interesting, but I don’t want to be let down again. Fatal Frame 2, I think, will be my next attempt to find enjoyment in horror gaming.

Written on April 4, 2004
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