Silent Hill 2 Review

The problem with Silent Hill 2 is that it's all atmosphere and no real scares.

Like most games in the so-called survival horror genre, Silent Hill 2 has a combination of unintuitive puzzles, confusing camera angles, and sporadic violence. The Resident Evil games at least had the good sense to take inspiration from zombie films so that the silliness and bad dialogue seemed like a necessary ingredient. Silent Hill 2 builds its nonsensical story on more serious subjects, such as child abuse, insanity, and terminal illness, so that the ridiculous plot and awful dialogue aren't as easy to enjoy as a campy B-movie horror flick.

The dialogue is consistently absurd.

What the game does have in its favor is atmosphere. Like the original (and superior) Silent Hill, the entire game is set in the eponymous town. The streets, which are constantly shrouded in a thick fog, are filled with potential terror as you run around, wondering what may be lurking just out of your visual range. The only respite from the haze is the many ramshackle buildings of the town, and the decrepit apartment buildings and hospitals adorned with broken lights, piles of refuse, and arterially spray-painted walls don't offer much solace. If Silent Hill 2 offered more scares to back up its impressive mood, it would be easier to overlook its faults.

In the game, you play as James Sunderland, a tortured young man who has come to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife. There, he meets several other strange folk who have equally bizarre reasons for visiting. They all speak in strange clipped sentences that would seem stylized if they weren't so awkward. Over the course of the game, Sunderland will solve not only his own mystery, but those of the characters he encounters as well.

Unfortunately, along the way the game descends into total incomprehensibility. The original Silent Hill had a point in which everything turned weird--what started as a somewhat straightforward horror story became completely surreal. Not to be outdone, Silent Hill 2 has two points at which everything gets weird. At one point in the game, an otherwise run-of-the-mill ghoul-infested hospital turns into a sort of pagan shrine, full of twisty roots and autumnal artwork. The second point involves a series of descending pits leading deep down into the bowels of the earth. While these pits may seem to figuratively represent Sunderland's descent into his own psyche, in reality, it just seems ridiculous that anyone would build a meat locker so far underground.

Silent Hill 2's puzzles are typical for survival horror games. They mainly involve finding some trinkets--a music box or a clock key, for instance--that you use in a device to open a door. There are ample "locked door" puzzles of every sort, and most areas will require you to run back and forth as you find keys and triggers that will open new areas.

Standing between you and the locked doors are a small variety of creatures. The game's creepy monsters are one of Silent Hill 2's real strengths. Among the creepiest are the zombie nurses and a thing with four legs (and not much else). The scariest of all is the monster known only as "Pyramid Head," a creature that looks like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, bloody apron and all, wearing an industrial sink for a hat. There aren't many different creatures in Silent Hill 2, but the few that are there are unique and add to the general atmosphere.

The monsters look really great, as does most everything in Silent Hill 2. Though the artistic design may seem a bit too bleak and tend a bit too much toward the sadistic for some, the game does have a distinct look, as far as games go. Unfortunately, the graphics don't compensate for the confusing camera angles, which from the very beginning are problematic. In the very first room, you'll be hard pressed to find the exit door. Things get better when Sunderland heads out into the open and the camera switches from static angles to one that moves around him, but it moves at an occasionally slow pace that takes some getting used to. Thankfully, the PC version of Silent Hill 2 at least gives you plenty of graphic-tweaking options and even lets you save the game anywhere.

Real-time lighting and shadow effects add to the creepiness.

Silent Hill 2's sound adds a great deal to the atmosphere. The industrial-influenced soundtrack is subtle, until something scary approaches and the scary music kicks in. There's nothing like someone banging metal trash can lids, or Sunderland's radio suddenly blurting static whenever a monster is near, to add tension to a scene.

But the problem with Silent Hill 2 is that it's all atmosphere and no real scares. Though there are a few good scenes--such as the first time you see Pyramid Head--it becomes quickly apparent that there aren't many startling, truly scary moments to support the mood. Silent Hill 2 has repetitive puzzles and an implausible story, and you need to play through it several times to get the "good" ending. Not even the game's foggy atmosphere is thick enough to hide Silent Hill 2's problems.

The Good
N/A
The Bad
6.2
Fair
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34 comments
ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

Ron Dulin was a senior editor for Gamespot waaaaaay back in the 90's and early 2000's who actually helped the great Greg Kasavin become the executive editor of Gamespot. But he was dead wrong with this review. "No real scares?" Ron, it's called 'surreal horror', dude. Did you ever watch 'Jacob's Ladder', the film which helped inspire Silent Hill? Get a clue, man.

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

He's joking about the dialogue isn't he ?Cause one of the many strong points of is game is voice acting.

ZombieGuyGeorge
ZombieGuyGeorge

whoa. good: n/a the bad:?  i mean seriously? the first two silent hill games are the only games i have been scared to, the kind of scare that makes you don´t want to turn the light off... and "no real scares"? no wonder why the hate is all around GS.

xxpohaxx
xxpohaxx

"The problem with Silent Hill 2 is that it's all atmosphere and no real scares."

That's the point of the game. Make people being scary of just playing the game!

xxpohaxx
xxpohaxx

The best Silent Hill ever made gets just a FAIR ??

TheKrustaceox
TheKrustaceox

2 years since my last comment and i'm still amazed at how this stupid monkey managed to post this goddamned thing he calls of review

Gialeko
Gialeko

Great game but the story wasn't as good as the first title.

Crazed8
Crazed8

I'm not gonna lie in the jail, the thing with the stall made me crap my pants and the story really got to me

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

Glad to know the ZombiU review is not the only one in this site to really show how their respective writers wouldn't know horror if it hit them in the face.

baszzer
baszzer

@1:10 badass dude!  while all his peers were firing the rifle with both hands... he does one-handed with style!

DuaMn
DuaMn

I really don't get angry with reviews, I just don't do that, but this review... It left me speechless. Silent Hill 2 is my favorite game of all time and I'm not just saying it. I've been in love with this game for as long as I remember now, but this review is plain stupid and I'm still angry about it today. I just can't understand how senseless someone should be to be able write something as shallow as this review.

shanethewolf
shanethewolf

Ridiculous review! The summary states there are no real scares. Did he miss the scene where James hides from Pyramid Head? That's probably THE most scary moment in gaming history and this is one of the best games ever made.

That said, this is also one of the deepest and most thought provoking games ever, and may well have gone over the reviewer's head. Better stick to button mashing and Resident Evil.

PyschoHunter
PyschoHunter

to whoever wrote this review :
you suck at reviewing horror games I bet you never understood the story cause you have your head launched up your ass you lost my respect as a gamer and you should print this page delete it off of Gamespot have someone else that understands it review it and then take the printed page and shove it up your ass right next to your head so you can read it over and over again and realize what an idiot you are.

have a nice day

The_Godfather_
The_Godfather_

this review should be an april's fools joke. otherwise, well...

Crazed8
Crazed8

No scares my ass this game almost traumatized me when I played it. The story was just phenomenal I really felt bad for all the characters. More games should try having a story like these.

kiligore
kiligore

This review probably will give you cancer or even worse .

SNOB49
SNOB49

"the ridiculous plot and awful dialogue aren't as easy to enjoy as a campy B-movie horror flick"... This guy is a jerk...

SilentResident1
SilentResident1

i seriously cant believe this guy? He commented on it being a ridiculous point in the game having a meat locker underground..... did he even pay attention the whole game? Sorry if symbolism isn't always plausible in the real world -_-

unikat
unikat

All atmosphere and no scares? This may be an old review but it doesn't make it's dumbness any lower. Horror should be about atmosphere and not things jumping out and scaring you, you can put that kind of scare in any game and it will work the same, even if the game is for children. Silent Hill's atmosphere was always the best thing about it. The way it slowly swallows you in as you proceed through game, making you sweat no matter how many times you've played it before...

TheKrustaceox
TheKrustaceox

I think they should fire the guy who wrote this by now. Nothing personal, it is plain business. The guy gives a low rate to a masterpiece claiming the story is ridiculous, when its obvious he didnt make a clue about it. 

 

God have mercy on this guy's dumbness.

sereda008
sereda008

Man, this is the worst review which I have read in my life thrown at the best game ever which I have played in my life. All atmosphere and no scares? Are you an idiot? Man, give me a break.

s4dn3s5
s4dn3s5

this review is ridiculous, this is the best version of SH2. Hope you fired the guy who wrote this POS

Madball357
Madball357

Calling the SH2 plot 'ridiculous' is the most idiotic statement I read in a while. What happened? Didn't Konami pay its 'dues' back in 2002?

leoburgatte
leoburgatte

Worst review ever. Ridiculous plot? LOL I think someone didn't understand nothing...

brazenotaku
brazenotaku

Why are the Silent Hill games getting lower scores on PC? This review says you can tweak the graphics on PC which is a plus and gives no negative.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

Ron Dulin shame on you and shame on this crappy review

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

I'm actually playing it now and half away into it and I do feel that occasionally the dialogues feel awkward. Despite this and awkward controls,the game really is amazing.Its not just survival horror but its also deeply influenced by the protagonist's psychology.Definitely manages to find its place with other amazing horror classics like Resident Evil 2.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@xxpohaxx If Pyramid head chasing your ass through the hospital basement - meaning lagging behind was insta death for Maria - only for him to kill her anyway when you reach the elevator, didn't scare you....you shouldn't be playing video games.

But that doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know about most people reviewing on GS.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@xxpohaxx Rofl, 6.5. Oh dat GameSpot. Bunch of non-gamers, I love it.

Silent Hill 2 More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 2
    Silent Hill 2 is a much prettier, somewhat smarter but less-compelling game than the original.
    8.7
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    Developed by:
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    Published by:
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    Genres:
    3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
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    Blood and Gore, Violence