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Konami recently released a preview of the new voice work for the upcoming Silent Hill HD Collection. Due to legal issues with at least one of the original game's voice actors (specifically, Konami refuses to pay James Sunderland voice actor Guy Cihi royalties for their re-releases of the game on other platforms), Konami had to find new people to perform the voice work for the games. So now they've got two sets of people that they will need to play royalties to, and in the meantime, us fans get this:

I guess I should probably put that in context for those of you who have never played Silent Hill 2. Here is another video showing a comparison of the same scenes from the original game:

Nerd Rage Time!

Now, it's one thing to have to hire new voice actors to reproduce the performances. But these new actors sound nothing like the actors from the original games! Particularly James and Eddie. Their new voices are so deep and gravelly.

And not only do the new voices sound different, but they speak with different inflections, tone, and (most importantly) mood.

Now, I've already made my displeasure known with regards to the redone voice work. But that was before I had a chance to hear what it sounded like. Back when I suspected that Konami would find voice actors that very closely resembled the original voices.

Now, I'm just dumbfounded. Konami won't even pony up the dough to pay the original voice actors for the royalties that they are contracted to receive, and now they are asking us to give them more money and accept this abomination?!

Considering that Silent Hill: Homecoming, Silent Hill: Origins, and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories have already tried to redefine what the Silent Hill games are about, even the slightest change from Konami is disturbing. Especially since Homecoming based itself so much more heavily on the crappy Christopher Gans movie more than the actual games. I was afraid that re-recorded voice work could lead to changes in tone and mood in dialogue, which could lead to changes in interpretation. And since Silent Hill is already such a widely misunderstood series to begin with, that is scary.

This could just be another of Konami's insidious attempts to remodel Silent Hill to be what the new producers want it to be. I tolerated (and actually very much enjoyed) Shattered Memories because I didn't see it as an attempt to "reboot" the series. That game seemed to be an innocent stand-alone, off-canon addition to the series, and I really liked some of the design elements implemented by the creative team. But with every new iteration and remake of old iterations, Konami and Tomm Hulett are chipping away at the artistic integrity of the original games in the same way that George Lucas did with the Star Wars special editions. As I've said before, I really don't want to have to get into fanboy arguments with Silent Hill fans over whether James or Pyramid Head shot first, but it really looks like that is the direction this is going.

Silent Hill 2 and 3 did not need to be remastered to begin with!

First of all, these games did not even need to be remastered to begin with.

Silent Hill 2 and 3 were some of the best-looking games available on the PlayStation 2. The use of darkness and fog allowed the designers to put more detail and sharpness into the environments than most other games of the time allowed because they would only have to show a limited amount of detail at any given time. The character models and lighting effects (of SH3 particularly) are even comparable to some games released on the XBox360 and PS3! Heck, the character models in 2 and 3 on the PS2 looked way better than the plastic-helmet-hair models in Silent Hill: Homecoming on the PS3.

Silent Hill 2 and 3 still look fine!
Silent Hill 2 - Angela isn't lying
Don't believe me? See the screenshots below:
Silent Hill 3 - Heather in a bookstore
Heather in a bookstore. That's a lot of detail for a last-gen game!
Silent Hill 3 - Heather looking at mannequins
Heather's flashlight illuminates some creepy mannequins.

Keep in mind that if you click on the two screens from Silent Hill 3 above to view the full-size image, they are in 1024x780 resolution, which is high definition! Those screens were captured from the PS2 version of the game.

So if any game needed an HD-remake, it would have been the PlayStation's original Silent Hill (the first game). That game's graphics - although impressive at the time - became dated very quickly. It's cutscenes usually consisted of the characters standing around like cardboard cutouts speaking their almost laughably bad dialogue. If Konami wanted to re-make that game (in its original form, not the Shattered Memories "reimagingin"), then I could understand that. I might even be more willing to tolerate changes to the voice recordings and cutscene content - as long as somebody from the original design team was involved and all the original voice actors returned! I could live with that. That game needs a facelift. 2 and 3 do not. Not even close.

It seems like Konami is trying to scratch the first game out of people's memories completely. They already rewrote the origin story in the handheld prequel Silent Hill: Origins and then tried to "reimagine" the game in Shattered Memories. And now they are completely ignoring the first game when releasing a compilation called "Silent Hill Collection". It's not a "collection" if it forgets the first game! Especially considering how important the first game is to the third game's plot.

Konami, if you don't like Silent Hill, then stop making Silent Hill games...

A metaphoric slap in the face

So not only do these games not need to be remastered in HD to begin with, but the voice quality has actually managed to be worse than the original game's heavily-criticised voice work.

I will not buy this game. I encourage all Silent Hill fans to boycott this game and not give Konami a single cent for bastardizing these classics in this way or for screwing over the original voice talent.

To all my friends: If you want to play Silent Hill 2 or 3, come over to my house and you can play them any time you want - since, as you can see by the Amazon ads on this post, the games are not easy or cheap to find. I will gladly let you use my PlayStation 2 (assuming I can get it to work - it is old after all) to play one of my two copies of SH2. Do not under any circumstances buy the HD Collection!

Comments (2) -

08/27/2011 10:37:03 #

Hi,I dont usually comment on sites much but I have to say I 100% agree with you.I am a massive Silent Hill fan,but ever since SH:Homecoming I've felt Konami abandoned it loyal fanbase(A worrying trend this gen-Ridge Racer,Ace Combat,Elder Scrolls and more).Silent Hill for me ended with 4.I was looking forward to downpour untill I realised that Akira Yamaoka won't be doing the Music and KORN will be providing the games main theme.As it is Konami should stop destroying what is in my opinion the greatest Horror game of all time.To this day I still play them and listen to the soundtracks.As fo HD,I wont be buying it due to the awful voice work.A shame as the voice work in  2 really added to the games overall ambience.


08/27/2011 18:29:24 #

@Joe, I agree completely that the voice acting from Silent Hill 2 added to the game. The dialogue and delivery was awkward, quirky, and sometimes unsettling - which was perfect for the atmosphere that the game was trying to create. The "bad" voice acting was actually a benefit for a horror game about characters with serious mental issues, just like the cheesy dialogue in the original Resident Evil added to the game's B-horror-movie feel.

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