Silent Hill 2 Review

Duke Ferris
Silent Hill 2 Info


  • Action/Adventure


  • 1 - 1


  • Konami


  • Konami

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now


  • PS2
  • Xbox


To hell with special forces teams.

I’m not a tough guy. I’m bad with swords. I know how to shoot a gun, but I’d

rather cook up some fettuccine in clam sauce with some fresh basil, capers and

a twist of lemon. For the most part, I’m a regular, run-of-the-mill game nerd,

though I do have X-ray vision.

But why is it that whenever I pick up a new horror game, they want me to play

as some sort of supercop? When I play a horror game, I don’t want to be a skilled

professional doing his (or her) duty. I want to be scared. I want to be terrified.

I want to have trouble sleeping at night.


when Silent Hill came out

for the Playstation, I was genuinely excited to be a regular Tom, Dick or (in

this case) Harry, and the game was better for it. And I was just as excited

about playing ordinary guy James in the PS2’s Silent

Hill 2
for the same reason. Now the Xbox version, technically titled Silent

Hill 2: Restless Dreams
, has leapt out from behind the bookcase, which is

great for Xbox-only owners, but PS2 players will find no real reason to spend

money on another vacation in the beautiful lakeside hell/resort of Silent Hill.

Either way, Silent Hill 2 is a terrifying, chilling, disturbing, and

in every sense scary psychological horror game. James was never able

to get over the death of his wife, Mary. Three years later, he is still an emotional


wreck of a man when he receives a letter from his dead wife, sent from Silent

Hill. Ignoring the obvious impossibility of the situation, James travels to

the town in a desperate search for his dead wife. He does not receive a warm


Silent Hill 2 takes place in a fully realized 3D world, but while the

game pushed the limits of the Playstation 2, we know from games like Halo

and Max Payne that the Xbox is capable

of more. I guess I didn’t really expect Konami to create all new character

models and textures just for the Xbox version, but I was really hoping they

would. Regardless, the characters still look good and the monsters are disgustingly

freaky, exactly like the PS2 version. In fact, running side by side, it’s difficult

telling the two apart.

The 3D town has every little detail, down to the little bolts on the fire hydrants

and the right names on all the street signs. And as the town gets more and more

twisted and you’re running down streets made of rusted fencing, leaping over

yawning chasms and squeezing in between blood-soaked walls, you’ll really miss

those street signs.

Fog and darkness are used to really heighten the suspense by not allowing

you to see those creepy horrors until you’re right on top of them. The game

also uses a sort of grainy effect to give it a home video Blair Witch Project

feel, and it works great. For those who hated the grainy effect, the Xbox version

lets you turn it off. But the real star of the show is the light. You heard

me, the light. The real-time lighting and the shadows that are cast by the multiple

light sources – including your flashlight – are simply astonishing and are one

of the few Xbox graphical tweaks that are improved over the PS2. I know it sounds

boring, but you’ll never really know what you were missing until you see this

game. Makes the dark oval that passes for Claire’s shadow in Res

Evil: Code Veronica X
look like a joke.


match the fantastic visuals is some terrific audio…at least if you turn off

that pesky radio so you can hear it better. Like the first game, you carry a

radio that blasts static when monsters get near. Not only does this spoil the

suspense and the surprise of the game, it’s a really annoying noise. But fortunately,

you can turn it off, and once you do, you’ll be impressed by every footfall

and every monster groan. The nerve-wracking music will stand your hair on end

as you become convinced there’s a hideous beast around every corner. It’s just


Still, Silent Hill 2 is not the perfect scare. The combat is still

a little sluggish, although it has been drastically improved over the first

Silent Hill. The programmer’s insistence that you must walk up and kick

every downed monster to really kill it will get annoying. While good, the combat

just lacks the precise edge of Resident Evil.

Also, the puzzles can get a bit obtuse. For instance…


I wandered around for nearly an hour checking every door before I finally figured

out that I had to drop the 6-pack of juice down the garbage chute before I could

proceed. A bit stupid; plus, it’s a waste of perfectly good juice.


But Silent Hill 2 seems to understand this. For the easily frustrated,

or the extremely patient, you can set the puzzle difficulty level at the beginning

of the game, which is a very nice feature. And with five different endings,

you’ll have plenty of time to try and recollect your wits for the next round.

The only real addition to the Xbox version is a new playable mission, which

is a pretty good addition when you think about it. While a bit short, you do

get to play as a new character: deranged, confusing psycho-chick Maria, whom

you encounter throughout the game as James. More Silent Hill mythology

awaits you.

So the Xbox version is pretty much the PS2 version exactly, plus

a nice dessert, and normally, I’d give it exactly the same grade. But honestly,

I ranked the PS2 game a little high. Perhaps I was originally a little overexcited

about Silent Hill 2, but I was just so creeped out at the

time. As I played more, I noticed the extremely low variation in enemies and

some other small complaints. So I’m going to give the Xbox version a B+, because

that’s the grade it deserves. In retrospect, it’s the grade that both console

versions deserve.

Resident Evil might have more whiz-bang, hotshot, S.T.A.R.S. commando

action, but for sheer terrifyingness (scareification? horrorocity?), I’ll take

Silent Hill 2
any day. Turn out the lights, turn off that damn radio and

you’ll see what I mean.



Creepy & disturbing
Great graphics
Freaky sound
No special forces commandos
Extra mission
Sluggish combat
Few enemy types
Some puzzle frustration