In 1999, the first installment of Konami’s Silent Hill franchise debuted to critical and financial success, so it was unsurprising that it would receive a sequel a few years later on the PlayStation 2, Silent Hill 2, which provides an experience mostly on par with its predecessor.
Upon starting a new game, players have a choice of choosing two difficulty levels, one for enemies, and another for puzzles. The adjustable difficulty for puzzles was perhaps a first in the game’s time, and would certainly be a welcome option in other genres such as role-playing games. Combat is typically low in scale, usually involving one-on-one battles between James and a mutant abomination, with a choice between melee and ranged weapons. The ability to choose between two-dimensional and three-dimensional movement is an improvement over the first game, with the only real flaw being the lack of clear life indicators for both sides, and the difficulty at times in finding items necessary for certain puzzles if the player doesn’t check everywhere.
Controls are superficially decent like in the first game, what with an easy menu system, in-game maps for most areas, and the aforementioned choice between 2-D and 3-D movement, although there is still the poor direction on how to advance at times, especially if the player misses a critical item, can lead to moments where the player gets lost and needs a guide to find out how exactly to advance.
The sequel’s story focuses on a man named James Sunderland who visits the eponymous town after receiving a letter from his deceased wife, with plenty of supernatural occurrences. The plot is a decent driving factor throughout the name, what with its general dark, scary nature and multiple endings, although the lack of in-game direction at times, and some occasional grammar errors in the dialogue somewhat affect the narrative negatively.
As in the first game, Silent Hill 2 relies mostly on ambience in the aural department, with little actual music, albeit decent sound effects and voice acting (although the occasional poorly-structured line sometimes makes it sound faulty). Despite the good points, there isn’t much to prevent players from listening to music of their own while playing.
Like its predecessor, the first Silent Hill sequel utilizes three-dimensional graphics, which, thanks to the PlayStation 2’s superior visual capabilities, look much better, with dark environs appropriately reflecting the game’s dark atmosphere, and the character models being decently-proportioned and realistic. There are some bland textures when seen close-up, but otherwise, the graphics border on perfection.
Finally, the sequel is fairly short like its predecessor, taking less than ten hours to complete, although there is the possibility that it could take longer especially if the player tries to do everything on their own without assistance from a walkthrough. The different difficulty levels and multiple endings enhance the game’s replay value, as well.
In the end, Silent Hill 2 is a solid sequel that hits most of the right notes, particularly with regards to its combat and puzzle mechanics, not to mention a nice story, voicework, and visuals, although it does leave some room for improvement in areas such as the poor direction at times on how to advance if the player misses something, not to mention general lack of music. The Silent Hill legacy, moreover, would last well beyond its first sequel, with, for instance, a high-definition remake of the game the following console generation.
+Mostly solid gameplay with adjustable difficulty.
+Maps are useful.
+Enjoyable story with multiple endings.
+Great replay value.
-Easy to get lost at times.
-Translation is rough at times.
-Not enough music.
The Bottom Line:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Playing Time: Less than 10 Hours