Saturday, November 05, 2011

games of our lives, part 1: Silent Hill 2

I've mentioned my ten favorite games of all time before, but didn't elaborate on them. This changes TODAY.

A few notes first:

  • Some of these are available on more than one console; I used the box art for the console I played it on.
  • I tried to keep my descriptions as spoiler-free as possible.
  • Aside from the first three games I talk about, these aren't necessarily in order.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

In the spring of 1999, I was working as an assistant manager at Blockbuster, and one day I was prepping games for rental when I noticed one that looked really cool, so I rented it.

That game was Silent Hill, and it changed my life.

You may think I'm exaggerating, and perhaps I am, but not by much. It fanned the ember of my love for the survival horror genre into a full-on raging inferno. I spent many hours in my dad's basement playing Silent Hill and freaking the fuck out. To this day, it remains the scariest game I've ever played, largely because I'd never played anything like it before.

Anyway, when Silent Hill 2 came out in 2001, picking it up was a no-brainer. I even bought a Playstation 2 for the sole purpose of playing it, and what a worthy investment that turned out to be.

In SH2, you play James Sunderland, a man who's received a letter from his wife begging him to meet her in their "special place". Which is fine, except...she's been dead for years. James wants to know what the hell is going on, so he travels to Silent Hill and things quickly go batshit, as they are wont to do.

SH2 isn't nearly as scary as its predecessor, but it improves upon it in almost every other way. At the time, the graphics were top notch. Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack was gorgeous, ranging from a melancholy music box tune to a song ("Black Fairy") that still freaks me out whenever it pops up randomly on my iTunes. Fan favorite Pyramid Head made his memorable debut. And I still maintain that the story more than holds its own against just about any Hollywood movie. It left me drained, breathless, and in tears.

An HD version of Silent Hill 2, paired up with Silent Hill 3, is coming out next year. Although I played it to death when it first came out, it's been a long time, so I'll be that special place.