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Silent Hill 2 is a 2001 survival horror video game published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 and developed by Team Silent, part of Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo. The second installment in the Silent Hill series, Silent Hill 2 centers on James Sunderland, a widower who journeys to the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife informing him that she is waiting there for him. It was published in September 2001, and an extended version containing an extra bonus scenario, Born from a Wish, and other additions was published for Xbox in December of the same year. In 2002, it was ported to Microsoft Windows. A remastered high-definition version was released for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 in 2012 as part of the Silent Hill HD Collection.

Work on Silent Hill 2 began in June 1999, soon after Silent Hill had been completed. Its narrative was inspired by the Russian novel Crime and Punishment (1866) by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and some of the influences on the game's artistic style include the work of film directors David Cronenberg, David Fincher, David Lynch, and Alfred Hitchcock; cultural references to history, films and literature can be found in the game. In contrast with the previous title, whose narrative concerned cult activity, Silent Hill 2 focuses directly on the psychology of its characters.

Silent Hill 2 received critical acclaim. Within the month of its release in North America, Japan, and Europe, over one million copies were sold, with the greatest number of sales in North America. During release, it was widely praised for its story, use of metaphors, symbolism, psychological horror and taboo topics, soundtrack, atmosphere, graphics, monster designs, and sound design. However, it received criticism for its controls despite their improvement over the previous game's. It is often considered to be one of the greatest horror games ever made and among the greatest video games of all time, as well as a key example of video games as an art form. The game was followed by Silent Hill 3 in 2003.

Plot

While not focusing on the characters and plot threads of the first Silent Hill game, Silent Hill 2 takes place in the series' namesake town, located in Maine. Silent Hill 2 is set in another area of the town, and explores some of Silent Hill's backstory. The town draws upon the psyche of its visitors and ultimately forms alternative versions of the town, which differ depending on the character. The concept behind the town was "a small, rural town in America"; to make the setting more realistic, some buildings and rooms lack furnishings.

Letter from Silent Heaven

James Sunderland (Guy Cihi) comes to Silent Hill after apparently receiving a letter from his wife Mary (Monica Taylor Horgan), who died of an illness three years before. While exploring the town, he encounters Angela Orosco (Donna Burke), a teenage runaway searching for her mother; Eddie Dombrowski (David Schaufele), another teenage runaway; and Laura (Jacquelyn Brekenridge), a bratty eight-year-old who befriended Mary and accuses James of not truly loving her. While searching a local park, James also meets Maria (Horgan), a woman who strongly resembles Mary but has a much more aggressive personality. Maria claims that she has never met or seen Mary, and because she is frightened by the monsters, James allows her to follow him.

Following Laura to a hospital and searching for her there at Maria's insistence, James and Maria are ambushed by the monster Pyramid Head, and Maria is killed while James escapes. Afterwards, James resolves to search the hotel that he and Mary stayed at during their vacation. On the way, he finds Maria alive and unharmed in a locked room. She claims ignorance of their previous encounter and begins discussing elements of James' and Mary's past that only Mary would know. James sets off to find a way to free Maria but returns to find her dead again. Later on, he rescues Angela from a monster, after which she confesses that her father sexually abused her, with a newspaper clipping implying that she killed him in self-defense before coming to Silent Hill. James also confronts Eddie, who admits to maiming a bully and killing a dog before fleeing to Silent Hill. When Eddie attacks him, James is forced to kill him in self-defense.

At the hotel, James locates a videotape which depicts him euthanizing his dying wife by smothering her with a pillow. In another room, a final meeting with Angela sees her giving up on life, unable to cope with her trauma. She then walks into a fire and is never seen again. Afterwards, James encounters two Pyramid Heads, along with Maria, who is killed again. He comes to realize that Pyramid Head was created because he needed someone to punish him, and all the monsters are manifestations of his psyche. The envelope from Mary disappears and both Pyramid Heads commit suicide. James heads to the hotel's rooftop, and depending on choices made by the player throughout the game, he encounters either Mary or Maria disguised as her.

Silent Hill 2 features six endings; Konami has kept their canonicity ambiguous. In "Leave", James has one last meeting with Mary, reads her letter, and leaves the town with Laura. "In Water" sees James commits suicide by driving his car into Lake Toluca with Mary's body in the car. The "Maria" ending sees Mary as the woman on the rooftop, who has not forgiven James for killing her; after her defeat, James dismisses her as a hallucination and then leaves the town with an alive Maria, who briefly coughs, suggesting she will become sick just as Mary did, and the cycle will repeat. The other three endings are only available in replay games, including "Rebirth", in which James plans to resurrect Mary using arcane objects collected throughout the game, and two joke endings: "Dog", where James discovers that a dog has been controlling all the events of the game, and "UFO", where James is abducted by extraterrestrials with the help of the first game's protagonist, Harry Mason.

Born from a Wish

Born from a Wish is a side-story scenario in the special editions and re-releases of the game in which the player takes control of Maria shortly before she and James meet at Silent Hill. After waking up in the town with a gun and contemplating suicide, she resolves to find someone. She eventually encounters a local mansion, where she hears the voice of its owner, Ernest Baldwin. Ernest refuses to let Maria into the room he is in and will only talk to her through its closed door. After Maria completes tasks for him, Ernest warns her about James, whom he describes as a "bad man". After Maria opens the door to Ernest's room and finds it empty, she leaves the mansion. At the conclusion of the scenario, Maria contemplates suicide once more, but ultimately resolves to find James.

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