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Resident Evil reigned unchallenged in the survival-horror genre until Silent Hill came along, offering fans a chillingly psychological alternative to the cheap scares of the Capcom series.
The game's 2001 sequel provided an opportunity for Konami to prove it was capable of delivering the ultimate fright fest, harnessing the power of the recently-released PlayStation 2 to achieve things that were impossible the first time around.
It was an opportunity the development team seized with both hands, as Silent Hill 2 remains one of the most atmospheric and unnerving horror games ever released.
With the original ending in anticlimactic and convoluted fashion, Konami wiped the slate clean for the sequel, ditching everything apart from the eponymous town and its foggy weather.
Players took on the role of James Sutherland, a man who journeys to Silent Hill after receiving a mysterious letter from his dead wife. A dark journey into the character's psyche followed as he unlocked the many secrets of the monster-infested town.
Silent Hill 2 made every effort to differentiate itself from its predecessor, and it achieved this with a greater emphasis on puzzle solving.
Puzzles usually required players to comb the area for key items, which often had to be combined to solve the problem at hand. These were challenging enough to tax the player, yet never frustrating enough to force them to invest in the game's official strategy guide.
It was imperative to painstakingly scour every location this foggy town had to offer, but a smart mapping system that checked off the areas you had already visited made this less of a chore.
Silent Hill 2's creature design was one of its greatest strengths. The monsters were more humanoid this time around, representations of the nightmares that resided in the protagonist's subconscious.
Who could forget that freakish amalgamation of mannequin parts, or the ultra-terrifying Pyramid Head? The latter was effective enough at playing on our fear of the unknown to deserve a place in the modern horror hall of fame, alongside the likes of Freddy Kruger and Michael Myers.
We never got to see what lurked beneath that triangular-shaped helmet, but no doubt each player envisioned their own worst nightmare.
Although Silent Hill 2's rogues gallery looked the part, their bark was often worse than their bite. It was easy to outrun monsters out in the open, while plentiful ammunition and health packs diluted the sense of jeopardy.
There were a handful of encounters resembling boss battles, but these posed little challenge for players schooled in the early Resident Evil titles that preceded the game.
Silent Hill 2 was more concerned with unsettling the player and building suspense than serving up reflex-based challenges and jumpy moments, combining misty exteriors and murky interiors with a chilling soundtrack to great effect.
While the game strived to change the survival-horror genre for the better, it was never perfect, marred slightly by awkward controls and failing to better the original in some respects.
For instance, Silent Hill 2 was more chilling than its PSone predecessor, but to call it scarier is a stretch. Half the time players found themselves dispatching enemies simply because they were in the way, rather than to end the nightmarish creation before them.
The storyline made more sense in the sequel and the ending was less of a head-scratcher, yet leaving players with a burning need to understand the events before them added something to the original Silent Hill, as much as it frustrated.
Silent Hill 2 was a valuable addition to a genre that sorely needed an injection of Twin Peaks-esque psychology to balance out the throw-away scares and gun-toting kicks of its peers.
It did its bit to help prevent the survival-horror category from turning stale, and remains a fan-favourite to this day.
Silent Hill fans haven't been given a great deal to celebrate in recent years, but that changed with this week's announcement that Hideo Kojima is teaming up with visionary film director Guillermo del Toro to develop a new entry in the series starring The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus.
Does that sound like a match made in hell, or what?
Do you have any fond memories of Silent Hill 2? Post a comment below!