Silent Hill 2 is the second installment in the Silent Hill survival horror series and the first game of the series to be released for Sony PlayStation 2. The game was developed by Team Silent and published by Konami. It launched in North America on September 24, 2001.
A more definitive version of the game, Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams, was re-released with new features on the PlayStation 2 as a "Greatest Hits" title and ported to the Xbox and PC. It is known as Silent Hill 2: Saigo no Uta ("The Final Song") in Japan, and in Europe, Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears on Xbox and Silent Hill 2: Director's Cut on PC and PS2. It features an additional UFO Ending, a new scenario called Born from a Wish, better graphics and lighting effects, and exclusive to the PC version, the ability to save anywhere, swap weapons without opening the menu, and a movie gallery.
Letter from Silent Heaven
James Sunderland has arrived in the town of Silent Hill, Maine after receiving a letter from his wife, Mary, despite the fact that she died from a chronic disease three years ago. The letter claims that Mary is waiting for James in their "special place", which confuses James, as the whole town of Silent Hill was their "special place". Despite James wondering if the letter is a prank by someone with a twisted sense of humor, he notes that the letter is definitely written in Mary's handwriting and the author is aware James once made a promise to return to Silent Hill with Mary and that he never fulfilled this promise.
After leaving the town's observation deck and walking to Silent Hill, James enters a graveyard and meets Angela Orosco, a nervous young woman who came to the town to search for her missing mother. She warns him that there's something "wrong" about Silent Hill and that it could be dangerous, but he ignores her warnings, saying he doesn't care if it's dangerous and he plans on finding his missing someone too.
When James reaches Silent Hill, he discovers that it is not the same, beautiful town it was a few years ago. In addition to the bizarre, omnipresent fog, the whole town seems to be rotting away and abandoned. Macabre, vaguely humanoid creatures are roaming the streets and attempting to attack James whenever possible. When he discovers that the path to his first destination, the lakeside Rosewater Park, is blocked, James decides to pass through an apartment complex to reach what he believes could be the "special place" Mary mentioned in her letter.
Inside the apartments, James briefly encounters a little girl who steps on his hand before running away. Soon after that, he finds Pyramid Head, a humanoid monster whose head is completely obscured by a giant, metal, pyramid-shaped helmet. James later meets an overweight young man, Eddie Dombrowski, while Eddie is vomiting into one of the apartment toilets. Eddie defensively responds to questions regarding a corpse in the refrigerator of the apartment room. In another apartment complex, James finds Angela again lying in front of a large mirror, contemplating suicide with a knife in her hand. Trying to talk her out of suicide, James persuades her to hand him the knife for her own safety and she flees in an unusual panic to resume her search for her mother.
After James leaves the apartment complex, he finds the girl humming to herself on a grafitti-covered wall. He confronts her in frustration and she reveals to James that she knows of Mary and that "he never loved her anyway", but then jumps off the other side of the wall before James can get more information from her.
When James finally reaches Rosewater Park, he meets a woman named Maria, who appears nearly identical to his recently deceased wife Mary, but showing off more skin and possessing more of an arrogant attitude. During their time together, Maria 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 which he and Mary once stayed at. 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 girl.
After passing through Heaven's Night, James and Maria see Laura enter Brookhaven Hospital. While exploring the hospital, Maria becomes sick and rests in a hospital room. James finds Laura in one of the rooms, but he 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, 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 and that he doesn't seem to care to see that she's alive after presumably dying. After she calms down, they continue to search for Laura. Pyramid Head 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: 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. Maria claims that they were simply separated in the hospital basement and that she had not been killed. James tells her that he will free her, but upon reaching the other side of the cell, he discovers that she has been mysteriously murdered. From a newspaper article, James discovers that Angela killed her father, who sexually and physically abused her under the complicity of her mother. James saves Angela from a monstrous representation of her father, after which she becomes hostile. Angela expresses her distrust in James, and men in general, as from her experience they were "only after one thing" (sex). She also calls James a liar who "didn't want Mary around anymore" before leaving.
Near the end of the labyrinth, James finds Eddie who has mentally snapped after a life of bullying and verbal abuse by his peers due to his physical appearance and him being overweight. Eddie reveals he killed the dog of a bullying football player and then shot the dog's owner in the leg. It becomes clear that Eddie is mentally unwell and is willing to kill the next one to laugh at him. James unwisely asks Eddie if he's "gone nuts", prompting a battle between James and Eddie. James kills Eddie in self-defemse and he feels shocked and ashamed of himself. 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 never actually existed. James exits the labyrinth and rows a boat to the Lakeview Hotel in hopes of finding Mary.
In the hotel's restaurant, James finds Laura 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. In Room 312, James 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. For a few moments, James silently sits, realizing the truth and facing his own psychological guilt. Laura, ready to leave the town, finds James and he chooses to reveal the truth to her. Laura is angered at him for killing Mary and screams she hates him, 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 is now nothing more than the remains of a building that has experienced a fire. James then finds Angela on a burning staircase, vacantly standing between two skinned blood-stained male corpses stitched to a frame, symbolic of her dead father and brother. Angela asks him to return her knife so that she can commit suicide. James does not comply. As Angela ascends the burning staircase, James states that the room is hot as hell, to which she replies, "For me, it's always like this", meaning that her life was always a living hell. Angela disappears past the flames, apparently killing herself off-screen.
In the hotel lobby, James finds Maria resurrected again, bound and screaming for James's help. She is immediately killed by two Pyramid Heads. James then realizes that they have been created to punish him for his sins, and proceeds to fight the duo. After they are sufficiently weakened, they impale themselves with their own spears, as if to indicate that their purpose had been fulfilled.
James is led to a hallway where he listens to a previous interaction that he and Mary had while she was still alive. In the situation, James had brought Mary flowers. She refused them, yelling frustratedly at James, stating that she was too disgusting to deserve flowers. By the end of the conversation, Mary desperately pleads for James to be with her. The memory ends, and James then enters a large metallic complex with a long staircase. At the top of this staircase, on the roof, he finds a woman resembling Mary who transforms into a monster after becoming angered by James. Upon defeating this final demon, the game comes to a close.
Silent Hill 2 does not have an explicitly known canonical ending, and this has been a source of debate in the fanbase. A translation of the Book of Lost Memories says "Of the four conclusions, there is no one correct interpretation. Each ending indicates a different possibility." The writer of Silent Hill 2, Hiroyuki Owaku, has never made an official statement regarding a canon ending.
However, while there are some hints leaning towards "In Water" being canon, it is still officially unknown. There are instances which could be interpreted as hints:
- In Water is the first ending listed in the Book of Lost Memories.
- In Silent Hill 3 which also has plenty of Silent Hill 2 references, Douglas Cartland mentions he was involved in a case in which a man went missing in Silent Hill and was never found, and it is possible that Douglas was referring to James though he disappeared along with his wife.
- Silent Hill 4: The Room revealed that James and Mary "disappeared in Silent Hill", meaning they have canonically disappeared. In addition, the game was not written by Hiroyuki Owaku. Instead Suguru Murakoshi was the writer and director so his interpretation of SH2's endings may be different than what Owaku had intended when the Book of Lost Memories came out.
- The novelization uses the In Water ending. However, it should be noted that it was written by Sadamu Yamashita, who apparently didn't work on the games and used the non-canon Good+ ending for the first game's novelization.
- Masahiro Ito and Guy Cihi both choose In Water as their personal canon ending though Cihi admitted on his Facebook page that he prefers the Leave ending.
- Masahiro Ito designed Pyramid Head with In Water in mind.
- The cover of the instruction manual and introduction video of Silent Hill 2 shows James carrying Mary's corpse, which only happens in the In Water ending.
The final version of the game has a total of six possible endings; three of which can be achieved on the first playthrough (Leave/In Water/Maria), and three others (Rebirth/Dog/UFO) enabled by acquiring new items in replays. The UFO Ending doesn't appear in the original PlayStation 2 release, which had a black label, whereas the Greatest Hits version which had a red label.
- Leave: The woman in the room is Maria once again, making a final attempt to get James to accept 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 is granted a final meeting with Mary, who gives him her letter. James then leaves Silent Hill together with Laura. The ending song is "Overdose Delusion".
- Keep health high. Heal frequently if James is injured.
- Check Mary's photo and letter.
- Don't spend too much time with Maria.
- In Lakeview Hotel, listen to the headphones and the hallway conversation.
- In Water: The woman in the room is Maria once again, making a final attempt to get James to accept 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 is granted a final meeting with Mary. She tells James that he has suffered enough for killing her and gives him the letter. Mary violently coughs and dies again as James holds her hand. According to the novelization, Mary's corpse was already in the trunk of James's car. He takes out her body and arranges it in passenger seat. James arrives at the conclusion that he is unable to live without Mary, realizing that he came to Silent Hill to commit suicide in a place of memories. James then drowns himself by driving into Toluca Lake with his wife's corpse so they can be together in death. A view from under the lake with bubbles rising to the surface is seen. The ending song is "Angel's Thanatos".
- Keep health low. If James is injured, do not heal immediately.
- Check Angela's knife.
- Read the patient's diary on Brookhaven's roof, and the second letter to James in Neely's Bar.
- In Lakeview Hotel, listen to the headphones and the hallway conversation.
- Maria: If the player spends a lot of time with Maria and protects her well from monsters (including from Pyramid Head in the hospital basement), the woman in the final boss room will be Mary, who has not forgiven James for killing her. She will then turn into the final boss, and after her defeat, James returns to Rosewater Park to stare at the water. Maria, inexplicably resurrected again, asks James if he killed Mary again. James says that wasn't "Mary", implying he believes she was just a hallucination or manifestation. James leaves town with Maria. As they leave, however, Maria starts coughing, implying she is suffering from the same illness as Mary. The ending song is "Promise".
- Keep health high. Heal frequently if James is injured.
- Spend a lot of time with Maria and protect her from monsters. Follow her commands, and visit her when she is sick in Brookhaven Hospital. When Maria dies in the Labyrinth, attempt to re-enter the room.
- In Lakeview Hotel, do not listen to the headphones and the hallway conversation.
- Rebirth: James kills Maria. He then rows a boat with his wife's corpse to the Church of the Rebirth on Toluca Lake Island to use new objects collected in the game to resurrect Mary by confronting the "old gods of Silent Hill" with an unknown result. The ending song is "The Reverse Will".
- Dog: In the hotel, James discovers a dog, who has apparently been controlling all the events of the game from a large, cartoony computer console, beyond a locked door. In disbelief, James says, "So it was all your work!" in Japanese and the dog licks him. A silly montage plays.
- UFO: This ending is a continuation of the UFO ending of the first game added in the re-released version, in which James is abducted by a group of aliens with the help of the first game's protagonist, Harry Mason.
- On a second playthrough, obtain the Blue Gem and use it in three locations. The first location is the Brookhaven Hospital garden, after the Flesh Lip boss fight. The second location is in front of the row boat on the dock, after the Eddie fight. The third location is in Room 312 before doing the required event there.
Born from a Wish
Prior to James's arrival in the town, Maria wakes up alone and frightened in Heaven's Night. After pondering to herself about what she should do, she eventually decides to try and find someone else in the town. She begins to wander through the streets of Silent Hill until she eventually enters the Baldwin Mansion, an area out of bounds in the main game.
Here she meets the owner of the mansion, Ernest Baldwin, although she never actually sees him; all their conversations are shared between locked doors. Ernest speaks in a strange monotone, and asks her to find the "white liquid" to help him bring back his dead daughter, Amy. Maria helps him with this, even though it may not work, stating: "I don't mind fighting for an impossible cause."
During Maria's exploration of the mansion, she finds a teddy bear in Amy's room. Maria comments that Laura would love it, showing that she shares some of Mary's memories.
After Maria retrieves the "white liquid" to Ernest, he reveals slightly more, telling her about a man named James Sunderland. He warns Maria that James is a bad man, and that he's looking for "the you that isn't you". This seems to stir something in Maria, who begins to remember things about James; that he wasn't good to his wife while she was ill, and that he killed her. She also remembers that underneath, James is a kind person. Maria then opens the door, but the room where Ernest's voice had been coming from is empty, implying that he had been a ghost.
Disappointed, Maria leaves the Baldwin Mansion and considers suicide, holding her revolver against her head, but refrains and tosses it over a wall. She decides to follow her fate and walks to Rosewater Park, hoping that James will accept her.
Gameplay in Silent Hill 2 is almost identical to the first game, which includes exploring Silent Hill with a 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.
The tank controls in the first game are optional in Silent Hill 2 and the player can choose their preferred control scheme. The controller vibration is used to indicate the player's heartbeat and will vibrate on low health. It also vibrates when attacking and when being attacked.
For the first time in the series, the player can now block, even with a weapon like the handgun. This is performed by holding square (PS2) or Shift (PC), or whatever the run/walk button is. The player must not be in "lock on" mode to do this (don't hold the right trigger), and they can only block when an enemy is about to strike so blocking requires timing.
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 and is unable to defend herself because she has no weapon. It becomes James's responsibility to protect her from any monsters. If Maria dies by taking too much damage from enemies or if James kills her, the game will lead to a "game over" screen. 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, unlike Eileen Galvin.
- Main article: Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtracks
Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtracks was released in Japan on October 3rd, 2001, by Konami Music Entertainment, Inc. The album contains 30 musical tracks from the game composed by Akira Yamaoka, some in-game and some exclusive to the album, and are completely instrumental. The soundtrack was re-released in Europe as Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtrack the same year. The CD was packed in a jewel case inserted in a paper box with different cover art.
The soundtrack of Born from a Wish was never officially released, but a fan tried their best to rip it.
Influences and design
- See also: Inspirational works of Silent Hill
The atmosphere of the game is for the most part similar to the first Silent Hill, including the abandoned and/or decomposing look of the town and the persistent fog obscuring the streets, but it has been given a more psychological twist. One example of this is James's letter from Mary, which progressively disappears during the game hinting, as Konami later confirmed, that the letter was not real and merely another part of James's hallucinations. The implication is that, as James slowly began to understand what he had done, the illusions of the town begin to disappear. This could also be the explanation for the transformation of the hotel, as when James enters it is mostly intact, but after he sees the videotape he finds it reverts to its true form: a mostly burned-out structure. Other acknowledged attempts to induce a psychological influence on the game include placing Mary's dress in the room where James discovers the flashlight and modeling at least two corpses in the town after James.
The monsters in the game, as well as being more humanoid in design than their counterparts in the preceding Silent Hill game, are acknowledged to have been, for the most part, designed as a reflection of James's own subconscious. At least two creatures, the Mannequin and Bubble Head Nurse, are acknowledged to have been created with sexual suggestion in mind; a reflection of James's carnal desires and likely sexual deprivation during Mary's illness. Pyramid Head is acknowledged to have been based upon the executioners of the town's fictional history and is intended to be a punisher for James. Two exceptions to this theme are the Abstract Daddy, a reflection of the subconscious memories of Angela, and the Creepers, which are also seen in the first game.
Silent Hill 2 slightly strays away from the Order and themes of occultism and religion, focusing more on human psychology instead. Although there are still hints and traces of it, there's a much lesser focus compared to the first game. James, Angela and Eddie may be agnostic or atheist because they don't mention any deities or religious context during the game, aside from James mentioning "The Old Gods haven't left this place" in the Rebirth ending.
Silent Hill 2 also references real-life events. The creators have said that the name "Mary" came from Mary Ann Nichols and Mary Jane Kelly, Jack the Ripper's first and last victims, respectively. Other observers have claimed that Maria's outfit was copied from Christina Aguilera's appearance at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards. Eddie Dombrowski's name was taken from actor Eddie Murphy back during the beginning phases of production when Eddie was originally designed with a pleasantly optimistic personality. The name of Angela Orosco was derived from Angela Bennett, the protagonist of the film The Net, and Laura's from the novel No Language but a Cry by author Richard D'Ambrosio.
There are also indications that the layout of Silent Hill has been based on the town of San Bruno, California, to a certain extent.
Reaction to the game was generally favorable. Many praised the game's graphics (especially at the time compared to other video games), which were a major improvement over the first game, with more polygons, realistic lighting and CGI, and more detailed textures, environments, and facial animation.
Silent Hill 2 is often called one of the greatest works of art in the survival horror video game medium. The deep emotional provocative psychological storyline, atmosphere and music of the game was well-praised. The story touches on "taboo" subjects, stigmatized and mature themes such as pain and suffering, loneliness, sexual and physical abuse, trauma, occultism, existentialism, morality, rape, incest, domestic violence, death, alcoholism, relationship issues, murder, suicide, euthanasia, the right to die, bullying, body image, grief, depression and mental illness and mental health, but tries to do so in a mature fashion, pushing the bar for survival horror games and storytelling and art direction in video games.
In terms of hardware, the PlayStation 2 version has a 89 on Metacritic. The PC port, when it was initially released, received lower praise due to some technical issues such as slow transitions, looping sounds, etc. Since its initial release, the PC version, initially intended for Windows XP, has external programs which allow use and compatibility for more modern operating systems. Silent Hill 2 was ported to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, although this version of the game has been criticized for artistic changes and technical issues. Because of this, many resort to the PlayStation 2 version, emulating the PlayStation 2 version on PC, or the official PC version.
- For the game's booth during E3 2001, a mannequin of James and Laura on top of a wall was displayed.
- The streets and buildings were inspired and named after real writers, stores, and locations.
- Angela Orosco appears on the North American game cover.
- Akira Yamaoka took recordings of over 100 footsteps for the game. In "Making of Silent Hill 2", he states that this was to add variety and to avoid redundancy. He also claims that silence is a sound all its own, and the footsteps were meant to contribute to the eerie silence.
- Many ambient sounds in the game are random, meaning the sound design tends to be different every playthrough. For example, there are random chances of the player hearing footsteps, whispering, glass shattering, breathing, crying, screaming, and a pig squealing.
- Like Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2 had some things changed or edited due to graphic violence and/or nausea-inducing scenes in-game. For example: James's original attacks included dismembering limbs of the monsters, but was changed to melee and ranged weapons attack without the additional violence. Eddie's original vomiting scene was much more intense, both graphically and audibly. The second part of the videotape viewed in the hotel originally had audio accompanying it, however, it was left out in the final cut of the game.
- When James talks to Maria through the cell bars, the scene is intentionally shot in a way that makes it look like James is also inside a cell.
- A calendar in the game implies the game takes place in 1994, though the calendar may not be fully reliable and may not coincide with the actual intended year for the game.
- In the town of Silent Hill, southeast to Rosewater Park, there is a building entitled St. Stella Church, named after the Catholic Saint Stella. It comes from the Latin name "Stella Maris", which translates to "Star of the Sea", and is part of the title "Our Lady, Star of the Sea", which happens to be the ancient title of the revered Virgin Mary. This could easily be a connection to Mary Sunderland.
- Many of the facial animations in the game are not motion captured and are manually animated.
- Konami lost the source code to Silent Hill 2, which is one reason why the Silent Hill HD Collection had many technical issues as the only source code available was an unfinished beta version.
- The speed limit signs in South Vale are in kilometers per hour. The game takes place in the United States, which uses miles per hour.
- Official site (Japanese)
- Silent Hill 2 on PCGamingWiki
- Letter From Silent Heaven - An in-depth site about Silent Hill 2
- ↑ Silent Hill 2 Ending: Book of Lost Memories
- ↑ Silent Hill 2 novelization, chapter 6
- ↑ https://www.facebook.com/guy.cihi/posts/10151163096154259
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
- ↑ Guy Cihi and David Schaufele interview
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
Letter from Silent Heaven
Born from a Wish
|Silent Hill games|
|Main series||Silent Hill · 2 · 3 · 4 · Origins · Homecoming · Shattered Memories · Downpour|
|Ports / Adaptations||Play Novel · Mobile · HD Collection|
|Spin-offs||The Arcade · Orphan · 2 · 3 · The Escape · Book of Memories|
|Cancelled||Silent Hills (P.T.)|
|Production||Konami · Team Silent · Climax Studios · Double Helix · Vatra Games · WayForward Technologies|
|Extras||Inspirations · Features|