There are very few games that can top Resident Evil Code Veronica X, but I think I might have just found one. Silent Hill 2 for the PS2. I'm a little shocked that I rather liked this particular game and found it to be more coherent and satisfying than RE:CVX. But I did.
It's not the best game out there but it's a good one and that to me is what matters, there are some glitches with the graphics and the storyline can seem a little cheesy at times, but I frankly don't care. It has what a good Horror game needs, suspense and atmosphere. James Sunderland is back in Silent Hill 2 and he's gotten a letter from his dead wife asking to meet him in their cherished place of Silent Hill.
Don't ask me why the hell anyone would call Silent Hill cherished; perhaps it's seen happier times. The game oozes scary atmosphere right from the word go, as soon as you start in a WC just outside the town itself, the camera puts you into James' life and is probably one of the most impressive features of the game.
The camera work in SH2 is pretty damn astounding if you ask me, it's up to film quality level in places and combined with the gritty disturbing graphics and chilling sounds it really does make the game something special. The lighting effects are also some of the most realistic seen in a game yet, with a strong light and some nice shadow effects you start to see the graphics engine's power at work. The only source of light I must mention is James' torch and you don't start the game with it. It's something you have to find for yourself.
The control method to SH2 is also much better than the Resident Evil games and provides a much more comfortable feel for James' movements, you're not really left with many of those awkward Alone in the Dark style camera moments where you can't see what's going on ahead of you.
The locations in the game are also some of the more impressive I've seen in a while, the town itself is drawn right out of a Steven King or a James Herbert book, mist flows in ghostly tendrils around the streets and obscures the vision for a long time, only your ears can pick out the unnerving sounds of the wind whistling or the scraping of a strange mutated corpse trundling down the street. Yep it leaves RE standing for atmosphere I'm afraid, and I thought CVX was good.
Look around you and the decaying ruin of James' favourite special place is apparent, blood stained streets, broken doors, paint peeling off the walls of the buildings and when you finally get indoors you're in for a treat of claustrophobic proportions as dark corridors with strange noises abound, shadows that are cast from James' light thrown with Hitchcock like candour and finally the texturing again brings to life the run down, pock marked, and utterly filthy nature of the setting.
It's obvious the developers have an eye for detail and an idea of how a scary game should be done. You get a revolver and a wooden plank and because James' isn't a super cop or an elite spec ops guy, he's crap with it. You're better off most of the time with the two-by-four with the nails in it.
Silent Hill 2's creatures are some of the most mind-bendingly disturbing creations that I have ever seen in a game, I can't begin to describe the feeling of horror and revulsion you actually do get from seeing these misshapen deathly creatures that shamble with a kind of automaton motion towards you, they are mostly silent apart from their footsteps and I think again this adds to the feeling of terror too.
The creatures also have the disturbing habit of vomiting green mucus like goo all over you from a distance unless you get up close and personal with the old plank of wood. But make sure that they're dead with a few good hits; otherwise you'll end up being chased around by scurrying freakish mutants or what ever they are.
So is Silent Hill 2 worth it. I would have to say that I think so, the puzzles that are in the game are nicely thought out and the solution is usually fairly close at hand. There doesn't seem to be too much backtracking either. It's my personal opinion that Silent Hill 2 actually exceeds the Resident Evil series of games and provides a decent sequel to a scary PSX game.
The voice acting in SH2 is not the best I have heard, that honour still really belongs to the wonderful Soul Reaver and now Soul Reaver 2. But that's ok because the atmosphere more than enough makes up for it, as you'll see if you delve into the game yourselves. I highly recommend it.