Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is the second installment of the Silent Hill series and the first game of the series to be released for Sony PlayStation 2. It launched in North America on September 24th, 2001 for the PS2. It was later ported to Microsoft Xbox (with the subtitle “Restless Dreams” and included previously unreleased features such as a playable sub-scenario) and the PC. The changes added to the Restless Dreams port was also included in the re-released Greatest Hits/Platinum Edition for the PS2.
It was re released in HD graphics and new voices, along with Silent Hill 3 for the Silent Hill HD Collection.
Note: Silent Hill 2 is set 10 years after the events of the first Silent Hill game, sometime in the 1990s.
James Sunderland has arrived in the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his recently deceased wife, Mary, despite the fact that she had died from an illness three years ago. The letter states that Mary is waiting for James in their “special place”, which confuses James, as the whole town of Silent Hill was their “special place”. After leaving the town’s observation deck and traveling toward Silent Hill, James comes across the Toluca Graveyard and meets Angela Orosco, a teenage girl who came to the town to search for her mother. When James reaches Silent Hill he discovers that it is not the same, beautiful town as it was in the past. In addition to the bizarre, omnipresent fog, the whole town seems to be rotting away and abandoned. Macabre, vaguely humanoid monsters are wandering the streets and attempting to attack James whenever possible. When he discovers that the path to his first destination, the lakeside Rosewater Park, is cut off, James decides to travel through an apartment complex to reach what he believes could be the “special place” Mary mentioned in her letter.
Once inside the apartments, James briefly encounters a little girl who steps on his hand before running away. Soon after that, he comes across Pyramid Head, a humanoid monster whose head is completely obscured by a giant, metal, pyramid-shaped helmet that protects him against anything James will possess in his arsenal. James later meets an obese young man, Eddie Dombrowski, while he is vomiting into one of the apartment toilets. Eddie responds in a very defensive manner to questions regarding a corpse in the refrigerator of the apartment room. James finds Angela again, contemplating suicide with a knife in her hand, while lying in front of a large mirror. James persuades her to hand him the knife for her own safety, after which she flees in an unusual panic.
When James finally reaches Rosewater Park he meets a woman named Maria, who appears nearly identical to his deceased wife Mary, but clothed in a more provocative outfit and possessing more of an impudent attitude. During their travels, she reveals insight into matters that only he or Mary would know, and acts in a very seductive manner toward James. Maria accompanies James in his attempt to reach his second suspected “special place,” the Lakeview Hotel. James enters Pete’s Bowl-O-Rama where he meets Eddie again. He also spots the little girl, who runs away from James upon seeing him. Eddie then reveals to James that her name is Laura. Outside, Maria claims to have seen Laura and, out of concern for her, has James try to pursue the child. Their search leads them to Brookhaven Hospital, where Maria then becomes sick, and insists on resting in one of the hospital rooms.
James finds Laura in one of the rooms, but becomes angry at her for claiming to have known Mary for the past year, in clear contradiction to his belief that she has been dead for three years. Laura responds by locking him in a room filled with covered monsters stuffed in hanging cages (the Flesh Lips), under the pretense of looking for a letter from his wife. After they are defeated, the hospital undergoes a sudden dramatic change to the Otherworld, where James returns to the hospital room to find Maria missing. James later finds Maria in the hospital’s basement, however, Maria becomes angry, claiming that James had abandoned her. After she calms down, they press on to find Laura. Pyramid Head again appears and chases both James and Maria through the hospital’s basement. Pyramid Head manages to slaughter Maria while they attempt to make their escape via an elevator. Alone again and saddened by the loss of Maria, James decides to refocus on his original task of finding Mary. He leaves the hospital and finds a key buried beneath a statue in Rosewater Park, which leads him to the Silent Hill Historical Society.
The Historical Society becomes an exploration of two levels not noted on the town map: Toluca Prison and a labyrinth in which Pyramid Head resides. In this area, James finds Maria, miraculously alive and locked in a prison cell, who greets him with memories of Mary. He tells her that he will free her, but upon leaving and later coming back and entering the cell, James discovers that she has been murdered once again. The next area, in which James reunites with Angela, provides back story as to why Angela and Eddie are in the town. A newspaper clipping indicates that Angela killed her father, who abused her with the complicity of her mother. James saves Angela from a monstrous representation of her father, but she then becomes hostile towards James. Eddie is revealed to have snapped after years of verbal abuse by his peers. He killed the dog of a football player and then shot the dog’s owner in the leg. It becomes clear that upon his arrival in Silent Hill, he has gone insane, seeing everyone as making fun of him, and has resorted to killing anyone he encounters. He first attempts to explain the path of bodies he has left during his time in Silent Hill, but ultimately turns on James as well, and must be killed to progress through the game. James feels ashamed for killing Eddie, and after this point, James questions his perception of the events leading to his arrival in the town. As well, the letter that he supposedly received from Mary goes blank, indicating that the letter itself was something that James himself made up, and that it never actually existed in the first place.
James exits the labyrinth and takes a boat to the Lakeview Hotel in hopes of finding Mary. Once there, he finds Laura once again, and she gives him the letter she claimed to be seeking earlier, which reveals that Mary wanted to adopt her while confirming Laura’s claims of knowing Mary for the past year. The final truth is shown to James when he watches a video tape he apparently left at the hotel three years ago, which shows that he killed his terminally ill wife by smothering her with a pillow. Laura, who is ready to leave the town, finds James and he chooses to reveal the truth to Laura. Laura becomes angry with him for killing Mary, then silently exits the room. The radio James has been carrying to warn him of the approach of monsters then sends a message from Mary, asking him to find her. James explores the rest of the hotel, discovering that it is decrepit and rotting, and has appeared to be nothing more than the remains of a building that has previously experienced a fire. James then finds Angela on a burning staircase, and she asks him to return her knife so that she can commit suicide. James declines. As Angela retreats up the burning staircase, James states that the room is hot as hell, to which she replies that “it’s always like this for me”, meaning that her life was always a living hell. She then completely ascends up the staircase, and disappears into the flames.
The climax approaches as James finds yet another resurrected Maria, bound and screaming for James’s help, but is promptly killed by two Pyramid Head monsters. James then realizes that they have been created to punish him for his sins, and fights the two Pyramid Heads. After they are severely weakened, they commit ritual suicide with their own spears as if to indicate that their purpose has been fulfilled. James is led to a hallway where he listens to a previous conversation that he and Mary had while she was still alive; in this conversation, James brought Mary some flowers, but she did not accept them, stating that she is too disgusting to deserve flowers and yells furiously at James. At the end of this conversation, Mary desperately pleads to James for him to be with her. James then enters a large metallic complex with a long staircase. At the top of this staircase, he finds a woman (depending on the ending, the woman will be either Maria or Mary herself) who transforms into the manifested pain of Mary. After James defeats this final demon, the game comes to a close.
Silent Hill 2 does not have a canonized ending. The fourth installment of the series revealed that James disappeared when he went to Silent Hill. Official statements from Konami have kept the canonicity of the ending ambiguous, with statements essentially saying that any of the endings can be considered “real” depending on the player’s actions and interpretation of the story (e.g. personal reception of particular characters and their purposes). The final version of the game has a total of six possible endings; three of which can be achieved on the first playthrough, and three others enabled by acquiring new items on replays.
In the “Leave” and “In Water” endings, the woman in the room is Maria once again, making a final attempt to get James to take her. James rebuffs her, however, and she turns into a monster similar to the hanging monsters in the hospital, becoming the final boss. Upon her defeat, James will either leave Silent Hill together with Laura after being granted a final meeting with Mary (shown in “Leave”), or drowns himself in Toluca Lake so he and Mary can have a peaceful afterlife together (as shown in “In Water”). The ending song for Leave is Overdose Delusion and the ending song for In Water is Angel’s Thanatos.
A replay ending entitled “Rebirth” will also James kill Maria, but afterwards he will then attempt to use new objects collected in the game to resurrect Mary by confronting the “ancient gods of Silent Hill” with an unknown result. The ending song is The Reverse Will.
The “Maria” ending, however, is radically different from these three. If the player spends a lot of time with Maria and protects her well from monsters (also from Pyramid Head in the hospital basement), the woman in the room will be Mary, who has not forgiven James for killing her. She will then turn into the final boss as the same monster Maria becomes, and after her defeat James dismisses her as being just another hallucination. He then discovers Maria, inexplicably resurrected again, and leaves town with her. As they leave, however, Maria starts coughing, implying she has the same illness Mary suffered from and the events that drove James to the town may repeat themselves. The ending song is Promise.
There are also two joke endings available on replays. The first, “DOG”, ends with James discovering a dog beyond a locked door which has apparently been controlling all the events of the game from a large cartoony computer console. The second, “UFO”, is a continuation of the UFO ending of the first game added in the Xbox port/Director’s version in which James is abducted by a group of aliens with the help of the first game’s protagonist, Harry Mason.
Some new features to the series include:
*The Noise Effect screen filter
*2D and 3D modes (2D is an alternative to “tank” controls)
*An NPC partner
Gameplay in Silent Hill 2 is almost identical to the first game, which includes exploring Silent Hill with flashlight and radio, while defeating monsters and solving puzzles along the way. Many of the environments are dark, and the flashlight is often the only source of light. The radio James receives detects monsters when they are nearby by emitting static and notifying the player of their presence. James will find many helpful items on his journey, and without collecting specific items, the player cannot progress through the game. If James takes too much damage from an enemy, he will die, leading to a Game Over screen.
When a monster appears, the player will have to make a choice on whether to fight or flee. Both options work well in different scenarios; for example, in a narrow hallway, the better option would be to fight, but in a large open area, the better option would be to run away. Even if James flees from an enemy, he is still vulnerable to attacks, however; if James turns his flashlight off, this is less likely to happen.
Upon reaching Rosewater Park, Maria will accompany James. She will follow James being unable to defend herself because she has no weapon. It then becomes James’ responsibility to protect her from any monsters. If Maria dies by taking too much damage from enemies (or if James shoots her), the game will lead to a Game Over screen. Also, even if Maria is very far away from James when he enters a door, she will appear right next to James in the next area.