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Silent Hill 2
PS2 Reader Review by Chris Hirche
One of the most talked-about games for Sonys next-generation console has clearly been Silent Hill 2. Eversince the critcally acclaimed prequel was released on the PSX, gamers and fans around the world have been anciously waiting for the sequel. Now, almost a year after the US release of the PS2, Silent Hill 2 has finally hit the shelves. Since I live in Germany, Silent Hill 2 was one of the major reasons I got myself a US-PS2 and I definately made sure I got a hold of my personal copy as soon as possible. Because we dindt get to see much in-game footage of the game, I was especially eager to play the game and to see what it was like, but I really knew that it was going to be great!
Only one word to describe it: AMAZING! Especially the textures inside of houses and rooms are simply breathtaking, considering the fact that theres nothing pre-rendered here. As you aquire a flashlight pretty early on in the game, the true graphical work that has been done throughout the game starts to show: real-time shadow effects, your light shimmering on the sticky skin of the monsters and much more little effects add up to a truly spooky picture. Also, in my view, Silent Hill 2 has some of the best synchronisation and lip-animations ever seen on the PS2. What can additionally be said is that when running or walking the streets of Silent Hill, the great looking fog (which is mainly used to build up atmosphere, not to hide graphical weaknesses) perfectly adds to the theme of the game. The guys of Konami have really done an amazing job in this game, and I really had some jaw-dropping moments. If you look at Silent Hill 2, theres no doubt about the potential in Sony`s little black box.
Another aspect that makes this game so unique and amazing. If you played Silent Hill, you will certainly remember the spooky and weird sound and noise samples which greatly added to the games character. In Silent Hill 2, the programmers really have outdone themselves. A new sound system integrated into this game allows the gamer to experience a sort of surround-sound through a two-speaker TV. I personally played the game using headphones, alone and at night, and I swear: I have never played a game before in my life that had so many shivers sent down my spine. On every corner, at every turn, the sound effects combined with the theme of the game will have your heartbeat going nuts and you are certainly going to get goosebumps more than once. Be careful not to wet your pants (I really mean it!).
Well, I wont give away too much here, because as most of you certainly know, the story is about THE most important part of Silent Hill. Only this much: You assume the role of James Sunderland, wo recieves a letter from his wife asking him to come to Silent Hill. The only problem: your wife has been dead for three years! Compared with the prequel, the Story in Silent Hill 2 has a much more linear touch, something that is surely going to be welcomed with most gamers who have played Silent Hill, because many thougth the story was too mixed up and confusion, especially in the end. When you complete Silent Hill 2 for the first time, you wont have that "Damn, I dindnt understand anything"-effect, although there are certainly going to be some questions left unanswered (which is not a bad thing at all in my view). The story is really good and always carried on by astoundingly high-quality sequences throughout the game.
Nothing much has changed since the first part. You still control James from the 3rd person perspective, the only difference I discovered was that gamers can now switch the control type from 3D (the classic Resident-Evil series control) to 2D (like in most other 3rd person action-adventures). I was very happy about that, because I never really made friends with the Resi-controls. Concerning the gameplay itself, Silent Hill 2 basically follows the same guidelines as Silent Hill, the same "walking around dark corrdiors, checking doors"-stuff combined with lots of scary moments, some well set action and many difficult riddles, which leads me to yet another difference: while in most games, you can only coose the difficulty of the game itself, in Silent Hill 2 you can also choose the difficulty of the riddles, which really is a great aspect. Overall, as I already said, nothing much has changed, but you know what they say: "Never change a winning team!". In this case, this phrase absolutely hits the spot.
Silent Hill 2 has about the length of an average action-adventure. I finished it in about 12 hours (concerning the fact that I had difficulty set on normal as well as riddle difficulty, and that I never really had any real problems, like really being stuck at one riddle for an hour or so), but I think non-experienced gamers will take about 15-20 hours for completion. I still thought that it was pretty short, but another good thing has been addapted from the prequel into Silent Hill 2: multiple endings and extra items. This gives the game a very high replay-value.
This certainly is a must-buy, which will leave you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The guys at Konami have done everything right here and the expectations have certainly been met. I you liked the sequel, you will LOVE Silent Hill 2. But be sure about this: this game is NOT to be played by minors. It really is one, if not THE most spooky and psychic game on sale and as I already said: it will send a lot of chills down your spine, as it takes a hold of you from the first minute on and never loses its grip. Thank you Konami for one of the best games ever!