Review by Kashell Triumph
"In my restless dreams, I play that game: Silent Hill. Wait, did I say dreams? I clearly meant nightmares."
Despite Silent Hill 2 being the second game in the series that is the pinnacle of the survival/horror genre, it was actually the first game I played in the series. Even though I watched people go through the first Silent Hill, I was on my own for Silent Hill 2. I re-played the game recently, and now I feel it is time that I pay some tribute to this excellent game.
Back in Town!
James Sunderland, our hero, has been living the life of a solo man after his wife, Mary, passed away. Some years later, he got a letter from Mary saying that she was waiting for him in Silent Hill. Now, I don't know about you, but I am having a hard time believing that a dead person could write a letter. As anyone would do, James decides to head into the mysterious Silent Hill in order to find out what is going on and to see if somehow, somewhere, and someway his wife could be alive.
From the start of the game, I was hooked. I remember playing this game in the darkness and being absolutely shocked and freaked out by the events that unfolded during James' quest. What starts as a sort of mystery ends up turning into a plot of deception, betrayal, and love. James will slowly uncover little bits and pieces of what makes Silent Hill a truly horrific place to visit. While there may be some confusing parts, and certain things that do not make sense, the overall story plays out in true Silent Hill fashion.
Huffing and Puffing.
Traveling around Silent Hill with James is scary in more than one way. While the way James moves has been improved from the first Silent Hill, it is important to note that James is a very old man. Thus, he will get tired when you run too much. Since there is plenty of exploration to do, you will want to cover ground via running. But, with James getting winded every ten seconds, it makes moving from place to place difficult.
One important aspect of traveling is puzzle solving. Silent Hill 2 is riddled with puzzles and key items that will help you get to new locations. These puzzles can range from very easy to very tricky. If you are not a fan of puzzles, you can set the difficulty of them at the start of a new game. This makes solving them easier, and allows you to move forward with your travels.
Luckily, no matter where you travel, you will be treated to the hauntings needed to make your skin crawl. The town of Silent Hill is as foggy and creepy as ever. Even more creepy are the things you see and hear around town. Locations have all kinds of eerie things going on such as blood on the walls, rusty floorboards, drippy ceilings, and busted windows. Sure, exploring the town can get annoying when James needs to stop and take a breather, but while he is doing so you can take every dark aspect of Silent Hill in.
What IS That?!
While on the topic of taking things in, we might as well focus on the graphics. Even for an early PS2 game, Silent Hill 2 has some of the most crisp graphics in video game history. The movies that help advance the story can be called "life-like" due to the vast amount of detail put into them. When not enjoying a movie, you will see the normal graphics. As I said, all kinds of eerie things await you in gruesome detail in the various locations.
What is even more gruesome are the monsters you encounter. For instance, the first enemy you encounter is a monstrosity that walks on two legs and looks as though it is wrapped in a fleshy straitjacket. This acid spewing monster looks as though it is trying to escape from its own skin. Furthermore, Silent Hill 2 marks the introduction to everyone's favorite villain of Silent Hill: Pyramid Head. This imposing foe has a huge pyramid over its head, hands the size of dinner plates, the body of a Greek god, and a deadly butcher knife the size of a street light! The first time you encounter this monstrosity, you will be hiding under the covers. The sights of Silent Hill 2 bring this twisted tale to life in horrifically awesome detail.
Did You Hear That?!
Adding to the entire ambiance of Silent Hill 2 is a spectacular set of sounds. The voice acting was top-notch, as were the sound effects. These include monsters growling, guns blasting, floors creaking, and Pyramid Head's giant knife being dragged across the floor. Seriously, that last sound will scare the daylights out of you as you hear it coming in the distance. The music of Silent Hill 2 was nothing memorable. Most of the time, you will be hearing background noise instead of a song. Personally, this is how I feel it should go in a survival/horror game. Silent Hill 2 does a fine job of keeping the creepy atmosphere by letting you listen to the stuff going on around James.
I Will Kill You With This Plank!
The monsters in Silent Hill 2 are not a friendly bunch. While you can set the difficulty so you only encounter monsters from the story event, it makes the game much more fun being able to slaughter the abominations that come across your path. At first, James only has a plank at his disposal to bludgeon his foes. Later, he'll get a variety of melee weapons and some powerful fire-arms.
Unfortunately, James is not a fighter by nature and the combat controls show this. As expected, combat controls are a bit clunky and can take some getting used to. While there will be plenty of items for you to find that will aid James, using the combat items can frustrate fans of the action game genre. It is important, however, to remember that this game is based more on exploration and discovery, not monster combat.
Will You Escape?
Depending on your actions, you will see one of multiple endings when you finish off the last boss. Since the game is short, this will add plenty of replay value. Also, I mentioned various modes of difficulty. If the game is too easy, then you can turn up the difficulty a notch. Finally, after you beat the game once, you have the ability to unlock secret endings only Silent Hill fans can appreciate. Silent Hill 2 is often regarded as the best of the bunch, and it is easy to see why. Of course, like the other games in the series, combat controls are clunky and awkward. Furthermore, James is way too out of shape for his own good and this makes running around town a pain. Despite these flaws, any fan of survival/horror games should check out Silent Hill 2. With great atmosphere, an exciting plot, and dark secrets, Silent Hill 2 lets players return to their favorite town for a new, twisted adventure.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/27/08, Updated 03/03/08
Game Release: Silent Hill 2 (US, 09/24/01)
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