Thursday, December 13

Silent Hill 2 Review

Available on: PS2, Xbox, PC
Price: varies online
I played on: PS2
Notes: I’ve not played the HD version of this game yet but I hear bad things about it so I will be reviewing it separately at some point.

Silent Hill is a town that holds a power dating back before America was even founded. The native American’s respected the land as well as the mystical power it held. After the United States was founded the town of Silent Hill was built and the power of the land was corrupted through years of the murder of native people, witches and more throughout American’s dark history.

You play as James Sunderland, a depressed and broken man left defeated after his wife Mary passed away 3 years pier from an unnamed disease. After receiving a letter from Mary saying she’s waiting for James in Silent Hill he comes to the town looking for answers. I have a few nitpicks with the character of Mary but that doesn’t stop me from loving the story told here. Silent Hill 2 is amazing as it lets you put things together yourself which can lead to more than one way of seeing the plot. Plenty of fans get annoyed over what’s canon to the rest of the series but Silent Hill 2 stands outside of the other games with the only connection being the town itself. Just enjoy the story for what it is and come to your own conclusions, that’s always the best way to enjoy art like this.

James moves around with tank controls making getting around a little clunky at first but once you get the hang of it then it’s as easy as any other game. Attacking is clumsy but purposely so as combat is supposed to be avoided most the time. If you have played Resident Evil or other PS1 era survival horror you will feel at home here.

The town of Silent Hill will lead you where it wants you to go so well that most the time you will think you’re going there by your own free will. The town is a character in itself and if it wants to show you something then it will bend around to make sure you end up right where you need to be. The subject of choice is also a big part of this game. It’s common for the game to ask you if you want to do certain tasks and although you can say no you need to agree in order to progress. The game still makes a point of asking you, however. You’re never really sure how much choice you have throughout this game and these moments where you get asked if you want to perform the current task make you question this further.

The horror is also wonderfully done with it lasting long after you turn the game off. I want to tell you about one moment that for me sums up what I love about Silent Hill 2’s horror. You find yourself in a bathroom with a cubicle door shut and you’re able to knock on it only to get no answer. Thinking there is nothing here you go to leave the bathroom only to hear a horrific scream coming from the cubicle but the door is still shut and you can’t open it. You never find out what happened behind the shut door and it’s never brought up again but the idea of something else not to do with James’ story lingers over you for a good long while.

Silent Hill 2 is a masterpiece. Everything from the start of the game to any one of the multiple endings feels purposely designed and tested to perfection. The graphics understand the shortcomings of the PS2 era consoles and uses these limitations to move the art design and horror forward making one of the best-looking games on the PS2. The voice acting ranges from B-movie corny to twisted and insane to some of the best I have heard in all of gaming. The gameplay while a little dated is still plenty of fun and certainly some of the best survival horrors ever made. The only issue I have is with Mary as her character only exists to give our male lead a purpose. She is killed off and we never learn anything about her other than she had some disease and that she died. This annoys me as she exists only in relation to a man and her only two actions throughout the game are to die and forgive James for his past. This would never happen in reverse with a male character so it should not be accepted from a female character. I still love this game and even the story it tells but this is why it gets a 9 out of 10 and not a 10 out of 10. I love Silent Hill 2 but it’s important to criticize the things we love so that they can improve in the future.

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10.

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