Konami got it all right when they release Silent Hill 2 in 2001. For a game that is now 8 years old, it holds up impeccably in this new, "Dead Space" age of horror games. In fact, it can be so unnerving, so unabashedly disturbing that X-Play (yeah, yeah, I know...) named it the scariest game of all time. And rightfully so, as SH2 succeeds in progressive dread; it almost makes the player refuse to do the things they must in order to progress. With it's cinematic (and notoriously unreliable) camera angles and sonically riveting soundtrack (a high point in the series), SH2 give weight to the idea that a video game can be considered art, achieving literature-like status as a classic of gaming.
Our protagonist, James Sunderland, a young man in a nondescript green flack jacket, sets out on a course winding through the warped town of Silent Hill, traversing both its fog-hazed and hellish dimensions in order to find his wife, Mary. James is astounded to find a letter addressed by Mary beckoning him to their "special place" in Silent Hill. With this in hand, and a map in the other, James sets out and encounters other wanderers like the suspicious Eddie, the disturbed Angela, and innocent Laura. Central to these secondary characters is Maria, a sensual, mysterious woman that bears a striking resemblance to Mary. As Maria accompanies you (for a time), James must combat the monsters that surround him with a flashlight, a radio, and whatever's handy.
[IMG]http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x155/askl2 3/silenthill2.jpg[/IMG] In
this case, a surprisingly badass wooden plank. You can swing this thing
while you're running, administering a crazed brand of manic,
indiscriminate violence to the inhabitants of SH.
Although I had seen an LP of SH2 on Youtube before, the actual gameplay
threw out enough frustrating camera movements and controls that had to
be grappled with to keep suspense high. At times, the sound of complete
silence can be more unnerving than the machine-like sounds that
accompany other rooms. The endless number of "Lock is jammed" messages
will make every room a godsend, no matter what it contains.
There are some negative aspects to SH2, don't get me wrong. The camera can be hard to deal with and at times you have to trust James is aiming at the enemy and listen for the differences in sound when he fires. Other frustrating things like reading the map (when you don't have a light or don't have a map of the present area, to which James opens up to a random map of Silent Hill) and the absurdity of some of the puzzles can be annoying, but can usually be overlooked (save for the camera "issue").
All in all, SH2 remains one of the most poetically horrifying survival horror games of all time. The sheer helplessness of your everyman character, dwarfed by the powers that be (actually closer than he knows) and antagonized by the persecutor that is Pyramid Head are a universal story that extends far past the twisted, rusting landscape of Silent Hill.