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Silent Hill HD Collection Review

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The hills are still alive

★★★★★

As a high-definition reissue of the classic Silent Hill 2 and its less successful follow-up, the HD Collection is a fine way for the uninitiated to see how the horror genre first captured the imagination of gamers across the globe. But be warned; this shocking double feature will only reward players who are patient enough to wrestle with the games’ clumsy, confusing, old-fashioned controls.

Whereas the latest game in Konami’s horrific series, Silent Hill: Downpour, has largely ditched survival horror in favour of balls-out combat, these vintage titles – originally released in 2001 and 2003 respectfully – are a reminder how the genre once looked, with a prodigious use of unsettling camera angles, gruesome attention to detail, and monsters that are terrifying because you generally hear their deranged shuffling before you clap eyes on them, making the experience genuinely unnerving. And even if you completed these Silent Hill adventures back in the day, this HD reissue is still worth checking out as the sharp graphics help to boost the fright factor in grisly locations such as Brookhaven hospital which look more distressing than ever, while the re-recorded voices also make for a creepier atmosphere as you’re not constantly distracted by the hammy acting that undermined the scares when the games first came out.

But while Silent Hill’s tense atmosphere has stood the test of time, the game controls are still flawed and deeply frustrating. Although the fixed camera angles allow the developers to direct and deliver bona fide scares, these stubborn perspectives often conflict with the controls and send players spinning in the wrong direction, meaning that anyone accustomed to intuitive adventures such as Resident Evil 5 will find themselves bumping into walls and running into danger as they try to figure out the basics of character movement. Flaky combat – which is random and imprecise when compared to more action-focused horror games – also makes it feel as if the controls are conspiring against you, while the lack of any secret extras in these HD reissues is disheartening and cheap, and a missed opportunity to reward those who’ve stuck with Silent Hill since day one.

More an enthralling history lesson than an indubitable must-buy, the Silent Hill HD Collection is still an entertaining way to see how horror games became a global phenomenon, and shows that even the most flawed adventure can still loosen your bowels as efficiently as a double-dose of Senokot.

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