Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is a gloomy and atmospheric survival horror game, and it tells a bleak and harrowing tale of loss and tragedy. The game focuses on James Sunderland, a man who comes to the foggy town of Silent Hill in search of his wife. Playing from a third person perspective, players guide James around the haunted and dangerous town, solving puzzles and fighting horrifying monsters. The game creates a tense atmosphere for you to wade around in, and you're often forced to run instead of fight. As you explore the town of Silent Hill, you'll slowly reveal the terrifying answers that James seeks.
Although the game has no direct ties to the original game, Silent Hill 2 continues the trend set by the original game. The pacing is decidedly slow, as you lumber about the environment in search of clues. The game doesn't hold your hand too much, so you'll spend a lot of time roaming the foggy streets of Silent Hill. It's easy to get lost, turned around, and that plays a big part in the survival aspect. The monsters that lurk in the shadows are incredibly dangerous, and they will quickly tear you apart. You'll stumble across a few melee weapons (and even a few firearms), but combat is rudimentary and tough. Instead, Silent Hill 2 focuses on presenting some interesting environmental puzzles. Searching for key items and using them in the proper place is a main gameplay element, and some puzzles will leave you scratching your head. In that way, the game feels reminiscent of early Resident Evil titles.
The story of James Sunderland and his trip to Silent Hill is very dark and depressing. However, it's entirely appropriate for the tone and themes of the game. The town of Silent Hill is full of disturbing secrets, and so is James. At the beginning of the game, James struggles to come to terms with his wife's death, which happens three years prior. Then, he receives a letter from her, telling him to come to Silent Hill. Although his wife is long dead, he hopes to be reunited, and begins his harrowing journey. During your time in Silent Hill, you'll come across a few other characters. Some will join in your effort, while others have problems of their own. Objectives will take you to a variety of interesting and creepy locations, including a run-down school, an abandoned hospital, and more. The enemies you'll face are horrifyingly memorable, like the inhuman nurses with bandaged heads or the ghostly apparitions who peek through the fog.
As a horror game, Silent Hill 2 gets under your skin and stays there. The combat is tough, and that's partially because of the dated controls. However, the focus of the game is on its narrative, and most of the gameplay revolves around puzzle solving and survival. It's an intense game, and as long as you're okay with the exceptionally foggy graphics, you'll find Silent Hill 2 to be an effective and creepy game. Some puzzles may stump you, and you'll probably find enemies infuriating, but the story is worthwhile and the end rewarding. If you have the heart for it, Silent Hill 2 will definitely scare you, but you'll have a blast while you play.
Download Silent Hill 2
We just got the first shots of the sequel to Konami's seminal horror adventure, and even though it's not due 'til next year it already looks more disturbing than the first game (and that's saying something!). Part Two features an all-new story and cast of characters, but takes place in the same resort community (called Silent Hill, duh) as the first game. You play James Sanderland, a middle-aged joe who receives a letter from his wife asking him to meet her at Silent Hill. The catch? His wife has been dead for three years. If you thought Konami would get rid of all that fog on the PS2, think again: The creators said the sequel will retain the trademark misty look to keep the suspense (and no doubt frame-rate) high. They are also promising a better balance of challenge than the notoriously difficult first game.
Your name is James -- James Sunderland. You are just a normal, average guy. Three years ago, your wife Mary died from a mysterious illness that has left you devastated and in a perpetual state of mourning. Then one day you receive a letter in the mail... from your supposedly dead wife. You are summoned to find the truth behind the letter and hopefully uncover the mystery behind Silent Hill.
Fans of the original Silent Hill on PSX should rejoice as a new adventure in the creepy town has arrived. This game was one of the first to showcase the PS2 hardware and the final version has been a long time coming. Was it worth the wait? Will it make you wet your pants in fear? Does it do anything to expand on the original game? It will take a strong stomach and nerves of steel to play through and answer these questions.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The first thing I did before I started playing this game was to go back and reread GameFabrique's review of the original Silent Hill. I played that game and remembered enjoying it but that was nearly two and a half years and about 300 games ago. After reading the review, it all came back to me. I remembered the good, the bad and the ugly of the original and had hoped this time around the good would be even better, the ugly would be even more ugly and the bad would be taken care of. Well, two out of three ain't too bad.
Let's start off with the bad and get that out of the way, up front. Unfortunately, the same problems that plagued the original game are still present. The game is still played from the 3D third person perspective and the controls can still be a pain in the backside. While the camera has improved, I still found the switching of the camera angle to not make it any easier to control James. It seemed like every time I would round a corner, I would see a monster and the camera would switch, making me completely lose my bearings and end up moving in the wrong direction. This was a problem in the original and it persists in the sequel.
Another thing that was singled out as a problem with the original was the lack of variety when it came to the enemies. While the enemies in SH2 are incredible (more on this later), there was not enough variety. There were only a handful of different monster types, which was a disappointment. With the cool modeling they used, I really wanted to see more.
A final note on the downside was the difficulty in locating items. The game is very dark and the visibility is limited, so finding a tiny box of ammo can prove to be quite difficult. I will give the developers credit in implementing a very cool feature to help with this. If you watch James, he would turn his head and look at any items of interest. If there is a health drink in the corner, he will look down to the corner as you approach. While this is helpful, it is very subtle and often times I found myself wondering if he had looked in a particular direction or if I was just imagining it. Plus, some items just seemed to be placed in random locations that did not make much sense.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to what is good with this game. First of all, and most importantly, it is scary as hell. Think of this game as more of a cinematic experience than a video game. Everything from the music to the atmosphere is intense and will have your heart racing. If I were to give one piece of advice about this game, it would be play it in the dark and prepare yourself to be scared. I wanted to be scared and I was not let down.
The gameplay revolves around solving puzzles, watching cut-scenes, locating items and killing bad guys. It is a formula that was used in the original game and has been used in other games because it works well. Where the game really shines is in the presentation of the story. Cut-scenes blend seamlessly with the actually gameplay to the point where I was unsure when a cut-scene stopped and I was back to gameplay. The developers did a great job of using other 'human'? characters to drive the story forward and keep you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think you have found help, you are thrown a curve.
For the most part, the desire to see what was coming next kept me playing. There were times where I was forced to retrace my steps and comb every square inch for clues, which got a bit tedious and slow but was not too much of a problem. Due to a generous supply of save points, I was always able to save regularly so if I did die, I did not have to backtrack too far.
This is going to be a case of love 'em or hate 'em. For one, you play nearly the entire game enshrouded in fog or in buildings with no illumination and only the light of a small flashlight to guide you. If you don't like dark games, you better pass this one up and not look back. The other unique thing about this game is everything has a grainy look to it, similar to an old horror movie. This was intentional and really added to the effect. To be honest, I can't think of any other graphical effect that has had an impact on the atmosphere or feel of a game like this did. It does take some getting used to but after about 30 minutes, you will not even notice it. It feels natural.
I also must commend the developers for the incredible character models. Everything from the other 'human'? characters to the monsters was very detailed and believable, which helped keep me in the story. The voice acting was also decent, helping contribute to the cinematic feel of the game. I would also be doing a disservice if I were not to mention how twisted, demented and downright freaky the monsters are in this game. I won't ruin any of the surprise for you but just be warned, there are some sick minds behind this game.
Overall, I enjoyed playing this game. It was a little slow at times and the control issues were frustrating, but the great story, incredible atmosphere and just plain creepiness made it all worthwhile. Like I said above, to get the most out of this game, you really have to want to be scared. If you play in the middle of the day with all the lights on looking for an excuse to not be scared, I am sure you will not enjoy the game nearly as much. Kudos to the developers for taking things the extra mile with the level of detail and trying something different with the grainy graphics effect. It is nice to see something fresh from time to time. So would I recommend this game? Yeah. It is good, scary fun.