The upcoming Silent Hill HD Collection is not really a collection, nor much of an HD Collection. Bundling two games together used to be called a … well, bundle. Collections generally consist of all games in a particular series, but sometimes a subset instead. However, Silent Hill HD Collection contains only two games, Silent Hill 2 & 3. It isn’t a collection of Silent Hill games, since it doesn’t contain any of the newest games. It isn’t a collection of Team Silent games since it doesn’t contain the original Silent Hill. Nor is it even a collection of PS2-era, Team Silent, Silent Hill games, since it doesn’t include Silent Hill 4. Regardless of how people feel about any of these games, a collection should contain them. I don’t like any of the Aliens films after Alien 3 (after the second film if you’re talking the Alien 3 Theatrical version), but I kind of expect Alien Anthology to have Alien Resurrection in it to act as a dust gathering device. You don’t have a Christopher Lee’s Dracula collection and miss out Dracula Prince of Darkness, even if he did hiss his way through the entire film.
It isn’t really an HD thing either, really, it’s a back-port of the PC version, there’s nothing wrong with that of course, but it seems a little dishonest to have HD in the title. That suggests its remastered, yet when you compare porting the PC version to this generation’s consoles to the amount of work that went into making Super Street Fighter 2: HD Remix, with redrawn graphics and re-recorded sound (to be fair some Silent Hill 2 stuff is re-recorded, but only due to a contractual dispute – not because there is something in the original soundtrack that needs improving) it doesn’t seem like an equal achievement, to put it bluntly.
Really, it’s more of a Silent Hill 2 & 3 bundle.
The way I’ve been talking about it, you’d think I don’t like it, wouldn’t you? I do though, I’ll be getting it on release. I love Silent Hill!
Mostly it’s the opportunity to play Silent Hill 2 in widescreen. Such a small thing. I’ve never been as much of a fan of Silent Hill 3, but I’ll undoubtedly give it another playthrough.
What I do think is a terrible shame is the conspicuously absent Silent Hill 4: The Room. It may not have done the best on release, but I think it’s one of those rare games that gets better not only with a little age, but also with replay. Whilst I’ve always liked Silent Hill 4, the longer I own them all, the more I like Silent Hill 4, and the worse Silent Hill 1 looks, and the shorter Silent Hill 3 Feels (just over six hours long). Right now it seems that my order of preference is 2,4,1,3 (from the original four). Mostly because of the things Silent Hill 4 was criticised for in the first place, its departures from the established games, how different it felt, the concentration on creepy elements rather than more expected (in a Silent Hill game) aspects of horror etc. Whereas Silent Hill 3 in retrospect continued a story that was finished, made me dislike Heather quite a bit, killed off Harry, was painfully short, and felt too similar to the original Silent Hill without the newness, and too similar to Silent Hill 2 without the beautifully cultured and hard-won sense of loneliness and depression. This is not to say I dislike Silent Hill 3, but I feel it is by a hefty margin the weakest of the first four Silent Hills.
The Silent Hill HD Collection could have reintroduced a new generation to the painfully underrated Silent Hill 4 which many people have (or at least, claimed to have) not bothered with because of its reputation (really though, it has a metacritic score of 76 on PS2) as very poor. A game that wasn’t rated particularly well at release could have been appreciated as the better game it genuinely is at this later stage. Almost my entire circle of friends at the very least have expressed dismay over the exclusion of Silent Hill 4, and wondered why it is notably absent. The actual reason is rather sad, and quite maddening.
Siliconera directly asked Silent Hill series producer Tomm Hulett, why the Silent Hill HD Collection lacks Silent Hill 4. The answer they got was rather worrying.
“If you’re a Silent Hill fan you either love 2 or 3 the best. Here, you get both of them. Everyone’s happy. If they like the HD treatment, maybe there’s more in the future, but for now that’s all we’re concentrating on …”
Really? I doubt it based purely on my own experience. Review industries are notorious for misjudging things on release only to later recant, more famous examples being Ebert’s famous Bladerunner review, and many reviews of Fight Club. Examples the other way in gaming specifically, compare reviews of Prince of Persia to reviews of Assassin’s Creed 2 mentioning Prince of Persia.
I’m sure, for a start, we all know people who believe the original is still the best. Just a hint too. People don’t like it when you tell them what they do and do not like. If you’re going to talk about what fans think, then you should ask them, not, as I suspect happened, rely on release sales, or total sales.
Silent Hill 4 more than deserved a place in this Collection, and generally even those that didn’t particularly like Silent Hill 4, would still put it head and shoulders over later games in the now-franchise of Silent Hill. As it stands, the Silent Hill HD Collection is merely a bundle of Silent Hill 2 & 3 rather than the definitive Silent Hill HD Collection of remastered PS2-era pre-franchise Silent Hill games. Tomm Hulett’s attitude leaves me cold and hoping more people give games that were unfortunate enough to be judged unfairly on release, a chance.