One of the scariest games I've ever seen.
As a huge fan of horror games it's pretty safe to say that I was really looking forward to this one.
Silent Hill 2 at first glance seems a lot like a revamped version of the first game and in many ways it is. The graphics have been obviously updated with the fog that surrounds the town all day being the first noticeable change. It swirls, changes direction and is completely volumetric. Lighting seems fairly standard until you get inside one of the dark buildings. Suddenly huge shadows are cast all over the walls by the light of your flashlight making for some of the creepiest visuals ever seen in a game. Seeing the shuffling shadow of a mutant nurse coming ever closer really gets your heart going. The monsters are some of the strangest and most bizzare creatures ever concocted. They have form but a form that doesn't quite make visual sense. Truely the stuff of nightmares. Sound is nigh on perfect with strange musical accompaniments that send shivers up the spine as well as some of the creepiest sound effects ever to grace my speakers. Definately one to turn way, way up. For example: At one point I could hear something very faint and it wasn't until I paid closer attention that I noticed that it was some kind of ghostly whispering. Little touches like that really add to the procceedings and often have something to do with the story.
Yes the vague, thought provoking story telling has returned but this time it's been much better written. There is a depth to the story that the first one never had and it's in this story that I feel SH2 truly excels. Easily this is the best story in any horror game to date and with multiple endings to find that are determined in an ingenious manner as you play, there's a lot to keep you interested. There are 3 immediately available endings plus a special forth one that you can get the second time through an an additional hilarious 'joke' ending that you really must see to believe.
The puzzles in this game are really good and the difficulty of both the fighting and the puzzles can be scaled according to your own personal liking.
SH2 may be great but it's not free of problems. The voice acting is for the most part pretty poor and really can be quite off putting with a game of this calibre. The lighting routine while it looks amazing, also uses vertex based lighting and so the light zig zags unrealistically across straight walls at times. James is also quite slugglish to control, particularly in combat. It can be infuriating when you are killed by a monster because James got stuck on something or was too busy standing in the one spot for 5 seconds after you tried to hit whatever evil creature was after your blood. The game itself is also pretty short despite the 5 endings. I got through the whole thing in 7 hours my first time through which is a little less sizable than an adventure should be.
The Bottom Line
It has its faults but it's still one of the best horror adventures ever made and a vast improvement over the original.