The road to Paradise is closed for repairs. Review

Chris Hudak
Silent Hill 3 Info


  • Action/Adventure


  • N/A


  • Konami


  • Konami

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now


  • PC
  • PS2


The road to Paradise is closed for repairs.

Due to pesky regional release schedules, our European friends played Silent

Hill 3
weeks before we did. Europeans like to vent about things and,

fortunately or unfortunately, many of them have telephones. Even now, I can still

hear the voice of one French girl in particular, who despite her mastery of English

had to grope for her words (I can’t do a disgusted, female French accent too well,

so you have to use your imagination):Oh, Silent Hill 3. Oh, no,

no. You’ll see. It is’so”nasty!

I thanked her, politely wrapped up the phone call’and sat there in silence. And then I started smiling. Yes, we’d soon judge for ourselves. The game arrived the next day.


moreso than any other video game series, Silent Hill can be

called nasty. This third entry once again revolves around a basically ordinary,

believable person; no corny secret agents or “elite cops” here. Seventeen-year-old

Heather Morris (the series’ first female lead) is also more likeable than her

two bland-o male predecessors, having some attitude, some vulnerability and

even some snarky teenaged wit. When an adult character introduces herself to

Heather with a rather dramatic, Thespianic “I’am Claudia” (shortly

before which Heather has seen her entire world turned nightmarishly inside-out),

Heather shoots back with a mockingly-dramatic “So…what.

Heather doesn’t even start out in the town of Silent Hill. She’s just a girl

who wants to enjoy a day at a local mall. And then the monsters start

showing up, right there in the food-court, as it were.

If you haven’t had the “pleasure” (if that’s the word) of the Silent

series, then there’s one salient fact you need to know above all

others: the normal, everyday world can change at a moment’s notice, suddenly

shifting to a darker, uglier, nightmarish reflection of itself. Overall floor-plans

(as per the map) may remain largely the same, but commonplace rooms can become

blood-spattered torture chambers, empty hospital corridors become suddenly acrawl

with awful things that can no longer be called “nurses,” and the most

banal of city streets or mall escalators can suddenly be shorn off by industrial

barriers or black gulfs of inexplicable nothingness. And in terms of sheer amounts

of red present onscreen, Silent Hill 3 is also probably the

goriest, bloodiest game ever made.

We’ve seen dynamic, virtual blood-spouting many times before (“FINISH HIM!”).

We’Ave seen bloodied, static backgrounds (Resident Evil). But

walls that actually, actively throb and bleed? That’s a fairly new

one, at least to this degree. There are probably hundreds of video games one

would be well-advised to not play under the influence of psychoactives, but

Silent Hill 3 truly takes the cake’and then kills you with


The monsters are everywhere, their proximity only heralded

by the ever-increasing shriek of static from a malfunctioning pocket radio.

And not just your hulking, Doom-style video game monsters,

either, but really icky, nasty-looking ones that your eye can’t quite categorize.

Silent Hill 3 creature designer Ito Masahiro must have some

really juicy nightmares.

Mechanically, Silent Hill 3 is essentially the same as its

predecessors. Heather can wield an arsenal of weapons, including a switchblade,

a handgun, a shotgun, bludgeoning instruments, a stun-gun, a katana, and even

a sub-machine gun (it’s easy to waste ammo with this, but God, it’s satisfying).

Both the standard 2D and 3D types of control are available, the inventory screens

are almost identical (with the ability to access all previous clues and the

current area’s map, if you have it), and combat has been slightly improved.

Heather can strafe left and right as she confronts the horrors of Silent Hill,

and if she punctuates her attacks with well-timed, one-button blocks, the katana

is a surprisingly effective weapon, more than capable of taking down bosses.

It’s not easy, but it’s certainly possible.


what starts off as a normal day at the mall (gone horribly wrong) proceeds

to a tour of the town so many horror-gamers have played in’and died in. If you

made your way through Silent Hill 2 as James

(or Maria!), you’ll definitely revisit some old haunts, including the Heaven’s

Night strip-club (which, for your secular dollar, is still probably the last

place on Earth in which you’d want to get a lap-dance).

But the bulk of the Silent Hill experience certainly isn’t

“secular” by any means – in fact, there’s a lot of religion floating around

here. While Silent Hill 2 eschewed much of the

first game’s
occultic nature (in favor of a more internalized horror-tale),

Silent Hill 3
is filled with questions of occultism, belief and destiny.

It certainly feels much more like the first game, and in fact makes many, many

direct references to it, as well as references both oblique and direct to a

number of modern and classic horror movies. Visually, it’s obvious that the

creators of Silent Hill 3 have noted such movies as Adrian

Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder (one of the game’s new environments makes a blatant

homage to that film). It’s also obvious that they spent a great deal of time

perfecting the look and concentrating on keeping things immersive, evidenced

by the fact that the fantastic cut-scenes are all in-engine.

Aurally, sound designer Yamaoka Akira also makes his intentions and passions

known; the U.S. release of the game (unlike the Euro release) actually includes

a separate 25-song soundtrack disk. It might make you re-think the value of

the normally dubious “video game soundtrack,” as it includes not only gorgeous

female vocals
(a series first), but also mesmerizing

space-out tracks
and even dramatic, emotional songs that

slowly build to guitar-heavy rock licks
(redolent of something Slash

might have a hand in) that brilliantly incorporate recognizable musical themes

from earlier Silent Hill games. And despite one or two instances

of iffy translation, there are some really startling lyrics, too; here I’m thinking

of the powerful female singer’s voice crying for a miracle, imploring “The high

that is sending me, is most likely ending me.” Yikes.

Suffice it to say that Silent Hill 3 revisits some old themes

and locales, while introducing some new perspectives on both elements of the

first and second games. Those wading in completely wet-behind-the-ears will

be a little lost, and rightfully so, but even Silent Hill veterans

from way back won’t ever have all the answers’although if they survive long

enough, they will certainly be closer to the heart of the mystery.

Not all the quibbles of mechanics and game-camera have been completely ironed

out, but this is certainly Silent Hill at its functional best, despite the now

familiar gameplay. Occasional camera problems crop up, and oddly, time does

not stop while you are futzing with some of the puzzles. Getting bitten on the

butt by some hell-spawn while fiddling with a logic conundrum can be trying.

And Hard mode is truly hard, with a distressingly high monsters-to-bullets/health

ratio, and one or two really harsh puzzles. Hope you know your Shakespeare.

But you probably knew the dangers when you arrived here in Silent Hill. If

you’re more familiar with the second game than the first, you’ll doubtless find

the heavier occultic, religious tone a little distracting. It’s okay, though;

you will deal, or you will die. And the road to Paradise may be truly scheduled

for demolition. Proceed with caution.


A seriously creepy mind job
Excellent production values
Bonus soundtrack disk
Improved combat
In-engine cinematics keep it immersive
Very familiar game mechanics
No new gameplay dynamics
Time keeps running during some puzzles
Some camera/alignment issues