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A.P.I Review: Silent Hill
Developer: Konami OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Konami 1 Player
Game Type: Action/Adventure Memory Card
Review Date: February 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

It's just like waiting for a bus. For years we bide patiently for Konami to provide us with a half decent Playstation game... and then all of a sudden two come along together. Hot on the heels of the superb stealth action title, Metal Gear Solid, Konami install a little fear into our lives in the form of Silent Hill.

Whatever you do, don't go into this town! Unfortunately for Harry Mason, that advice is too late.

After a near fatal car crash on the edge of town, his daughter Cheryl has disappeared into the night. Waking from a disturbing crash-induced nightmare, Harry finds the town almost deserted and a young motorcycle cop, Cybil, watching over him. Cybil is here to find out what happened to the towns' folk. But is she a friend or something much worse?

So begins the mystery of Silent Hill. Immersing players in a haunting world of demons and dark, demonic imagery. Prepare to be shocked.


Silent Hill is a game for those who can wait no longer for Resident Evil 3. It's a horrifying action/adventure that will set the pulse racing and put the mind on constant alert.


"The fear of blood tends to create the fear for the flesh" and so begins the latest red hot title from Konami.

The CG intro is very Resident Evil. In fact much of Silent Hill is very similar to the Capcom classic, but that's no bad thing. Throughout the entire game a mixture of CG images are used to relay the gripping storyline. These visuals are expanded upon by using the 3D game engine to provide cut scenes of animation in a similar style to those previously only seen in Metal Gear Solid. Should you complete the game in entirety then hang around for the out-takes after the credits... hilarious and definitely worth sticking with it right until the Grande Finale (poor though that may be).

Back to the intro.... A black and white photograph of the happy family... Husband and wife pour devotion over their new born... A young girl stands by her mothers grave... An attractive nurse crawls from under the table... A glamourous cop flashes a smile that could break many a heart... Driving through the night, a man and his child... The cop overtakes on her motorcycle... The bike lies in a wreck... A girl appears from the darkness... It wasn't my fault... the car crash. These are the flashback scenes that introduce you to Silent Hill. Is it a dream? Is it a nightmare? Or is it reality?

To keep the frame rate up Konami have opted for two forms of surroundings. During daylight hours the dense fog severely limits the viewing distance while when darkness falls Harry's torch only lightens the close vicinity. Call this cheating... but it actually increases the tension ten-fold while diminishing the gameplay nil. Neither of these effects are used when Harry is inside of a building. Indoors the style is very similar to Resident Evil where certain areas are open to investigation while others are restricted by an invisible barrier.

I have never witnessed such realistic lighting effects as those displayed by Harry's flashlight. The background scenery responds to his every movement while the lens flare technique has been carefully implemented and not overused. For example when wandering around the back gardens of Silent Hill at night check out the neighboring dwellings in the background as Harry's flashlight scans the immediate area. It's so realistic.

When it rains you don't just get diagonal lines moving across the screen. It actually looks like real raindrops gently spitting before growing into a heavy storm that hammers droplets down to ground, exploding into puddles. Snow effects offer the opposite impact as large white flakes fall feather-like onto the surface and slowly melt.

The camera perspective is from the third person and may be panned to always offer the perfect view. In fact when fighting an enemy holding down the 'up' and 'look' buttons almost give a useful first person view.

The map system is far more helpful than that offered in Resident Evil. If a door is locked then a red marker appears over the precise spot on the map. Should an access open then a blue arrow indicates this for future reference. No more time wasting trying out new found keys out on doors that are already open. Also, should you discover a room with a puzzle that still requires solving then a note relating to this is written on the map.

Humor comes to the forefront when least expected. As you guide Harry through the misty streets of Silent Hill take a little time out to check out the scenery. After outrunning two skinned dogs and a flying pterodactyl I began taking notice of the graffiti on the walls showing messages such as 'RED RUM', the famous backward word that featured heavily in Stanley Kubrick's nightmare movie The Shining. Nice touch!

Sounds and Effects

The atmosphere that the music and sound effects generate is truly remarkable. The musical score has obviously been written to compliment the mood of the game as it increases the tension at just the right spot to install a little extra fear into your underwear. This gives the game an almost movie appearance and certainly aids the gameplay.

Careful thought over the sound effects has obviously been taken. Every footstep reacts to the specific surrounding. For example on a cold frosty morning the clumping sound of leather to sidewalk suddenly switches to a softer crispy noise as Harry boots breaks the back of each blade of frozen grass when he cuts across the gardens. Indoors the noise of each step changes dependant on the floor covering... smooth padding on the carpet, an echoing 'clip-clop' in the church and vibrating clangs on the steel grating.

At the beginning of the game Harry collects a radio. This may be turned off or sensibly left switched on. You see this radio is a very special devise that reacts when enemy beasts approach. A similar effect was used when the mad scissor man attacked in ASCII's Clock Tower.
Imagine the scene...
Harry runs through the streets with his vision ahead drastically impaired by the thick surrounding fog.
His radio begins gently vibrating... growing into a steady hum (as does the joypad when the Dual Shock is used to great effect).
Still you see nothing.
Moving a few paces backwards the sound almost disappears... but he must move forwards.
Easing him gently through the mist the harrowing noise reaches an almost deafening, high-pitched squeal before a pack of skinless dogs leap from the cover of trees to tear poor Harry's flesh from his bone.

One of the most tormenting sound effects is saved for those occasions where nothing actually happens. Once again, imagine the scene...
Harry has awoken in the alternative Silent Hill where everything is dark, blood stained and extremely creepy.
After slaying two or three knife wielding midgets he enters a dungeon.
Silence and darkness.
One step forward.
Two steps forward.
Silence and darkness.
Suddenly an almighty thrash of chains accompanied by a scream of pain that sends a shudder through your bones. Then...
Silence and darkness.
There is nothing in the room. Obviously some horrific act that is going on in the near vicinity... or is it all in Harry's mind.
Spine tingling stuff.


Selection of difficulty mode is required before the player takes control of the main character. Best try Medium setting first as the Hard mode is very tough. The fog is dense. "Cheryl, where are you?" calls Harry. Footsteps! The outline of a child disappears into the thick mist and the man seeking his missing daughter begins his chase. 'Beware of the Dog' is posted on the gate of a narrow alley that leads to the beginning of this unsettling nightmare. An animal lies in a pool of blood with it's insides turned out. Should have said 'Dog's Beware'... but of what? Moving further down the alley blood and guts are splattered everywhere. It suddenly get's dark. Ignite the lighter... it will do for now. A broken wheelchair? A blood stained trolley? A corpse has been strung up on the railings and the inner's have been rived out. Blood is everywhere. It's beginning to look like a wrestling match in an abattoir... rib cages... intestines... everywhere. Arrrgggh..... Attacked!

Harry Mason awakens on a bench inside the cafe in the town called Silent Hill. Moving him around the set soon becomes second nature (which is essential in a game that moves at such a frantic pace). In fact those who have experienced Resident Evil will already be familiar with the characters actions. Shoulder buttons allow Harry to aim his trusty weapon, look around and perform a tidy side step (strafe style). His normal stride is a brisk walk but holding the run button allows him to move hastily from things that go bump in the night. After prolonged running Harry will puff and pant, bending over as if to gasp for air. At this point the Dual Shock omits a gentle vibration to offer extra effect. Further disturbing realism. On the face pad is an action button, map display and torch switch.

Harry is capable of picking up objects, examining and storing them away in his inventory for later use. Weapons and ammo are gathered in a similar way. Of course these items must first be discovered in the vast 3D town that is known only as Silent Hill. To help Harry on his way he begins with a torch (for use when the world falls in darkness), a radio (that transmits a warning signal when an enemy approaches) and... (you guessed it) a knife and pistol. Upgrades include a shotgun and a rifle but courage remains your most important weapon. Of course a horror massacre would not be complete without several bladed tools. I discovered various axes and spears while the chain-saw would have been fun to play with had I found the gasoline to fuel it. Seek and you shall find. Progress may be saved by putting your mark on various notebooks of which many are scattered all around the town, but over-use severely affects the ending of the game. Be warned!

Okay, on with the objective. Harry must scour the massive playing area to discover the whereabouts of his missing daughter Cheryl. You can go virtually anywhere within Old Silent Hill including inside many of it's buildings but take care as the streets and housing are alive with many fierce monsters that constantly attack from both ground and air.

The biggest spoiler I found with Resident Evil 2 was the lack of thought that went into the puzzles. Well, lubricate those brain cells because you will certainly need to be on top form to complete Silent Hill. I completed the game on Normal setting in about eight hours playing time, but add to this over twelve hours pondering, dying, checking out ideas and replaying areas to get some idea of lastability. This works out about the same length of time taken on the first outing of Resident Evil. You then play it again on a more difficult setting as you desperately try to attain the perfect finale.

Enemies are wide ranging and attack in a fast and furious manner. The streets are roamed by skinless rabid dogs and flying reptiles with razor sharp claws. The buildings are haunted by knife wielding featureless infants, ghosts and zombie nurses that charge at you from the darkness like a raging bull. Occasionally you must defeat a boss character such as the giant maggot that later returns as a killer moth.

Each area must be played twice... once in this world and again in the 'Twilight Zone'. Visiting the 'other side' is the most disturbing part of the game and without spoiling the thrills too much I will say that the 'alternative' school is the type of place where Freddy Kruger would feel right at home. Silent Hill is divided into three zones where you will discover many other huge buildings to investigate such as hospitals, churches, sewers and amusement parks. There are also several smaller areas to unveil including a police station, school bus, a few houses and a motel.

Value for Money

I would think that most gamers would complete Silent Hill for the first time within a week of purchase. Should you become totally hooked then three to four days play time would be reasonable. Obviously taking your time to play it the first time and investigating every corner of the town is far more enjoyable and beneficial should you play it again on a higher difficulty setting. The ending depends on the state of your game statistics which provide ratings for shooting accuracy, saves, time and a star rating for your performance.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 I dare you to stay up late, switch off the lights and then try a few hours in the disturbing company of Silent Hill.

The atmosphere generated by the blend of graphics, sound and gameplay is remarkable.

It may not be Resident Evil 3 but it certainly worked as a stop-gap for me. In fact he only disappointment I had with Silent Hill was the poor ending.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 17/20


GRAPHICS: 18/20 I remember seeing this title for the first time at the '98 E3 show and thinking to myself that Konami may have something special going on with this game but little did I know just how special this title would end up being upon completion.

Silent Hill is a masterpiece in the horror game genre. It creates the perfect blend of fear and tension that will undoubtedly send chills up your spill and give you the "willies" on more than one occasion.

The storyline is a good one; you are traveling to a vacation destination with your daughter. As you are driving you see a little girl in the road directly in front of you. In an attempt to avoid hitting her, you swerve and crash your jeep outside of a town called Silent Hill. Upon awakening you discover that your daughter is missing and the town is mysteriously deserted...or is it....

As you progress through this dark and disturbing game you will encounter some very well conceived puzzles that take more than a passing thought to complete. You will also come across the dangerous denizens that now inhabit the creepy town of Silent Hill.

The graphics, while nothing earth-shattering, do a fine job of depicting the characters, the town and the overall environment. Everything flows along nicely and I had a real appreciation for the polygon modeling. It enables your character (Harry) to more easily interact with his environment and adds an additional element of realism when compared to games with pre-rendered (fixed) backgrounds. The cut scenes are exceptionally well done and expertly integrated into the game as well.

The sound effects are appropriately creepy and add the proper sense of fear and foreboding to an already dismal situation that poor old Harry has found himself thrust into.

This is a very well done game and has convinced me that with the release of Metal Gear Solid and now Silent Hill, Konami is really on a roll with their 3rd person games. With the Playstation entering what could very well be its last formidable year in the console business, it's refreshing to see games of this caliber getting released. Silent Hill's a keeper and deserves a spot in your Playstation library.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 19/20


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