News, and the latest updates.
Stories from the past...
Got a item of interest? Here's the place to go.
Your opinion always counts on how we can make GameSurge
Comments on our features, by you, the viewers.
Tweaks, reviews and a handy driver index highlight our newest section
Looking to buy one of the hottest games? We have it covered.
Get a advanced look at the games of tomorrow.
Find out more about the people behind your favorite game.
Need Help? We have a very large selection of walkthroughs now up.
A special section featuring the best in artwork and
The written word, by staff and viewers.
A bi-monthly column contributed by Mark H Walker, an independant writer in the Gaming community.
Pictures from around the web.
Our current hosting plans and features.
Who we are, what we do, our policies and job positions.
The Sony PlayStation, and beyond...
The Dreamcast resource, and more. Home of the DC Technical pages.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
by Bernie Schmalzried
The horror. The horror. That best sums up Konamiís
first attempt at the survival horror genre and I donít mean it in a bad
way. Silent Hill brings the survival horror genre to a new level,
as you are totally immersed in a world that is as familiar as it is terrifying.
Before I precede any further into my review, Iíd like to state that making
the comparison between Resident Evil and Silent Hill is not the most intelligent
way to go. You see, while the Resident Evil series relies significantly
more on action than fear, Silent Hill is quite the opposite as confrontations
take a back seat to the suspense and terror that make for what I consider
to be a masterpiece in video game design. Donít get me wrong, I
love the Resident Evil series, Silent Hill just does such a great job
of building up tension that it seems more like a well-written Stephen
King novel than a mere game. But can all of these great elements
make a game playable?
Silent Hill centers around Harry Mason, whose car swerved
out of control on fateful night, cause him to lose consciousness on impact.
He wakes up to find that his daughter, Cheryl, who had been riding next
to him is no longer there. His daughter is, unfortunately, all he
has to live for since his wife died of a mysterious disease, and he is
not about to lose her! He heads off in the direction of her footprints
leading into the resort town of Silent Hill, trying to shrug off the notion
that it is unseasonably cold, especially for it to be snowing.
Now, Harry isnít your normal hero. Heís not
running into this town eager to tare up any God-forsaken creature he encounters,
heís cautious, like any normal person would be in a seemingly deserted
town. Heís also not a weapons expert, which is evident when you
first receive a gun. You must have a very clean and concentrated
shot to make contact. Harry Mason is just an average guy who wants
to find his kid.
as the above would suggest, gameplay is very realistic.
You can find it easier to relate with Harry since he is a normal guy without
any extensive training to handle what he must encounter (I know I say
this a lot, but itís a point I feel is worth emphasizing as it is rare
for a video game hero to have such average qualities). Forget about
picking off the beasts of Hell from afar, if youíre not at least 5 feet
away from your target you will most likely miss it. I also find
it amazing the way that you become Harry, and react to the situation the
way he probably would.
One of the things that make Silent Hill so utterly
frightening is that it plays on your connection with Harry as a normal
guy to involve you in whatever is going on. Never before has a game
allowed you to become the main character so completely. Your nerve
ending begin to tingle as you follow a mysterious figure resembling your
daughter down a narrow alley, passing an overturned wheelchair as the
sky becomes very dark, very quickly. When I experienced this particular
part I began to say to myself ďItís only a gameĒ over and over again.
I was literally shaking with fear by the time this sequence was over.
I had to save and take a breather to digest what had just happened.
Now thatís quality game design.
What also adds to the gameplay is an intriguing mystery
surrounds the town. You donít know what the hell is going on, but
you gain more clues as you continue your search for your daughter, which
takes you all over Silent Hill. Thatís the WHOLE town. Not
just one building. You are free to roam about the town as you please.
One thing this game has in common with Resident Evil is:
Thatís right...PUZZLES! Wait! Donít click off of this review
yet! The puzzles are not all that difficult as they are pretty straight
forward, but are still very intelligent and well thought out. Since
you can carry many items at a time (far more than in RE) you donít need
to run back and forth so much to drop important items in a trunk, only
to run all the way back to get it again. There are a quite a few
riddle puzzles, which can be trying, but rewarding to figure out.
I recommend writing some of them down to analyze them and figure out their
Now, on to the monstersí AI! The monsters are
surprisingly smart, for monsters. The faster monsters will attack
you quickly, and if they take damage they will run out of view only to
attack from behind. Some are attracted to light and are more likely
to attack you when you have a flashlight on, but if you keep the light
off you can only hear what is right next to you. Sometimes the enemy
that is unseen is the most frightening. This is especially true
when inside the elementary school building you hear a faint squeaking
noise, and see what appears to be the spectral outline of a small child.
All of Silent Hill is not action, however. Oh,
there is monster smacking aplenty as you use weapons ranging from a lead
pipe to a handgun to fend off the hordes. Sometimes avoiding a confrontation
is more beneficial then just cracking some skulls with a big metal pipe,
For a game played from an ďinferiorĒ CD (*cough* N64
lovers *cough*) Silent Hill rarely has to load, and when it does itís
very brief. Even when switching to a new track on the CD, the music
loads seamlessly without any pauses at all.
Although the control may seem awkward to at first
because of its slightly slower response time than most action games, it
actually feels quite natural as you character can perform numerous useful
maneuvers such as a 180-degree turn, sidestepping, and walking with your
gun drawn. These control elements add great depth to the game as
you have a wide variety of movements rather than the ever-popular point
Few games have sound that can claim to have as much influence
on the game than in Silent Hill. First of all, Silent Hill boasts
an incredibly ambient soundtrack, adding atmosphere and suspense as the
music suddenly changes to fit what is happening. During these changes
there is no pause for loading, the track simply fades out as the new one
begins which is the result of some brilliant programming.
Ambient sounds are used throughout the game, be it
the shuffling sound of a skinless dog or the crying of an unseen girl
in the deserted hall of a vacant elementary school. My favorite
use of ambient sound is the sound of your radio when you are nears a monste.
Early in the game you will pick up an apparently broken and useless radio,
only to find out that static it picks up occasionally warns of a nearby
demon. Sometimes the radio is the only way to tell if there is something
lurking beyond the darkness.
Graphics are Silent Hillís only flaw. In order to
maintain a decent frame rate the resolution is low enough to produce obvious
graininess. I feel that the graininess adds somewhat to the broken
down and eerie feeling of the game, but those who wonít go near a game
unless it is the newest AGP, accelerated, alpha blended, 100 fps version
of Quake may not feel comfortable with the graphics. The graphics
donít hurt the gameplay, however, and a game that can still by enjoyable
after its graphics become obsolete is truly a classic. Plus the
graphics still manage to be as detailed as technologically possible to
make up for the low resolution.
Graphically, the game does have its up side.
The falling snowflakes, the light sourcing on your handheld flashlight,
the ambient fog, and the real-time generated camera angles and backgrounds.
Thatís right, real-time! Unlike RE, Silent Hill is totally rendered
in real-time and it works very well. The dramatic camera angles
also add immensely to the game.
Hmm. Almost forgot about the enemy design. The monsters
encountered range from small, zombie-like freaks, to the larger and more
threatening beasts, which would just take too long to describe.
High levels of detail can be seen on the enemies in both their outward
appearance and animations. Enemy motions are very smooth and realistic
(that is to say they move like I think they would move if they actually
existed) From the skinless dogs to the shambling freaks; the enemies are
as creative and lifelike as they are scary as hell.
Excellent gameplay, terrific sound, and outstanding control
and realism, and an intriguing storyline come together to deliver the
best horror game out there. Whether you are wandering the deserted
streets of Silent Hill or kicking a monster to make sure itís dead, you
are drawn into every aspect of the game. With several different
ending and a slew of side areas to explore you will be playing this game
for quite a while. Buy this game now, and a few pairs of fresh underwear
in case you plan on playing at night.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones
An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.