Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Look at what you could have won.

If like me you have a shelf full of games you've not played in yonks, do you ever think 'I should play that again some time'? Well I told myself I'd do it. Just like I'll watch Battle Royale again at some point with David and Tara. Just get on with it. I've been playing quite a few older games in the last few months. I felt that some of the games on my shelf deserved to be dusted off and revisited, so here's a first review.
This game came out in the same year as Shrek, and ten years after Terminator 2. Feel old?

Review: Silent Hill 2

Game age:10 years (in 2011)

Silent Hill always seemed to me to be the more cerebral Resident Evil. Isolate a member of the RE STAR team (a team proficient in both

unlocking AND using weapons - especially ones which are useful against living things) and plonk them in the middle of an unfamiliar town. Take away the weaponry and military training. Have them slowly realise they're in a landscape constructed from their own mind. Take away any mastery of unlocking. That's Silent Hill. it all seems much more realistic, in an unrealistic sort of way. No guns, just metal handrailing posts.

Granted, both series have their 'Solve puzzle? (Y/N)', but the original Silent Hill had you wondering whether you'd manage to shoot a snarling, leaping dog at two yards. The element of uncertainty in combat, despite the quality or accuracy of the gun you were holding made the experience a genuinely scary one. Plus there's not a green herb in sight.

Ten years ago Silent Hill 2 was one of those games I was both pining for and dreading in equal measures. The original was so good. Almost perfect. It takes skill for a developer to make a game where you're genuinely fearful of combat, and not just because the last save point was an hour ago. You felt for both the lead character's plight and his daughter.

Silent Hill 2 is still a fantastic game. Ten years on, and I played the full lot from start to finish. I'm not doing Edge's 'play the first three hours and blag it, that'll do' approach. In all honesty, it's not been difficult to do, because the game's such an engaging one.

At the time there was a lot of talk about the lighting and mood, and time hasn't changed that. From the corridors of the motel to the foggy streets, the whole game extrudes an air of discomfort and fear of death. Discomfort for you as the game player, and fear of the death of the lead character.

10 YEAR OLD GAME SPOILERS. James Sunderland is a man drawn to Silent Hill after receiving a mysterious letter from his late wife. The game follows his journey through numerous physical and mental challenges to reach the truth of both his relationship with and nature of the death of his wife. The supernatural setting of the game pretty much leaves you in no doubt that the events aren't taking place in reality, but this doesn't make it any less scary. You're working your way through your own conscience, and it's not a pretty journey. The recurrent Pyramid Head may be the personification of your own guilt, perhaps suicide. This is my take on it.

You murdered your wife. The reason is debatable. It's a sliding scale between her needs and yours. It's a genuine dilemma that must have had thousands of people close to madness and suicide. Not exactly a pleasant thing to contemplate, but it's a very real situation to be in and that's part of the game's uniqueness. No zombies. No T-Virus. Just you and the person you love more than anyone in the world.

There are genuine multiple endings, I really wish I had the time to complete them all.

Had this been a film I can imagine there would be far more comment on it. To the benefit of artistic creation, few (if any) people who have major issues with the topic of euthanasia will have heard of the game, let alone played it to its conclusion. All this while children are still playing GTAIV and COD. A whole other issue for another day.

Verdict: 35 Druids out of 39.

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