Monday, 26 May 2014

Silent Hill HD Collection: One of the Worst Games Ever Made?

The Silent Hill HD collection should be treated like what Atari. Inc did to the game E.T the Extra Terrestrial -bury the copies in the desert-

If you're one of the people who read the review on IGN, this was their summary for it.

Yes they are.

Silent Hill HD -brought to you instead by the craptastic HiJinkx studio- is comprised of only two games. Silent Hill 2 (which includes the born from a wish scenario), and Silent Hill 3.

Out of the six games that could have been done in HD these were the only two chosen. Most of the fans -myself included- felt like it could have done with one more game. Silent Hill 1, 4: The Room, origins and shattered memories. They could have included one of them surely. Right?

While this is not a reason not to buy the game it's still a valid point to bring up. Specifically the fact Silent Hill 1 wasn't made in HD. Sure it would have had to be completely redone from scratch no doubt but it stands to reason. If you're new to the Silent Hill games and play Silent Hill 3 you're going to be confused as the 3rd game is a continuation in the storyline from the 1st game, so you'll be missing out on key information. So having Silent Hill 1, 2 and 3 in it would have made much more sense than having just 2 and 3. New players won't understand the 3rd one without having to either A- buy the 1st one separately or  B- read about it, C-  watch a playthough of it.

Presentation and Graphics

IGN gave the presentation a 10 and graphics a 7. We beg to differ.

Problem #001 - Lack of fog.

Problem #002 - Edge of the map can be seen, if there was fog it would be obscured.

Problem #003 - Lack of fog again shows how awful the water is.

Problem #004 - Unrealistic rain effects.
I'd expect to see rain like that in PS1 games, but not in PS3/XBOX360 games.

No only does the graphics for the HD miss out important points in both games. It's not even as good as the originals PC's graphics. You can buy the original game for the PC, and with computers today you can have the graphics set to max and it'll look better than the HD collection does. See for yourself.

Problem #005 - There's fog now, but in doors. This appears in both games.
Problem #006 -  Flashlight effects barely visible (yes it's on believe it or not).

Tomm Hulett who was in charge of making this monstrosity stated that in the HD collection he could update the textures so it could look how it was supposed to look. He didn't make the original games so how would he know how they were "supposed to look" if they didn't already look like that?

Problem #007 - Textures appear where they shouldn't.
I didn't make SH2 but I'm sure that's not how Maria  is "supposed to look"

Problem #008 - Colour washed out.
Problem #009 - Roads look cleaner.

Problem #010 - Cleaner looking for SH3 as well.

They've even changed some of the games static images, cause they think it'd look more awesome.

Problem #011 - Covering up original presentation.

Pre-rendered cutscenes didn't escape this monstrosity either. What they did was upscale the cutscene, then stretch it to fit the new ratio. This resulted in the colours being washed out.

What's worse is that in one of the games most important cutscenes, they added a television set layer on top of the scene, but they didn't shrink the scene so the whole scene was still viewable, they just covered up most of it. In other words, over half of the cutscene is now not viewable.

Problem #012 -The majority of one of the most important cutscenes is now unviewable.

Another example, showing how much of the cutscene can't be seen in the HD port.

Another problem with cutscenes is the presence of the letterbox -or the abscence of it- is not consistent in these games.

For games the cutscenes either have letterbox (the black lines at the top and bottom of the screen) or they don't, and it stays that way for every cutscene in the entire game.

In these games however the cutscenes can't make their mind up, in one camera shot it's letterboxed, then in the next camera angle it isn't.

And sometimes the cutscene doesn't have a letterbox. When it really has to.

Problem #013 - Severe letteboxing issues.
Why can Harry's face be seen in the HD version?

Depth of field is another effect that is problematic in the games. Depth of field is a way of focusing on one area such as the background while blurring in another, like the foreground. In this game they don't have it at all in places where it should be and have it in places when it shouldn't be.

Problem #014 - Depth of field abnormalities.

Problem #015 - Blurriness missing.

Not just blurriness and depth of field is a problem in this collection, even simple shadows has proved too difficult for the makers of this collection to do them professionally.

Problem #016 - Pixilated shadows.



A 10 for sound, for the originals; yes, but not for this. Whoever was in charge of audio for these games shouldn't ever do anything audioish. Ever.

SH2 has the original voices intact but it also has the option to play the game with the new and supposedly "improved, more realistic" voices. As for SH3, sadly they only have the new voices; except for when Heather dies,  that scream is still the original one.

If you chose new voices for SH2 some cutscenes will still play the old voices underneath it can be heard easily, believe me.

Almost every conversation in the games with the new voices has an echo effect added to it. Wether or not they're talking inside, outside, on the radio, even the voice on the other end of the phone echos.

Strangely enough the flashback in SH2 has an echo effect added to their voices to help convey its a past conversation. However for some reason this is one of the few bits in the HD game where there is no echo effect, this would have been the perfect part to have an echo.

Also for voices, instead of attaching the audio to the characters so the dialogue will move with them, they've been left on one side and stay there. Originally if James was on the left and Angela on the right, the voice will come out of the correct speakers, when they swap sides they will still come out of the right speakers. Now the voices will come out of the right speakers but if they swap sides, the audio no longer will. It still comes out of the same speakers resulting in James dialogue coming out of the speaker where Angela is, and Angela's dialogue coming out of the speaker where James is. This severely takes away realism and immersion.

In Silent Hill 3 there is a sound filter in the cutscenes present throughout. Some cutscenes had the filter at about 20%, others 40%, others 90%. In the HD collection though it is only present for one cutscene, Heather getting hit by the train, any other time there is no noise filter. An effect that made Silent Hill 3 atmospheric.

For the opening of Silent Hill 2 the song Promise is preformed with an acoustic guitar. This adds emotion and also helps players sympathize with James and want to help him search for his wife. HD decided it was too boring, they wanted it to be more energetic by using an electric guitar instead, They probably imaged players upon hearing the electric one would be like "Yeah lets do this, I'm totally ready for this", instead of the acoustic which would have players more like "That's a shame, I'll help you find your wife" <<<< the way players are suppose to feel.

Not only that but other songs have been altered with too:

Laura plays the piano now sounds horrendous. It plays the three notes with a toy piano like instrument then echos those three note. 
Forest now has a bell added to it that plays deliberately off-key.
Null-moon also has a bell added to it that plays off key as well.

Another problem with the music that is constant is it's looping system, normally the songs loop part way through the song when it gets to the end or near the end, that way players don't hear it ending and beginning again . However in HD it loops all the way back at the start resulting in the music ending, silence then beginning all over again.

In Silent Hill 3 the music that accompanies cutscene have been swapped for no apparent reason. In the original one song will play during the cutscene, but in the HD collection it's an entirely different track playing, or even no music playing at all. This is a consistent problem that happens throughout the game.

Sound effects have also been tampered with:

In one of the scenes with Eddie it plays chimes with a random progression of notes. Now it's still chimes but it plays like someone slides from the lowest note all the way to the highest, making it seem child like and takes away some of the atmosphere the original sound created. Now it just lightens the mood.

In the meeting with Leonard water can be hard loudly, splashing as well as gears are turning. This builds up tension and increases fear. HD, the sounds not even there taking away some depth and realism the original gave us.  Also  Leonard's mutated body makes disturbing pulsing sounds, which adds more tension and fear. HD; it's missing.

Other problems include one scene, music playing then when someone gets stabbed (won't name for spoilers) it instantly stops. Still with no music the person gets stabbed again and the blades whoosh sound is present, the person stabbed makes realistic pained noises. In the HD music playing (and it's the wrong track to be playing for the scene), they get stabbed, music still plays. Music still plays, no whooshing sound effect this time. The noises the person who gets stabbed is now over the top and cliche sounding.

Monster sounds are a big problem too. In SH2 the lying figures sounds are mixed up. Originally they walk slow and the audio is slow footsteps in sync with their own, they crawl too, they do this fast and the audio is fast with high pitched screeching sounds. In the HD collection, they've been swapped, their slow walking is now paired with high screeches with fast paced crawling., and crawling is slow footsteps. This takes away a huge chunk of immersion and believability as the game feels less real.

Another monster with unrealistic sounds now is Silent Hill 3's pendulum monster. This monster would be constantly spinning and would make a groaning noise when it spins, it would stop spinning for a second and silence, start spinning and noise again. For HD though it spins at a different speed than the sound file, so what we get is a monster that spins, stops and spins, with audio that groans while it spins, still groans when it's stopped spinning, silence when it's spinning again and so on. It's movements in relation to the sound of it is completely out of sync and plays at the wrong speed.

In SH3 when entering an elevator in the alternative hospital the gates behind will fall down creating a loud noise that will scare people first time playing it. Now it makes a weak light tap sound, going from sounding really loud and startling to someone closing a metal gate quietly behind them

What's now loud, startling and because it plays over and over again for ages, annoying. Is when Heather walks over the metal grating in the alternative hospital. The noises could have just been swapped over. The noise for the gate sound slamming shut should have been the sound of Heather walking over the grating, and the walking sound should have been the gate sound. That way walking is realistic and fine to listen too and the gate slamming shut is loud and startling.

In Silent Hill 3 the sound effect that plays on the game over screen is used in the HD collection for cutscenes as well. It should never happen.

Also in the opening the iconic noise the Valtiel makes is still there but it's not muffled by other noises which are added for no real purpose. Not only that the cutscenes that the noise appears in now happen without the Valtiel sound, this takes away depth and symbolism of the plot with its absence in the HD collection.

Other noises are missing, originally Heather closes the door (off screen but we hear it closing), and Vincent turns round to see. In HD it's just Vincent turning round for no reason cause there's no sound indicating the the door was closed. There was originally a tape hiss when listening to Vincents cassette tape, that's not there anymore (but the echo effect is still present). The speaker effect used for the elevator scene, and for the haunted mansion tour is no longer present either, it sounds too clear.

The missionary in Silent Hill 3 makes a starling snarling sound accompanied with heavy footsteps. It too is missing in the HD version

For realism in one of the cutscenes it's raining, you're in a car and while you cannot see them you can hear the windscreen wipers going. It too is missing in HD taking away realism.

When firing a gun in both games speakers should be turned all the way down, especially for SH3, when you acquire the sub-machine gun, the audio for it will try to play loud even if you're speaker are not. It's glitchy and extremely muffled. With a handgun in SH3 when you shoot it should make one noise indicating that the one shot you fired's casing has hit the ground. Instead one shot results in sometimes 2 sometimes 3 noises despite you only using one bullet. SH2 is much worse but, one shot results in 20 or so (I haven't counted but the sound goes really fast).

The re-recording of voices for both games is utterly horrendous.  Here's a comparison.

A quick SH2 voice comparison

James - Originally his voice had a foreboding feel to it. HD, he sounds melodramatic now, sometimes jock like too.

Maria - Originally she had a deep, slightly seductive voice. Now it's sultry and too seductive.

Mary - Originally Mary voices sounded airy, light and weak, making hear sound very ill. Now her voice sounds heavy, dull and more like she's just tired in some scenes, over-reacting in others.

Mary & Maria compared - Originally they look the same, but sound different from one another. In HD, they look the same still but now sound the same too, this takes away a huge portion of the story, as the labyrinth scene is now skewered.  

Angela - Originally, she sounds emotionally distant, awkward sounding. Now she sounds less disturbed, and projects her inner dark-side a little too much now, she also sounds like her age now (originally she didn't).

Eddie - Originally, he would instantly go from sounding angry to calm making his mental instability noticeable. Now he uses a gravely voice, sounds tired all the time and groans far too much

 Laura - Originally a real young girl was used, and it sound realistic. Now they use a older woman who pretends to be a young girl, her voice sounds high pitched, whinny and takes a short high pitched breath after each sentence.

A quick SH3 voice comparison

Heather - Sounds like a real teenager, voice produces a variety of emotions, guilt, anger, sadness. Now she sounds like an anime voice, with a snide edge to her voice, when angry she just shouts, there's no anger in her voice anymore.

Claudia - Originally her voice made her sound passionate, judgmental and rapterous, now it sounds flat, every line is delivered in the same.

Vincent - Originally his voice suggested he was sly, easily annoyed, untrustworthy, found joy in dark scenarios, and had ulterior motives which were all made subtle as he would mock the other characters. Now the new voice doesn't carry over any of that personality.

Douglas - Originally, Douglas sounded like a 50 something year old guy, it was a realistic performance. Now his voice is rough and growls, a bit like batman, he doesn't portray emotion now with this voice.



In previous HD collections, if you were playing one game on the collection and wanted to play another game on it, you simple go into the menu of the game your playing and there will be an option to go back to select what game to play, or you select the option go back to title and the option for game select will be there. In Silent Hill HD however, there is no option for that. If you want to play the other game you have to quit the entire game, start it back up again, wait until the logos of developer and publishers and everything pass by then you can finally choose what game to play. It's time wasted, annoying and could have easily been avoided.

In both these games start and select are reversed in each game. SH2 the start button takes you into the items menu, and select pauses the game. In SH3 they are configured to do the opposite. As two separate games this would be okay, but in a collection it is most likely that you will play the other game and spend most of your time throughout the game pressing either start to do select or select to do start. This could have easily been avoided by making them both the same.

In Silent Hill 2 one of the worst problems is the delay that happens whenever the screen goes black, i.e. entering a new room, exiting the items menu, a cutscene about to play, and so on.

This results in 2 seconds of every cutscene being missed out. In one of the scenes James uses a tin opener to open a can. It then shows the static image of the tin open with lightbulbs inside. In the HD because the cutscene is so short it goes from you exiting the menu, two seconds of black then when it comes up you see the static image, the short cutscene is now gone entierly.

In the first cutscene with pyramid head, it shows Pyramid Head forcibly violating one of the in-game monsters. It then shifts to James seeing it happening then hiding in a nearby closet. With that two seconds of black, what we now see is black, then James walking in then hiding in the closet. Making a very iconic and horrific scene being excluded from the game.

People who play the HD but have never seen the original will not get the same level of discomfort as we did.

The games -more 3 than 2- are dreadful at running smoothly. I spent 5 hours playing SH3, but the end results said it was only 4hr20m. This is becasue in certain areas of the games it runs extremely slow. For SH3, outside and in the sewers are the worst for it. Noises do that as well. Play in slow motion.

Freezing is another main issue in these games. Yet again occurs more in 3 than in 2. And again this mainly occurs in the sewers and outside (Mostly at the Pete's Bowl-O-Rama area). This is a pain as the slow motion makes it boring followed by it freezing, meaning you have to reload the save, go in slow motion again and pray that it doesn't freeze again. Not only these areas, it has also on a few occasions frozen when Heather ate the Aplaophotis (the thing in Heathers pendant). Even on trophy notifications, and speaking of trophies. For defeating the last boss in SH2 it's description say defeat Mary. Most of the time out of the two bosses players can face, they won't be facing Mary but rather be required to defeat Maria. Making the description seem implausible and inaccurate.

In Silent Hill 3 there is an infamous scene in the mirror room in the hospital.

However in the HD collection the black vein like things that cover the room you're standing in, well sometimes it doesn't decide to happen. Sound effects and everything will still be there for it and play, but nevertheless the animation doesn't happen.

 Summary of Problems

Presentation and Graphics

Problem #001 - Lack of fog.
Problem #002 - Edge of the map can be seen, if there was fog it would be obscured.
Problem #003 - Lack of fog again shows how awful the water is.
Problem #004 - Unrealistic rain effects.
Problem #005 - There's fog now, but in doors. This appears in both games.
Problem #006 -  Flashlight effects barely visible (yes it's on believe it or not).
Problem #007 - Textures appear where they shouldn't.
Problem #008 - Colour washed out.
Problem #009 - Roads look cleaner.
Problem #010 - Cleaner looking for SH3 as well.
Problem #011 - Covering up original presentation.
Problem #012 -The majority of one of the most important cutscenes is now unviewable.
Problem #013 - Severe letteboxing issues.
Problem #014 - Depth of field abnormalities.
Problem #015 - Blurriness missing.
Problem #016 - Pixilated shadows.


Problem #017 - SH3 doesn't have original voices (except for death).
Problem #018 -  SH2's new voices play on-top of the old ones so words double.
Problem #019 - Echo effect added when it shouldn't be.
Problem #020 - No echo effects used when they should be.
Problem #021 - Audio doesn't follow characters around.
Problem #022 - Noise filter missing.
Problem #023 - Original music score has been tampered with.
Problem #024 - Music sets wrong mood and atmosphere.
Problem #025 - Music doesn't loop, ends and repeats..  
Problem #026 - Sound effects have also been tampered with.
Problem #027 - Sound effects missing. Taking away tension.
Problem #028 - Music playing when it should have ended.
Problem #029 - Wrong music playing for scenes.
Problem #030 - Characters can sound over-the-top.
Problem #031 - Monster sounds are messed up.
Problem #032 - Startling sound effects are now quietened down, or missing all together.
Problem #033 - Some new sound effects are annoying due to repeated use.
Problem #034 - Game over sound plays times when a game over hasn't occurred.
Problem #035 - Symbolism removed due to sounds missing.
Problem #036 - Realism dampened due to sounds missing or altered.
Problem #037 - Firing some guns can result in the audio glitching
Problem #038 - One shot from a gun doesn't have one casing hitting the ground (it double's the sound effect, triples and so on).   
Problem #039 - James now sounds melodramatic and jocular.
Problem #040 - Maria sounds overly serialized.
Problem #041 - Maria sounds tired rather than terminally ill.
Problem #042 - Both Mary and Maria have the same voice.
Problem #043 - Angela's inner darkness now sounds too obvious.
Problem #044 - Eddie groans all the time.
Problem #045 - Laura's voice sounds like a imitation of a child, high pitched and whinny.
Problem #046 - Heather sounds more like an anime character.
Problem #047 - Claudia sounds extremely flat, emotionless and every line is delivered the same.
Problem #048 -  Vincent lacks personality.
Problem #049 - Douglas growls every word in a gravely voice.


Problem #050 -  To change between SH2 & 3 you have to quit the entire thing and start it back up again. There is no return to game selection option.
Problem #051 - No controller mapping, start and select are swapped in SH2 & 3.

Problem #052 - Delay for every door you enter, ever cutscene that starts and ends, every time you enter and exit the items menu.
Problem #053 - Game does not run smoothly at all, jittering, glitching and slow downs happen often.
Problem #054 - Freezing occurs frequently.
Problem #055 -  Description for the trophy obtained by defeating the last boss will be wrong most of the time.
Problem #056 - Some segments of the game won't initiate or play out.   



Thursday, 15 May 2014

Michael Jackson's Xscape: An Album Jackson Would Have Been Proud Of

Deluxe Edition cover.

Keeping true to Michael Jackson's prior albums, this one was given the title Xscape; by taking one of the songs enlisted within that gives it an edgy quality. Jackson used this rule to name his past albums, such as Thriller, Dangerous and Bad.

Comprising of eight songs written between 1983 - 2001 these eight songs were recreated and produced by people other producers.

The album comes in different editions. Regular edition which has the eight songs recently reproduced to have a more modern feel to it. Deluxe edition has the eight redone songs as well, but on top of that they also have the same songs but they are the original versions with Micheal's visions of them.


1. Love Never Felt So Good
2. Chicago
3. Loving You 
4. A Place With No Name
5. Slave To The Rhythm
6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are 
7. Blue Gangsta
8. Xscape

From the first few seconds it become obvious that the reworked songs have been carefully composed to sound like Michael himself would have produced them, and to sound like it came from his past albums such as 80s and 90s. 
Relying heavily on synthesizers accompanied with a variety of a clapping beats, finger snapping and percussion, each song would have made Jackson proud, they truly outdid themselves at envisioning his style in a bid to recapture the 80s-90s classics while still sounding modern.

The album itself starts off with throwback nostalgia, giving off a strong 80s disco vibe. It sounds like a typical MJ song straight from the days of such hits as Thriller and Bad. Songs with funky beats provide a familiar -but not overdone- atmosphere taking you back a couple of decades. 
It then begins a descent into songs that while they are simplistic in nature, they're still brilliant, pianos and a simple beat accompanied with soft, soothing vocals produces a relaxed ambiance that could be a great complement to his early 90s 'Remember The Time'. However nostalgia doesn't stop there as 'A Place With No Name' bears a significant resemblance to 'A Horse With No Name' (a 1972 song by the band America).


The produces did an amazing job recreating the music styles of Jackson taking note of instruments, way they are played, melodies incorporated and bring it all together to make one of the best posthumous albums to date.