Silent Hill 2 Impressions

Konami showed the latest addition to its dark survival-horror series at its 1st Annual Gamers Day event in San Francisco and had CGI designer Takiyoshi Sato on hand to discuss the game's development.

One of the most anticipated games in Konami's 2001 lineup is Silent Hill 2, the PS2-powered sequel to its original darkly graphic survival-horror game. At its 1st Annual Gamers Day event held in San Francisco, Konami showed the early trailer for the game that was on display at the recent Tokyo Game Show and had CGI designer Takiyoshi Sato on hand to discuss the game's development.

The sequel takes players back to the quaint but horrifying town of Silent Hill but introduces new characters and a completely new storyline to the series. In Silent Hill 2 you play as a simple man named James, who, three years after his wife's death, receives a letter from his wife asking him to meet her in Silent Hill, the town where they first met. Puzzled and distraught, James has no choice but to follow the letter's instructions and journey to Silent Hill. But as we know from the events in the first game, Silent Hill is no ordinary town, and the events that eventually transpire there lead to some horrifying revelations.

The original game left plenty of questions unanswered, but Silent Hill 2 will shed more light on the mysteries of Silent Hill. Silent Hill 2 will explain certain events, such as the history of Silent Hill itself, and will reveal why most of the events of the first game happened. And though the storylines are different, the two games definitely tie together in a very surprising way.

Silent Hill 2 attempts to add new elements to the Silent Hill formula while staying true to the look and feel of the original game. Sato explained that while the PS2 certainly had the power to do away with the massive amount of fog found in the first game, the team felt it added the right amount of tension and atmosphere to the mysterious town. Tools like the steel pipe and the radio will also be carried over into Silent Hill 2 and should provide plenty of familiarity for returning players. Sato also explained that the PS2's capabilities will let the team add even more drama and tension to the game through realistic graphics, a wider range of actions, and more freedom when you're in Silent Hill. In fact, you will be able to explore areas of Silent Hill that were not accessible in the first game, which will give players who are familiar with the town's layout new areas to explore.

Sato pointed out that his design team has more of an artistic influence over this year's game. Last year his team was responsible for character designs and CG work, but this year the producer has handed over the tasks of character design, level design, and enemy design, in addition to CG work, to Sato and his team. As such, the design and scope of Silent Hill 2 will reflect an American influence. Sato and his team have been located in the US for the entire development period and have spent plenty of time scouting Midwestern American towns similar in size and scope to Silent Hill.

Not only will the graphical muscle of the PS2 make Silent Hill more terrifyingly detailed, but it will provide a stronger sense of horror throughout the game. From the looks of the CG sequences and in-game cutscenes that were shown in the trailer, Silent Hill 2 could be one of the best-looking survival-horror games yet. Additionally, Sato admitted that the development team has decided to leave its inhibitions behind and pack Silent Hill 2 with more graphic and sadistic events and symbolism, so the game will be significantly darker and more twisted than the original.

Unfortunately, Konami is not showing the game in playable form and is still only hinting at the game's final details. Silent Hill 2 is scheduled for a Q3 2001 release, so the company will have plenty of time to strut the game's stuff before then.

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