Playstation 2 Games – Silent Hill 2

Written by thegaminggeek

March 10, 2024

I finally had the chance to play Silent Hill 2 recently. I played the first one for the very first time last year and enjoyed the experience so much that I couldn’t wait to play the sequel.


silent hill 2 - title screen

Title screen for Silent Hill 2 on the Playstation 2.


Let’s talk about this game today!


Game Basics

Silent Hill is a survival horror game developed by Team Silent and published by Konami. In this game, we take on the role of James Sunderland, who recently received a mysterious letter in his wife’s handwriting. She’s been dead for 3 years now, and yet the letter claims that she is waiting for James in Silent Hill. We’ll be stepping into James’ shoes as he attempts to search for his wife in this desolate town. Similar to the first game, you’ll have to explore the fog-covered town of Silent Hill, chasing down whatever lead you have as you attempt to move forward. Often, your way will be blocked but by finding clues and solving puzzles, you’ll be able to move forward.


silent hill 2 - mysterious letter

The letter that prompts James to search for his wife in Silent Hill.


You only have one life in this game but you have a health meter, which comes in the form of your portrait’s background in the menu (green at full, red when near death). There are several health items scattered across town which you can use to fill up your health. If you lose all your health you will get killed, which will lead to a Game Over.


silent hill 2 - save spot

These red pages will let you save your progress.


This is a Playstation 2 game so of course this has a save system. To be able to save, you’ll need to find these red sheets of paper. They’re very bright red so they are quite easy to spot. You can use several save slots up to how much space is left on your memory card. When you start a game, you can choose different Action and Puzzle difficulty levels.


Moves, Abilities, Weapons and Accessories

Similar to other Playstation 2 games, Silent Hill 2 is a 3D style game where you get to move around on a plane. It still follows tank controls which was popular during the Playstation 1 era wherein Up moves your character forward, Down makes them step backward, and Left/Right turns them to that direction. There is no jumping or platforming in this game whatsoever. James can either walk or run, but running for too long will make him pant. Most guides that I’ve read recommend that you set his movement to running by default so I don’t think running too much will have a negative impact.


silent hill 2 - steel pipe

You can use this Steel Pipe as a melee weapon.


Before playing any of the Silent Hill games, I thought that there wasn’t any combat in them. But James can actually fight back. You’ll be able to get a handful of melee weapons and guns that will help you. There’s also plenty of ammunition scattered around town so you’ll reap benefits from exploring every dead end. Hitting enemies enough times will knock them down to the ground. You’ll need to stomp on them to prevent them from getting back up. You also have a defensive block that you can use but you’ll need to time it perfectly for it to work.


silent hill 2 - mannequin

The Mannequin is on the move.


You’ll also find two very helpful accessories along the way. The first one is the radio, which goes crazy with static noise whenever a monster is near you. If you want a challenge, you can turn this radio off in your inventory, or even lower the volume. The second item is a flashlight that James will wear on his chest. You’ll need to turn this on to be able to see in the dark, both literally and from a gameplay standpoint (James can’t pick up items in the dark). But monsters can easily spot you with the light on, even from far away.


Enemies and Bosses

One of the aspects of Silent Hill 2 that disappointed me was the lack of enemy variety and not having enough boss monsters to fight. I understand that this game wasn’t meant to be action-oriented but having only three regular enemies to fight you from the start of the game until the last area made them feel quite repetitive. You’ll usually fight either Lying Figures, Bubble Head Nurses, or Mannequins. The first game had flying monsters and monster dogs added into the mix, and I wish these two monster types were in this game too.


Vs Abstract Daddy

Fighting the Abstract Daddy.


In terms of boss monsters, I think this game needed one or two more boss fights. The Pyramid Head encounters were really memorable and I did like the other bosses that this game had, especially the final boss. But as I was playing the game, I can distinctly remember expecting a boss fight – and there wasn’t any. But it’s not as detrimental as the lack of regular enemy variety.


Story and Setting

What I enjoyed about Silent Hill 2 isn’t battling monsters or bosses. Although it’s really simple, the mystery around Mary’s letter really compelled me to keep going. Who sent the letter to James? Has Mary been resurrected somehow? And if this really isn’t Mary, who or what is behind all this? You’ll also meet other people, normal humans like James, in this town. Who are they? And what are they doing in this seemingly dangerous town?


Silent Hill 2 - James Sunderland

The game’s protagonist, James Sunderland.


Again, the mystery behind Mary’s letter is really quite simple. It’s not an intricate plot that’s full of twists and turns. So aside from the narrative, the actual town of Silent Hill is also very compelling. I was entertained simply from exploring each fog-covered street, wanting to see what’s waiting for me at the end. It felt good to walk through Silent Hill’s dark corridors, checking every door to see which ones can be opened. The in-game town of Silent Hill really felt like a real town, abandoned by people not too long ago for reasons that aren’t very clear.


Visuals, Sound, and Presentation

As can be expected, Silent Hill 2 has improved visuals compared to the first game. Almost everything looks better. The 3D models of human characters and monsters look great. Locations look real. The fog looks even better, now appearing smoke-like. This game is already more than twenty years old at the time of this writing but it holds up pretty well despite the passage of time. The one aspect that I think could have been improved is the way characters are animated while they’re speaking in cutscenes. The animation felt a little too cartoony and too exaggerated for me, making them too unnatural in these moments.


vs Bubble Head Nurse

There are so many evil nurses in this game!


This game also has excellent sound design. The developers knew exactly when the scenes needed background music and when they needed ambient music. Sound effects sound real and really helps build a scary experience. The game’s music was also great and very fitting for this game’s tone. The only aspect that I didn’t like were how the voice actors of the secondary characters delivered their lines. I feel that their style belonged more to the Playstation 1 era.


vs Pyramid Head

The renowned Pyramid Head.


As for presentation, I don’t have any complaints. I think it was a great idea to mirror the menu layout of the previous game. Everything looked clear, and not having a HUD was definitely fitting for this game. I thought the game used cutscenes when it needed them, and the cutscenes were all well made.


Added Replay Value

Another thing that I really love about Silent Hill 2 is the additional replay value that the game has. First, the game has several endings that you can unlock. I think the main endings are really worth playing the game again just to see them play out. And I like that the endings are based on how you behaved during the game, instead of requiring just one or two specific actions to achieve. For example, keeping your health full as much as possible can lead to one ending, while not healing until you are near death can lead to a different ending. I didn’t read any guides on how to get the endings so I’m actually not happy with the ending that I got and I’m considering playing the game again just to see the ending that I really want.


Silent Hill 2 - maria

Maria’s bonus scenario.


And if you’re not fond of playing games more than once, you might want to look at special versions of Silent Hill 2. The Greatest Hits version, as well as the Director’s Cut version of Silent Hill 2 has a special scenario where you get to play as Maria. This bonus scenario is short (took me just over an hour to beat it) but I like that the developers had the initiative to add this.


Final Thoughts

I’ve read a lot of praise for Silent Hill 2. This game is not without flaws, but the flaws have so little impact compared to how it works as an overall package. Sure, there are only a few enemy types and combat is very basic and repetitive. The voice acting of the secondary characters could have been better. And this game didn’t change my mind about hating tank controls.


Silent Hill 2 - james and maria

If you haven’t played Silent Hill 2, what are you still waiting for? Go play it!


But boy, you will never even think about those issues while playing the game. I was immersed in the town of Silent Hill all throughout playing the game. I was emotionally invested in James, which is why I want to get a better ending for him. Now I can see why a lot of people say that Silent Hill 2 the best in the franchise, and I hope the remake is just as good or even better. I’m glad that I finally got the chance to play this game. Silent Hill 2 is definitely a game that should be experienced by survival horror fans.


For more Silent Hill video games, click here. And click here to check out every Playstation 2 video game that I’ve played.


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