Title: Silent Hill 2 ( Playstation 2)
You are James Sunderland, a widower of three years, who has received a letter from his dead(?) wife urging him to come an meet her in the strange town of Silent Hill. Desperately trying to locate her you maul, maraud and bludgeon your way through the streets, solving puzzles and collecting clues.
Over the years, video games have been becoming increasingly more complex; Silent Hill 2 is an evolutionary leap in terms of both graphics and storytelling. At it’s core, this game is a story about guilt and personal redemption; an introspective portrait of a life made up of difficult choices, painted with a palette of clubbing humanoid shapes into goo.
As the story unfolded and the imperfections of the main character were revealed, I found myself increasingly drawn into the game world. The use of fog to limit visibility and radio static to foreshadow danger combined to create a truly spine tingling effect.
The grotesque cast of enemies elicit a strange sense of deja-vu, as if remembered from a half-forgotten dream. They range from the simply bizarre to the extremely menacing, and as is typical with the undead, they need to be clubbed exhaustively into submission.
One of the most amazing things about this game is that is happens in real-space. A twenty minute walk across town actually takes twenty minutes, there are no jump-to shortcuts. As a result the tension built up in gameplay is never released, I wandered around Silent Hill constantly in a state of mild panic.
This game uses a number of 3D tricks that are of interest to any 3D graphic artist, primarily the use of fog. The fog not only serves to create a terrifying atmosphere, but it also allows the game developers to draw in the far clip plane of the camera. Since only the foreground is visible at any given time, the visual resolution of the entire game can be increased. The developers have leveraged this advantage to the hilt, what little of the environment is visible is stunningly detailed and non-repetitive.
To conclude, I return to where I began, the story. Everything in this game serves the plot, graphics, audio and pacing. In a world with so much 3D for 3D sake, it was a frightening pleasure to take a walk in Silent Hill.