Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Big Studios Can't Produce Good Horror Games

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 24 Apr 2012 12:00
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I did manage to have a quick look at the Silent Hill 2 HD remake. It was a very quick look indeed. Someone was playing it at the Mana Bar and I glanced over their shoulder to look at the shiny new graphics. Couldn't even hear the audio because the bar music was on. It was enough for me, though.

I haven't picked up the HD collection myself and don't expect I will because I still own the PS2 versions and PS2s haven't gotten any harder to get hold of. It's still one of the world's most popular consoles with still the best third party game library in gaming history. It was a massive disservice on Sony's part to abandon backwards compatibility in the PS3. They could've always just duct taped a slimline PS2 to the top.

All of which illustrates the pointlessness of it all. I mean, sure, maybe an HD remake of something like Goldeneye was justified because the original Goldeneye looks like the cast of the film were all trampled by horses, but Silent Hill 2 always looked fine. The realistic graphics were really good by PS2 standards because the fog and the low visibility allowed for better quality models without stressing the processor too much. An HD remake could never really have made it look any better.

It can demonstrably make it look a hell of a lot worse, mind. Before I saw it for myself someone told me that the fog had been taken out, and I thought, that can't possibly be right. Taking the fog out of Silent Hill is like taking the shark out of Jaws. It's worse than that, it's like taking out the celluloid the film was printed on. I thought he had to be mistaken, but sure enough, the fog effects don't appear to be there. There was still low visibility, but the scenery just sort of abruptly stops about twenty feet from the protagonist, and it looks awful. The other thing that struck me was that the colors were markedly more vibrant than I remembered. So they either redid all the textures with higher saturation or some kind of filter was taken off. Either way it goes against Silent Hill 2's grim, dismal atmosphere. This was a game where the save points were plain red squares because any vibrant colour stood out a mile against the miserable grey decay.

So the HD collection fails to faithfully preserve the classic Silent Hills for future generations, which is the only possible justification it could have had for its existence. It's upsetting, because I'm starting to feel that it might be functionally impossible for the triple-A game industry to produce a game like Silent Hill 2 anymore.

Silent Hill Downpour, then. I had a couple of other gripes about it I couldn't fit into the final video. For example, as with many Silent Hills your actions throughout the game affect the ending, and in this case you're judged as "evil" if you execute monsters. I only found this out after researching the other endings afterwards, and it struck me as terribly unfair. Of course I executed the monsters. In previous games if they were still visibly breathing they had a tendency to get back up and smack me about some more. I mean, stamping on a fallen beastie's head-like extremity is almost as iconic a part of Silent Hill as the fog, tell me I shouldn't be doing it and I might as well take the next bus out of town.

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