Review By: Jared Black
Silent Hill was something of a landmark title. Released
during the height of the original PlayStationís lifespan, it
was really the first survival horror title to offer something
different than the standard RE zombie-fest. Unlike the RE series
and itís generic sudden-scare tactics, Silent Hill
relied more on a slowly building sense of fear that truly struck
terror with most gamers.
critically acclaimed, the original Silent Hill was never a huge
best seller. Nevertheless, it did well enough for Konami to
start working on a sequel (with much more commercial backing
this time). The result is Silent Hill 2, an evolution of
the concept that made the first one such a hit.
around, youíre dealing with an entirely new cast of
characters. James Sunderlandís life is shattered whenever his
young wife Mary tragically dies. Three years later, a mysterious
letter arrives from Mary that beckons James to return to their
sanctuary of memories. That place is the town of Silent Hill.
Thus James sets out to return to their "special
place", and discover the source of the letter. Could it
really be that his wife is alive?
relies more on a slowly building sense of fear than quick and
cheap scares, it still plays largely like any other survival
horror title. The meat of the gameplay lies in solving a myriad
of different puzzles as you make your way through the town of
Silent Hill, as well as battling numerous monsters bent on
killing you. Unlike a lot of other games in the genre, the
puzzles are varied, unique, and very logical. In addition to
simply finding objects and using them in the appropriate places,
on several occasions youíll have to combine items to get the
desired result. These usually require you to think a bit
"out of the box", but these combinations always make
sense. The downfall to this type of game is that, if you miss an
item, you can quickly become stuck and confused. Thus, on
several occasions you might be forced to backtrack and press
"x" a lot until you locate that item. Fortunately,
this isnít too terrible as James will automatically look in
the direction of any item that can be picked up or manipulated.
Thus something hidden in the environment wonít be almost
impossible to locate.
puzzles are awesome, but whatís been the weakness of horror
games have always been the control schemes. Silent Hill 2 is
better than most in this respect, but itís not without its
faults. The best improvement is the addition of a
"normal" control scheme. For those of us who donít
prefer the typical RE-style control scheme (based on where your
character is facing, not the actual direction on the screen),
the included 2D control scheme is very welcome. The combat is
generally OK, but it feels somewhat clumsy with any hand-to-hand
weapon. Distances can be difficult to judge at times, and the
camera system requires a good bit of user manipulation. Despite
combat being a big part of this genre, a perfect combat solution
still hasnít been discovered.
gameplay itself is serviceable to awesome, but what has always
mattered in these games is the atmosphere and storyline. Itís
here that Silent Hill 2 excels. The storyline is
incredibly spooky and gripping, and the endings (4 in all)
actually wrap up the storyline pretty well. The characters in
the game all have their own unique personalities and
motivations, and are all fleshed out pretty well.
go a long way towards making this game what it is. Each and
every environment is detailed and accurately represents what you
would expect to find in that location. All of them are very
creepy as well. The lighting effects are simply amazing, with
virtually every light source casting itís light in a realistic
fashion. Not only do they add greatly to the mood, but they also
enhance the gameplay as youíll need to utilize your radio
(which indicates a monsterís presence with static) to locate
and destroy enemies. Most of the game is also spent in dense fog
and/or virtual darkness (broken up by the light from your
flashlight), which goes even further towards creeping you out.
Not only do they display technical excellence, but also the
general style of the graphics really impresses. Everywhere you
go, youíll be greeted with images ranging from grotesque to
insane, further creeping you out and adding to the ever-growing
utilized sound to a wonderful degree. Sound plays an integral
part in the gameplay, as you must use your radio to detect
enemies and get the jump on them. All of the voice acting sounds
excellent (even if the script is a bit off), and really adds to
the atmosphere. The sound effects are wonderful, as everything
sounds exactly the way it should. And for those things that have
no real-life counterpart (zombies and such), each has its own
unique sound. 3D-surround sound is greatly used, and sounds
excellent on even a simple stereo TV system. In one location,
dripping water sounded so real that I actually paused the game
to check my ceiling. Itís that good.
and sound are both technically excellent.
system is better than most survival horror titles.
inherent to the genre, the controls can be somewhat sluggish
- The game is
fairly short (8-10 hrs.), with little replay value other than
a few special items and alternate endings.
there are control problems with combat the creepy atmosphere and
tense storyline more than compensate for any control problems.
Silent Hill 2 is a wonderful horror title that not only stands
out from the competition but also manages to creep the player
out to a degree rarely seen in any medium. Just make sure youíre
in the mood for macabre.