Thursday, October 27, 2011

Horror Review: Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2
Platform: PS2, PC, Xbox

James sits in a dilapidated rest stop bathroom, as he contemplates the events that transpired. His beautiful wife Mary sent him a letter stating that she's waiting for him in Silent Hill, a town they had vacationed to in the past. She's waiting for him, in their favorite place... But that's the problem. Mary died some time ago... So who sent James this letter? The answers can only be found in one place, The same place where Harry Mason had once been wandering around looking for his daughter Cheryl.... Once again we're lead back to the ominous Silent Hill.

Not your mother's Silent Hill......

If you've played the first Silent Hill and expect the sequel to be along the same lines, you're surely mistaken, however this isn't a bad thing at all. Silent Hill 2 is an engaging experience that places you in a nightmare / mystery that has you traveling around the titular foggy little town to discover the whereabouts of your dead spouse. If I could relate this to any horror movie it would probably be something done by Dario Argento like Suspiria, which places sight and sound slightly ahead of conventional storytelling. This is actually interesting, because the game's visuals are very 'uncanny valley' in terms of character modeling, and yet this strangely only helps fuel the creepy atmosphere of the game itself. The first five minutes of the game gives me flashbacks of watching the 1966 horror drama, Dark Shadows, which intrigues me every time I watch a cutscene. 

The use of  "Uncanny Valley" makes the game even more creepy ..
Sights and Sounds from beyond......

The town is deserted but their maintenance is top notch!!!

The enemy models are nothing short of high octane nightmare fuel. From the vinyl zombies that scurry like cockroaches when you beat them down, to the scary nurses, to the hulking juggernaut, Pyramid Head, who seems to show his affection for his fellow monsters in rather disturbing ways.

The audio is incredible. You can hear just about every little thing creeping up on you, from the extra set of footsteps shadowing your own that seem to stop when you do, or the groaning creatures, or the pitched down groans coming from above or below you in the dark other-world. Surround sound only compliments this disturbing experience. I found myself genuinely creeped out a bunch of times, and because of this I tend to look around a lot during days of heavy fog to ensure that i'm not being stalked by monsters. 

A hands on supernatural experience...

The Gameplay is very responsive, giving you a choice between the standard controls from the previous game or a newly refined 2D control scheme that takes away some of the clunkiness. You can also adjust the level of difficulty in the game right down to the difficulty of puzzles you have to face. Personally, I love this level of customization as it takes away the barrier of entry for people who might be interested, but have a hard time getting through the more difficult puzzles to fully enjoy this experience. The Map system has been refined as well, adding more markings to the map in a means of ensuring that you have a easier time getting around the town. Like the first game SH2 has multiple endings that are determined by your actions throughout the main game. 

Foggy with a chance of what the hell is that!!!

Come to me, James...

If you're into horror that doesn't just stop at monsters, and goes into the depths of the human psyche, then this is your kind of game. It's audio and visual presentation and new options and creatures streamline the experience of Silent Hill into nothing short of a survival horror masterpiece. Those who dare to venture into the depths of this sleepy little town will enjoy every minute of their experience, but please try to stay alive long enough to reach it's conclusion...

Next Time: We have such sights to show you....

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