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ups: silent hill music, new comic The Hunger, opens possibilities for comics on UMD
downs: bad navigation, not enough material

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The (Small Screen) Silent Hill Experience
game: The Silent Hill Experience
three star
posted by: Laurie Taylor
publisher: Konami
developer: Konami
view related website
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 10:24 AM Wed Apr 26th, 2006
last revision: 10:23 AM Wed Apr 26th, 2006

Click to read.The Silent Hill Experience displays the excellent concept of a UMD with additional game materials that can be explored in an innovative manner. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver either an interesting experience or enough material to warrant sustained interest. The Silent Hill Experience collects the Silent Hill comics, music tracks from the games, film and game trailers, and interviews with the game and film directors. These elements are interesting in themselves and the Silent Hill Experience makes for a convenient collection of Silent Hill related materials; however, there\'s simply not enough content and the presentation is lacking to such a degree that it weakens the Silent Hill Experience\'s limited value.

The Silent Hill Experience\'s interface is the first problem. It attempts to be intuitive and exciting by presenting a 3d interface that users must navigate using the directional pad to access the materials. This could be interesting, but it ends up being gimmicky at best and annoying at worst. Windows, in its circa Windows 3.1 era had \"Microsoft Bob\" which used this sort of interface design and required users to begin in one room of a house and to then click on objects to open programs. Navigating a space as an interface can be wonderful; after all, that\'s what players often do in video games. However, as Microsoft Bob shows, navigating space for no reason other than to navigate space is a cluttered and somewhat bothersome experience. The Silent Hill Experience even includes music videos that are \"hidden\" in this interface. Hidden amounts to requiring users to click X when X flashes on the screen inbetween areas that access non-hidden materials. The music videos themselves aren\'t bad, but the interface is irrelevant to them. Some hardcore Silent Hill fans may enjoy this interface, but it\'s doubtful that most will and doubtful that many will enjoy it after the initial novelty wears off.

The best of the Silent Hill Experience are the twenty music tracks from series\' producer and music composer Akira Yamaoka. The tracks can be accessed within one screen of the 3d interface and also play during the comics in the Silent Hill Experience. The Silent Hill Experience includes exclusive interviews with the Silent Hill film director, Christophe Gans and the games\' music composer, Akira Yamaoka. These are all well executed and interesting components, and diehard fans will definitely want to see them. However, these alone aren\'t worthy of the cost or space of a UMD. For fans of Silent Hill, the twenty music tracks will be the strongest selling point and these would be fabulous as online or downloadable content. The Silent Hill Experience also includes trailers for the film and games, as well as clips from the various games. These are another nice addition, but the trailers can be found online so the benefit here is mainly from a convenient packaging.

The worst of the Silent Hill Experience comes in the presentation of the comics. Many Silent Hill fans who aren\'t comics\' readers may disagree, but the presentation of the comics is vastly limited for comics\' readers. This is a shame because being able to read comics on UMDs is a brilliant strategy because it could help the comics market, provide a new and convenient way to read otherwise bulky graphic novels or delicate single issues, and provide a new way to read comics with additional media and interactivity. That said, the Silent Hill Experience largely presents single panels from the Silent Hill comics with word balloons that pop in while music plays. Sometimes the panels overlap as the comic progresses, sometimes the panels are panned, and some panels fade for the transition from panel to panel. This isn\'t a new concept. In fact, many very poor cartoons have panned and scanned panels while adding limited animations. And, documentaries on comics often feature close-up pans of single panels. This sort of presentation detracts from the normal pacing of reading comics where the interaction between panels matters for the overall reading of the comic. While the Silent Hill comics are interesting, and their sketch and water-colored art (like that of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith\'s 30 Days of Night) does look incredible on the PSP\'s screen, the format just doesn\'t work. Music from Silent Hill does play in the background to the comics, and that\'s a bonus considering the quality of the music. For Silent Hill mega-fans, the Silent Hill Experience does include a new Silent Hill story, The Hunger, which is a nice feature.

Overall, this would have made for an amazing collection of extras if it were packaged free with a game or even with the UMD release of the Silent Hill film because the content is good. Given the Silent Hill Experience\'s problems, though, it simply doesn\'t stand on its own. For all but the most zealous of Silent Hill fans, the Silent Hill Experience UMD asks too high of a price at $19.99 for its minimal content and bothersome navigation.

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