Former Silent Hill art director Masahiro Ito is unimpressed with the SH HD collection, and he’s not afraid to admit it. When approached by a Twitter follower with a series of side by side screenshot comparisons between the original and HD versions, in which the HD version has removed the game’s trademark fog filter, thus revealing the edges of the map and dispelling much of the game’s mystery, Ito’s response was, “It’s poor. It’s really a released version? Really?”
Ito fears that players who receive their introduction to the early SH games through the HD collection will get an unfair impression of the original games, which may be a truly valid concern. Check after the break to see the shots for yourself (HD version is on the left side).
Foggy, obscuring graphics were a commonly implemented trick in the earlier stages of the disc-based console era, when graphics were just getting good enough to show how bad they actually were. Graphics mattered less in the days of SNES, when an artistically done character sprite was more than enough to impress a player. Fog and darkness were used to good effect in early PSOne titles like Tenchu and, of course, Silent Hill, but these games came early enough that the masking techniques still seemed new and fresh.
The inglorious rise of games like Superman 64, where fog became a heavy crutch rather than a light filter, signaled an end to that era. Players called B.S., and when the PS2 and XBox released, the technology had finally caught up to a point where you could get FMV graphics out of regular gameplay. From that point on there has been a tremendous focus on graphical power — though, as anyone who has seen a George Lucas (or Michael Bay, or Stephen Sommers) film in the past fifteen years can attest, crisp visuals do not necessarily equal good art.
Sometimes, less truly is more.