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Silent Hill 2 (PlayStation 2)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168579)
Written on  :  Dec 06, 2002
Rating  :  4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars

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Sprayers, four-legs, pyramid heads, and nurses... is this a dream?

The Good

You are not a super-duper kickass steroid-loaded special agent. You are just a simple man. James Sunderland. Just a man who lost his wife three years ago and now suddenly receives a letter from her...

As much as the story of the original "Silent Hill" was good, this one is even better. It is more personal, and especially the main character is much more appealing. It is easy to identify yourself with him... maybe up to a certain point.

The graphics are fabulous. The character animations is among the best I ever saw in a game, even in the in-game cut scenes the character look and move very realistically, in FMV sequences they look simply real. The backgrounds are wonderfully detailed, and there are some minor features that show how much effort was put into the game's graphics (for example, the fact that if James steps into blood, he will leave bloody traces on the floor).

The music and the sound effects are better than in the first game. But the most important improvement is the step towards true user-friendly controls and difficulty customization. The game allows you to choose between the camera-based (2D) and the character-based (3D) controls. Now guess which one I chose? Finally, I can play a horror-survival game while moving my character around normally, from MY perspective, and not from his! The camera is still a bit clumsy, but luckily, you can rotate it, and much more swiftly than in the first game.

Now comes the combat. Oh, the combat! One thing that disturbed me so much in the first game was its annoying combat. It all has been fixed here. There are four combat difficulty levels instead of three, and the easiest one is way easier than in the original "Silent Hill". The combat itself is not as clumsily executed as in the first game (although I found James almost as slow as Harry), but most importantly, there are less monsters... or so it seemed to me. And there are no those winged ones - I really hated them. Instead, you have totally creepy and cool sprayers, four-legs, and other fine specimens. The monsters look way cooler and more intimidating than in the first game. Because there are not so many of them, you are afraid of them more. Monsters don't make a game horrifying, the suspense does!

There are also difficulty levels for the puzzles, which is a nice feature.

The Bad

One thing I didn't like in "Silent Hill 2" was the repetitive nature of puzzles and the gameplay in general. There is just too much of the same. Okay, you are stuck in an apartment bulding, one third of the doors are hopelessly locked, another third is locked, but you maintain a vague hope of getting inside nevertheless, the remaining third contains puzzles, keys, and other useful items that will allow you to unlock the second third. To have one such building was okay. But then there is another one just like this. And another one. And then this another one again, but this time all with different items, puzzles, and clues, because there are two Silent Hills in the game, one dark, foggy, evil, and infected with monsters, and the other foggy, infected with monsters, evil, and dark. You see, the same building once again, that means again exploring each and every room and again solving puzzles, that slowly become monotonous. The clues are either painfully obvious, or too obscure. And why are those clues so blatantly scattered around the place? Some puzzles are so unnatural, that we can really see the designers behind them. Well, who cares. The game is so cool that you might forgive those little discrepancies.

The Bottom Line

"Silent Hill 2" is a great game. Beautifully crafted, with fine details, creepy, disturbing, horrifying, personal, suspenseful, and much more comfortable to play than the first Silent Hill game, this is indeed a masterpiece of the genre.