Shadow of Phoenix

Respect for Games

Shade’s Review of Silent Hill 2

Posted on this site: Friday, March 25, 2022

Originally Published on Sunday, January 4, 2015 at https://shadevideogames.blogspot.com/2015/01/shades-review-of-silent-hill-2.html

Silent Hill 2 was released on the PlayStation 2 on September 24, 2001 in North America.
It was released in Japan and PAL regions at later dates.
Unlike Silent Hill 1, Silent Hill 2 is multi-platform.
It was released on the Xbox as Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams with extra content in late 2001 and early 2002 depending on the region.
A Greatest Hits re-release hit the PlayStation 2 in 2002 (2003 for Europe).
There was also a PC version, which seems to be a little difficult to find at a decent price now.
Unfortunately, the PC versions of Silent Hill 2, 3 & 4 have yet to be released on Steam or GOG.
 
Team Silent of Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo (KCET) increased from a team of 15 people for Silent Hill 1 development to around 50 people for developing Silent Hill 2.
The team for the sequel include: Masashi Tsuboyama (Director), Masahiro Ito (Art Director & Creature Designer), Hiroyuki Owaku (Scenario Writer & Drama Programmer), Suguru Murakashi (Drama Director), Akira Yamaoka (Sound Director), Akihiro Imamura (Producer), and Takayoshi Sato (Character and CGI Designer).
Keiichiro Toyama, writer and director of Silent Hill 1, left KCET after the development of the first game was finished.
He currently works with Sony Computer Entertainment Japan where he founded Project Siren, and created the Siren series and Gravity Rush.
 
Many fans name Silent Hill 2 as their favorite in the series.
I’m sure it’s due to the surprise revelation towards the end of the game, and everything leading up to that revelation is so well done.
I know the game was released years ago, but I’m doing my best to keep this review spoiler free just in case anyone reading this has not played it.
I will say that the plot is centered around new characters with the protagonist being James Sunderland who is grieving over the death of his wife Mary.
One day, he gets a letter claiming to be from Mary, and it says that she is in Silent Hill.
The letter prompts him to go to Silent Hill to find his wife who supposedly died three years prior.
It is a wonderful game, but it’s not my favorite.
I think Silent Hill 1-4 are all wonderful games, and I cannot pick a favorite.
I love all four of them.
 
I don’t think I got to play Silent Hill 2 until about a year after its initial release because I did not have a PS2 until then.
I know it was one of the first games I got for the PS2.
The only thing I really remember about my first time playing is that it took me weeks to play the entire game because it was so good at scaring me.
I would get to a certain part that would make me so uncomfortable, usually due to a sound effect, and I would turn off the game.
I was too scared to even care when I last saved my progress.
 
Once I did finish it, I loved the game just like the first one, and I loved that it brought something different.
Also like the first game, I did not understand what was going on.
I understood the surprise ending, but I did not know how the presentation of the nightmare and storyline led to the ending.
Once again, that intrigued me to replay the game many times.
In subsequent playthroughs, I understood the game better, and loved it even more.
 
The controls and gameplay are pretty much the same as Silent Hill 1.
They have been improved.
In my review of Silent Hill 1, my only complaint about the controls was that I had trouble with Harry running inside buildings such as the school and hospital.
Harry running on the streets is not much of a problem.
When he runs inside, though, I had problems with him running into walls.
I don’t have that problem in Silent Hill 2.
James seems to run more gracefully than Harry.
 
I do have a little complaint about the controls in Silent Hill 2.
The pause and inventory buttons are switched.
In Silent Hill 1, the start button pauses the game and select brings up the inventory.
By default in Silent Hill 2, the two are switched and it’s confusing.
Many times I will press select intending to bring up the inventory, and it pauses the game instead.
You can re-map the buttons in the options menu, but I usually forget about it while I’m playing.
It’s very annoying that the two buttons were switched by default, but I can’t count that as a negative since players can switch them back.
 
The graphics in Silent Hill 2 are very good.
It’s obviously an upgrade from Silent Hill 1 on PS1.
Both games have good graphics for the consoles that they were released on.
One thing I notice about the graphics in Silent Hill 2 is how well shadows are done.
When it came to the character and monster animations, Team Silent took advantage of both full body motion and facial animations.
They tried to make movements as realistic as possible.
In the Making of Silent Hill 2 video (originally released as an extra for the European release of the game), Team Silent explains how they achieved this.
I will post the link to the video below.
It is a great video of the team talking about making the game.
I strongly suggest, though, that anyone reading this that has not played Silent Hill 2 should play the entire game before watching the video.
 
Some people claim that the voice acting is not very good.
If you ask me, the acting is just right.
Acting in a lot of films and TV shows can be a little too dramatic at times.
The characters in Silent Hill 2 seems like everyday people, and the dialogue is like normal conversations.
Of course, Silent Hill 2 has drama, but it is not overdone.
 
The horror is presented differently than the first game.
In Silent Hill 1, the nightmare was constantly shifting.
In Silent Hill 2, the nightmare shift is more gradual, and the environment changes as you progress through the game.
Silent Hill 2 also has different techniques to scare players most of which have to do with the theme of the game.
There are new monsters that also reflect themes of the game.
 
Silent Hill 2 has good replayability like its predecessor.
It has 5 endings depending on the player’s actions (6 endings in the Xbox and PS2 Greatest Hits versions).
There are two extra weapons that are unlocked after completing the game once: chainsaw and hyper spray.
The difficulty level is divided between action difficulty (combat) and riddle difficulty (puzzles).
There are four difficulties levels for each.
Action difficulty has beginner, easy, normal, and hard.
Riddle difficulty has easy, normal, hard, and extra hard.
The extra hard riddle difficulty is hidden however.
I think it’s a great idea to divide the difficulty level for combat and puzzles.
It gives players more options.
The game can be played on an easier action level but harder riddle level and vice versa.
 
Again like the first game, the story presentation can make players replay the game many more times as well.
The story is not told outright.
Players must pay attention to the information in character dialogue, memos, and images.
Then put the information together like a puzzle.
All four games are like this, and it’s another reason why I love the games so much.
 
I highly recommend Silent Hill 2 to anyone especially survival horror fans.
A lot of people will recommend Silent Hill 2, and say that you don’t need to play Silent Hill 1 before playing the second one.
That is true, but I recommend playing Silent Hill 1 and then 2.
If you want to better understand the Silent Hill storyline then Silent Hill 1 is a good introduction to the town, and Silent Hill 2 adds to it especially information on the town’s history.
Keep in mind that it will probably take multiple playthroughs, and some examination the information in the games to better understand what is going in the town.
 
For anyone looking for Silent Hill 2, you’re probably more likely to find it on PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
If you want the extra content then the Xbox version and the PS2 Greatest Hits re-release are the best to get.
There was a Silent Hill HD Collection containing Silent Hill 2 & 3 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 released in 2012, but I do not recommend that version.
Both games in the collection are bad ports with so many glitches, missing or messed up sound effects, and many other issues.
The characters voices in both games were also re-recorded with different actors, and the characters don’t sound the way they should.
The good thing is that Silent Hill 2 has the option for the original voices.
Silent Hill 3 does not unfortunately.
Despite Silent Hill 2 having the option for the original voices, I still cannot recommend the HD Collection.
The ports are just too bad for me to suggest it to anyone interested in the games.
If you’re interested in playing Silent Hill 2, definitely buy it on PlayStation 2 or Xbox.