Game: "Silent Hill 2"
System: PlayStation 2
Published by: Konami
Review: Silent Hill 2 may not be as sheer-terror inducing as the original, with its endless "Oh my god run run run I'm gonna die I'm gonna die I hear a pterodactyl and it's getting closerrrrr" experience every time you step outside, but it more than makes up for it in mood and atmosphere, which it has in droves, and which make for a far creepier gaming experience overall. The constant tension of everything rushing to kill you in the first game was honestly more annoying than interesting, and while the slow shuffling enemies of the sequel won't exactly have you shitting your britches trying to evade them, they give off more of a creepy menace vibe that provokes more of a slowly built-up psychological response rather than the jerky reflex evasion of the original.
Enemies that you can walk away from are surprisingly creepy after a while, and when you're in the closed quarters of interior building hallways, they can be upon you faster than you'd expect. The game is slow to start--it's a while before you run into an enemy when you first arrive in Silent Hill looking for your dead wife who mysteriously just wrote you a letter, but soon enough you'll hear what will become an all too familiar sound as the first creepy-as-hell straitjacket creature slowly approaches from the mist.
There are plenty of other creepy monsters present as well, like the mannequin people and the fucked up nurses (which are all feminine for a symbolic reason that I won't mention here because it's more fun if you figure it out as you play). And of course the most dangerous baddie of all, Pyramid Head, who easily conveys the strongest sense of menace of anything in the game. When you see him, you haul ass or you die.
On top of the creepy monsters, there are all kinds of amazingly disturbing and exceptionally atmospheric environments as you explore an apartment building, a hospital, a hotel--all of which are fucked up burned out husks of what they used to be, full of scurrying monsters and unknown things lurking in the darkness. The game also involves a fair amount of puzzle solving and searching for clues, in addition to simply trying to survive.
And of course, I couldn't get through a review of this game without mentioning the phenomenal soundtrack. The Silent Hill series has some of the absolute best mood-setting music I've heard in any game. When it's not creeping the hell out of you with its discordant, scraping industrial noises, it's breaking your heart with painfully melancholy string and piano music. The music spends almost all its time on either end of the beautiful-ugly spectrum, with very little falling in the middle. And that's exactly how it should be.
I haven't really touched very much on the plot of the game, and that's because this is one I feel that it's better for you to discover yourself. I have only played the first three Silent Hill games so far, but of them I would say that this one is easily the best. It's a top-notch standout game in my book, because it's one of those gaming experiences that will stay with you for years after you play. There are few games produced in the last decade I can say that about. This is a MUST play for any serious gamer, not just horror gamers.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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