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Graphics : 10.0

Silent Hill 2 is a fascinating, beautiful game. Through a series of courageous stylistic choices, the developers have created a game that is pure art. First of all, a special grainy filter is used to give this title the look of a horror B-movie shoot in 16mm. The cinematographic attitude of this title is also evident in the marvellous work done with the camera movements. The camera always follows the character with perfect fluidity and precision, while a continuous change in the camera angles raises the player’s tension. In Silent Hill 2, thanks to the wise direction and to the fact that you can change the camera angle using the stick of the Dual Shock 2, you’ll never find yourself in the situation of not being able to see what’s in front of James, like it happens in Survival Horrors with fixed camera angles.

Of course this is possible because in Silent Hill 2 there are no pre-rendered backgrounds. Konami’s developers seem to have always preferred real time rendered environments: and in fact this gives the director and the lead artists all the freedom of a film director.

And the environments in Silent Hill 2 are marvellous. While you are outdoors, in the streets of Silent Hill, the thickest, most realistic 3D fog ever seen in a videogame embraces the character like an evil, sad creature. The improvements in the hardware become evident here: the fog is no longer a way to hide pop-up issues; it’s something fundamental to the gameplay, an element that is a constant menace to James, something that moves silently in spirals and permeates the world of the game. Darkness and light are often synonymous of death and life in Silent Hill 2. Light effects are just gorgeous and the shadows cast in real time by the characters and the creatures are so real, scary, dramatic – so full of life, in their own way.

Silent Hill 2 looks like a real American small-town, something that closely resembles David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Every building looks like no other in the game, every road is unique and surprising. Inside the buildings, the developers have created a world made of darkness, blood, rust and decay. If in the first episode you were scared to enter that gloomy Hospital, this time you’ll be terrified. The quantity of details that is possible to see in every room is astounding, and from this point of view Silent Hill 2 really makes you think you are seeing a real place, where someone lived and suffered. The quality of the textures is always excellent: the artists at KCET did a maniacal, absurd job to give this game something previously unseen in a Survival Horror.

The creatures that populate Silent Hill 2 seem to be a part of the city, fused with the bloody walls and the silent fog. Their bodies are made of parts of other bodies, their skin seem to be devoured by a devastating disease. They don’t have faces and if they have one, it’s like if someone turned their inside out. The movements are always disturbing, sick, sexual. It’s as if these creatures are suffering in an unbearable way, as if someone is torturing them from the inside.

The “human” characters and first of all James, show the same realism used for the rest of the game. The models look much better than those seen in Capcom’s Onimusha. The hair, the eyes, the characters’ posture, the hands that feature magnificently defined and animated fingers are among the best seen in a videogame. During in-game moments, the movements of James, Marie ( a girl that he meets in Silent Hill) and of all the other characters that I don’t want to spoil are so real that you’ll be amazed.

Another great feature is the fact that the transition between in-game graphics and CG prerendered movies is never jarring. And the prerendered movies are just unforgettable in Silent Hill 2. The artists have created polygonal models able to show a range of emotions and facial animations that surprised me. From movie to movie, the game becomes more and more gorgeous, the characters become more and more believable, and your heart is completely absorbed into the world of Silent Hill 2.

Sound : 10.0

Akira Yamaoka is the lead artist behind the music and the fascinating sound effects of this series. Together with the peculiar graphic style, sounds conjure one of the most engrossing gaming experiences of all times.

Silent Hill 2 uses a new system called S-Force. Substantially, the S-Force is a 3D simulator that enables your TV's stereo speakers to produce a sort of surround sound. If you play the game on a Tv equipped with decent speakers the result is amazing. The realism of each sound effect, the strange sounds produced by the sad creatures, the footsteps of James in the silence of an empty room, the deep silence that reigns in the town absorb you from the very beginning of the game.

The voice acting is excellent, superior to the one of the preceding episode. James and Maria’s voices are some of the best examples of acting in a videogame. Silent Hill 2 is a very serious, touching title, and hearing James’ words full of the thoughts about his wife, his doubts, his fear will make you think and cry for him.

Silent Hill had one of the best soundtrack ever heard in a videogame but Silent Hill 2 is on a higher level. The talented Akira Yamaoka once again wrote a wonderful guitar theme for Silent Hill 2, but during the in-game moments the atmosphere is built only using environmental sound effects. The result is a world made of whispers, screams, metallic creaks and footsteps that come closer and closer in the dark.

Silent Hill 2 is not a brief game. To complete the game the first time, with puzzles set to medium difficulty, you’ll need about 14 hours; that’s surely good for a Survival Horror adventure.

Adding to that, you’ll never understand the story of Silent Hill 2 playing the game only once. As it happened in the previous episode, you’ll need to get all the seven endings to figure out what’s really behind the nightmarish events of Silent Hill 2.

If you want my suggestion, this is definitely not a good game for a rent, unless you want to ruin one of the greatest gaming experiences of the latest years. Yes, you can play Silent Hill 2 with the difficulty set to Easy and complete the game in 10-11 hours. But you won’t even understand what the whole game is about, you’ll not notice all the incredible details scattered everywhere.

Silent Hill 2 is a game that slowly grows into your mind and you have to feel and breathe the atmosphere of this title in the darkness of your room, by night, alone.

Overall Score ( not an average ) : 10.0

Every time I write a review I try to be objective. I think for several hours before assigning a game an overall score. And this time I had a lot of time to think about this incredible title from KCET. But we all know that objectivity doesn’t exist in this world. I’ve tried to describe what’s different in Silent Hill 2 from the classic Survival Horror game. In this way you should be able to make your own choice.

Once again, Silent Hill 2 is not an action based title, like any episode of the Resident Evil series is.

It’s in its own particular way a game that develops like a dream, or better, a nightmare. And dreams are strange, they move slowly towards a certain direction that you can’t understand.

If you are a fan of fast-paced titles, and you don’t like the idea that a game can be something different from a zombie killing experience, Silent Hill 2 is probably not the game you would have in your collection. The story is tangled, difficult to understand, surrealistic – in other words, the opposite of 99% of the games at present on the shelves.

But if you are able to play a game quietly, when you are alone at home, and you’d like to live an adventure that will make you feel pure anguish and fear, Silent Hill 2 will become one of your favorite games.

Silent Hill 2 is a powerful, fascinating masterpiece, surely the scariest game ever seen on a gaming console. One of those games where a great importance is given to the intelligence of the player, a game that can really move your fantasy.

« Page 1: Gameplay

- Harry (28 Oct, 2001)

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Dual Shock 2
8MB Memory Card
Release Date
North America
September 24th, 2001
September 27th, 2001
November 23rd, 2001

More screenshots of Silent Hill 2

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