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PlanetPS2 | Features | Reviews | Silent Hill 2 | Page 3
by: David Hodgson | September 25, 2001


Send for Mister Rubik, immediately

The game's conundrums range from the simple to the downright flummoxing, and its here where the game can wear you down a tad. For a start, bizarre objects are placed in bizarre locations, which lead to bizarre puzzles granting you odd rewards. If you're looking for a coin, for example, you'd naturally expect to find it in an old pram in a drained swimming pool guarded by demons, wouldn't you? Oh, you would? Then Silent Hill 2 is right up your filthy, depraved alley.

However, some of the puzzles are a little more intriguing later into the game. One room features six hanged men. Solve the brainteaser, and you'll grab a key to unlock some handcuffs to release a valve to... well, you get the idea. Now each dead guy must be inspected, and the note explaining each one's death (stapled to the forehead, of course) must be pondered before the innocent man is cut down. Fun, eh? But here's the rub; the location of the innocent man changes each time you play the game, and many riddle differ depending on the difficulty level you select. Yes, the game features four difficulty setting for attacking enemies, and three for the puzzles (plus a cranium-imploding extra hard Riddle mode once the game is complete), the hardest of which will have you screaming at your joypad as meaningless gibberish masquerading as hints need deduction into unlocking gates or cabinets -- puzzles so vexing that Sherlock Holmes himself would be swallowing his pipe in anger and befuddlement.

All this mental torture obviously gets in the way of game progression, but persevere and you'll encounter not only more beastial entrail-draggers, but some NPCs with outstanding rendering and helpful hints on their side. Top of the list is Maria, the spitting image of your wife, looking like a slightly weird Cameron Diaz, who follows you around while you try not to inadvertently wound her. Then there's Eddie, the rotund town layabout with a vomiting problem, and Laura, the obligatory "scary cute kid", who skips around all the terrifying environments, teases James, and has a forehead built too small for her brain. You'll be following her into certain danger, to be sure.

So where's this all heading? Through a hospital, around other parts of town, into many crumbling shacks, before a return to the "dark side" of Silent Hill, a village too unpleasant to put into words. Would you expect anything less?

And the fun doesn't stop once your 12-ish hours of sweat-dripping, paroxysm-inducing trip has ended either. There's, get this, five endings (just like the first game), and each demands you play the game quite differently (especially as extra items are available upon return to town) and depends on an extremely complicated ranking system. One of the endings must be honorably mentioned as it involves locating a key inside a dog kennel -- an inside joke for players of the original. This, along with a Chainsaw that becomes available the second time you set off for town (and allows even more blood to be spilt, along with a "Bruce Campbell" stance and bellow once a demon has been severely severed) means you need to play through Silent Hill 2 a total of six times to unlock everything. There's your replay value, right there.

Fright Club -- Hit or Miss?

We'll spare you more enthusiasm, and instead concentrate on the one single question: Is Silent Hill 2 worth buying?

Well, if Resident Evil was likened to Night of the Living Dead, then think of Silent Hill 2 as Twin Peaks, minus the damn fine coffee, but plus the atmospheric gloom and cast of insane deviants, with the entire mixture then taken out back into the woods, shot, hacked into small chunks, and buried. Whereas Capcom took their acting cues from SNK translators, Konami have wisely opted for more realism, excellent lip-synching, and bowel-loosening gore and apprehensive effects to keep you alternating between turning off your PS2 in terror, and wondering how many more brain-numbing puzzles you can manage without your brain dribbling out of your ear. This is a new reality in survival horror, and only for those with the strongest of stomachs. If you can handle the visceral combat, buy the game on sight. Worry about the psychological scarring later.

  Pros: Progressive without being linear, impressively vast scenery, phenomenal cut-scenes, and a storyline more suited to cinema than "just videogames." Numerous secret endings, items, and weapons to uncover forcing multiple journeys back to the Hill.
Cons: Puzzle work lacks logic and can impede progress. A reasonable but not huge quest, and a lack of interaction with much of the scenery.
  Pros: Outstanding and intertwined visuals, music, and general atmosphere. Huge environments. Mammoth attention to detail..
Cons: Camera angles can prove annoying in enclosed environments, combat maneuvers a little imprecise. Sometimes, items are difficult to see or pick up.

Scarier, gorier, and more foreboding than any other survival horror game available. A new high watermark of low-down filth and depravity; wrapped in a convincing shell of intricate plot development, beautiful cut-scenes and real-time play. For those with the strongest of minds and stomachs? Thoroughly recommended. For everyone else? This might be too much terror to handle.
 



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