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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There is still a tremendous back-and-forth argument on the correct way to interpret James. Many see him as a heartbreakingly sympathetic man put into a terrible situation and who ended his wife's suffering as a result, while others see him as a selfish Jerkass who murdered his wife to move on with his life. However, the fans aren't the only ones, as James himself is unsure of which is really true, and his exact motivations for killing Mary vary depending on the ending you get.
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    • Silent Hill (the town) only tries to lure in people who have really poor control over their legs.
    • Beyond pursuing the protagonist, what Pyramid Head's exact purpose is is a matter of debate amongst the fandom. Theories range from a demon brought to existence to torture James for his perceived prior sins to being a personification of James' repressed sexual desire.
    • Despite what the main page would suggest, there is actual debate as to whether or not Pyramid Head really is a rapist. As this fan eloquently argues, it's plausible to instead believe that the infamous assault on a Mannequin scene is actually a re-enactment of James' smothering his wife.
    • Some people think Angela's mother was being abused by her father as well, and reacted callously to Angela as a result of fearing punishment from him.
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    • Before James says "It's hot as Hell in here" as Angela ascends up the fiery stairs, he's seen wiping the front of his face. Was he wiping sweat off his brow because of how hot it was, or was he wiping away tears running down his eyes knowing he can't help Angela?
    • In the "Maria" ending, James's line "You'd better do something about that cough..." and they way it's delivered has been interpreted differently by players. It could either be concern (i.e. "You should see a doctor."), or a subtle threat ("...or else.") Either way, each interpretation implies a different kind of tragic ending for the two.
    • Mary in the Leave ending. Is she just a manifestation of the town meant to soothe James after everything he's been through, or is it really Mary, given a final chance to speak with James and convey that she has no ill will towards him?
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  • Anticlimax Boss: Pyramid Head. When you first meet him, you'll just have to evade his attacks till he leaves. Near the end of the game, you encounter TWO Pyramid Heads. You'll have to repeat the same process, then they'll just spontaneously kill themselves.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The radio "game show" that takes place in the hospital elevator. Maria simply asks "What was that?" and nothing more is made of it in the story. From a gameplay standpoint, though, it might be good to pay attention. The correct answers are the code to open a chest in one of the storage rooms of the hospital with a nice amount of supplies. Get the answers wrong and you get a face full of acid.
    • The Dog Ending certainly qualifies. Especially when the dog starts growling at something... hairy.
  • Better Than Canon: With the controversy surrounding the HD Collection and the increasing efforts from modders attempting to fix the ailing PC port of the game, many consider the fan-made Enhanced Edition project as a superior alternative to the HD Collection's version of Silent Hill 2 as it not only retains the game's original features, but also improve upon them and aims to restore missing elements from the PlayStation 2 version (e.g. the soft shadows, uncompressed audio, 60 FPS FMVs).
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: It's often held up as the pinnacle of the series and one of the best examples of the Survival Horror genre. However, most of its acclaim was focused on its story, atmosphere and visual design, with many critics less impressed by its awkward, repetitive combat and nonsensical, unintuitive moon logic puzzles. Interestingly, the game actually featured an option to disable its combat altogether, allowing players to experience the game solely for its story and puzzles.
  • Even Better Sequel: The first Silent Hill was well-received, but Silent Hill 2 is not only considered the defining game of the series, but also one of the greatest achievements in video game horror (and indeed video game narrative in general), primarily thanks to its more psychologically compelling and complex storyline.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • "Silent Hill 2" is universally lauded as the best entry in the whole series, yet it’s also responsible for introducing the concept of the hero having to own up to their tragic backstory as they enter the town, a plot point that would become increasingly controversial in later installments such as Homecoming and Downpour for instance. It was better received here as the games before and after this one developed by Team Silent didn’t focus so much on the characters being flawed individuals but rather as capable fighters trying to survive against the hoards of monsters, making James’s struggle and the twist that inspired him to go to the town feel suspenseful and unique. Once the games were exported to American developers they started focusing too much on them being flawed people with tragic backstories that it became very tiresome and predictable.
    • The game is also notable for introducing "Pyramid Head" and the sexy nurse demons, two of the series’ most iconic monsters who would appear in later games and the live action movies, so much that they’ve become the unofficial mascots of the series. Their use in this game was effective as they were not only there to represent James’ sexual frustrations towards Mary and the guilt he had towards murdering her, but because out of the Team Silent developed games, they were only exclusive to this game alone note . After Team Silent disbanded, they began appearing constantly in later games and in the movie adaptations; the symbolism that made them unique was gone and they became generic slasher villains who popped up as mere fan service with little to no symbolism whatsoever.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In the West, the game is held in high regard and is considered the pinnacle of the series as described above. It wasn't all that well received in Japan and it, in fact, kind of bombed. This was mostly because Japanese fans were expecting a direct sequel to Silent Hill instead of what they deemed to be a spin-off with tenuous links to the first game at best. Silent Hill 3 did fare better in Japan due to having stronger links to the first entry, while in the West it had more of a lukewarm response since across the pond, the lore about The Order is generally considered one of the dullest aspects of the series.
  • Goddamned Bats: Lying Figures can get to be this (especially on Hard Mode), since some of them do not wait to be stomped before they immediately crawl away. They can do a surprising amount of damage if they crawl right into you.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Eddie's story is that of a troubled young male social outcast whose trip to Silent Hill turns him into a monster who finds it ever easier to rationalize his heinous crimes, and directs much of his rage at idealized images of masculinity that he feels he can't live up to. It was already disturbing enough when the game came out, but experiencing it again after a wave of mass shootings in the 2010s committed by people who fit Eddie's character description, it's downright frightening. This video by The Gaming Muse goes into more detail.
  • Ho Yay Shipping: You'd be surprised, what with the many Alternative Character Interpretation, that James was gay all along and that Pyramid Head is the physical manifestation of his pent-up emotions, people tend to pair them up A LOT.
  • It Was His Sled: James killed his wife. By extension is that Pyramid Head, the monster most persistent in chasing after and antagonizing James, is a physical embodiment of his guilt and desire to be punished for it.
  • Jerkass Woobie: While how sympathetic James is a matter of debate amongst fans, there is no doubt about the plight of these characters he meets on his journey through Silent Hill:
    • Maria is a tulpa of Mary Shepherd-Sunderland who shares her memories, personality, and attachments, and unlike Pyramid Head, is an independent entity on at least some level. When she discovers the truth about her nature as a torture implement created by Silent Hill, she nearly shoots herself before accepting her destiny in the hopes of earning James' love. She meets up with him only to get separated from him later, and sobs when she finds him again. Throughout the game, she is killed repeatedly by Pyramid Head before facing off with James and attempting to kill him when he rejects her. Once she's at his mercy, all she can do is repeat his name over and over again. To drive the nail in further in one ending, it's implied that even though she got what she wanted from him, she is about to suffer the same fate as Mary.
    • Eddie counts as well, though there's more emphasis on the former part than the latter in his final appearance.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moral Event Horizon: Eddie could count as a Jerkass Woobie up until he cheerfully brags about how he violently killed a dog and shot its owner's knee.
  • Narm:
    • "I hate bowling." "We didn't come here to play, you know."
    • "You...YOU FARTFACE!"
    • "This town is full of monsters! How can you sit there and eat pizza?!"
    • "Eddie, have you gone nuts?"
    • "LET'S PARTY!"
    • Some of the voice acting in general can be called this, due to awkward cadence, tone, and inflection.
    • The bizarre noise replacing the radio static to tell players monsters are present in Maria's scenario; while unnerving and loud at first, it quickly begins to sound like you're being pursued by Jet Jaguar.
    • And there's also Laura's little meltdown when James tells her he killed Mary.
      Laura: You killer! Why'd you do it?! I hate you! I want her back! Give her back to me! I knew it, you didn't care about her! I hate you, James! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!
  • Narm Charm: To fans, the awkward voice acting from the original releases made the characters much more believable as ordinary people. The new voice acting was so poorly received not because it was bad, but because it was too good; to wit, it sounded much more slickly dramatic and professionally acted, which fans believe undercut the verisimilitude of the game's story. Troy Baker, for instance, does an outstanding job voicing numerous gruff, badass characters, but James Sunderland is a decidedly non-badass Classical Anti-Hero and the "gravelly tough-guy" voice doesn't suit him.
  • Never Live It Down: James sticking his hand into a toilet without so much as a sound of protest or even rolling up his sleeve. Not only do the sequels love to make fun of it, but it's a fairly common Shout-Out for the series.
  • Nausea Fuel: Meeting Eddie while he barfs incessantly into the toilet. You don't see anything, but the sound effects are more than enough.
  • Player Punch:
    • Pyramid Head suddenly appearing behind James without any warning and giving chase is utterly terrifying and made gutwrenching when he murders Maria while James looks on from an elevator, helpless.
    • If that wasn't bad enough, Maria comes back to life and is killed at least twice more.
    • Although the plot twist has fallen into It Was His Sled territory, the reveal that James killed his wife is still quite devastating.
    • Angela calling out James for his white-knighting near the end of the game. Her speech makes it clear that her problems go deep, and can't be solved so easily. Given James has just come to his own crushing realization, it's worse by the fact that even if she could be helped, James really isn't one who's suited to help her.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • While not exactly a disaster, the PC version has a few issues. Music skipping can be solved with a fan patch, and the game isn't designed to run on multi-core machines so you get voice de-synching and other issues if you don't manually set it to run on one CPU core (CTRL+ALT+DEL>Processes>Set Affinity). Thanks to the ongoing community efforts of various modders however, this can be easily fixed on modern systems with the Enhanced Edition project and then some.
    • The Silent Hill HD Collection due to Konami's loss of the original source code, renders SH2 and 3 this. Technical issues include voice acting that lags slightly in cutscenes (inexcusable considering they recorded new voices for all the characters for this release), the removal of graphics that were used to cover up incomplete graphics in the original game, and slowdown in the PS3 version whenever the HDD is accessed, among many other issues. The collection also made several changes to the game's visual style, such as making the colors more murkier/duller and effectively removing the series' iconic fog, which were very poorly received by fans.
    • While the Xbox version of the game plays perfectly on an original Xbox, playing it on an Xbox 360 turns it into this, as the emulation is imperfect. This leads to a lot of flickering/missing textures in the scenery.
  • Signature Scene: Plenty.
    • The introduction of Pyramid Head, both in the hallway and proper. He certainly leaves an impression.
    • The reveal that James killed Mary.
    • Angela's final scene in the burning staircase. Jesus.
    • On a much less depressing note, the dog ending.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: It can take awhile for players to get into the game. The first two hours or so of the game aren't particularly scary, as the player mostly faces unchallenging and easily avoidable enemies in a single fairly dull apartment building, culminating in an anticlimactic Hopeless Boss Fight against Pyramid Head who is effectively incapable of harming the player. This section of the game is also light on story too: the only real plot developments are the introduction of James, Pyramid Head and three secondary characters. The story starts to get going shortly afterwards once James meets Maria, and thereafter the game starts to become much more frightening, with the deeply unnerving hospital sequence, more challenging enemies and the Mind Screw-y Psychological Horror elements to the game becoming more prominent.
  • So Bad, It Was Better: While the voice acting in the original game was hardly bad all around (Mary's letter reading has been near-universally praised), it was noticeably less polished than the voice acting of the HD collection. Naturally, there were fans who preferred the former regardless.
  • That One Boss: Eddie can be really annoying compared to the other bosses. Mostly due to using a gun.
  • That One Level:
    • Getting to the Silent Hill Historical Society requires James to slog through long, very dimly-lit streets full of enemies, which slows the game's pacing to a crawl.
    • The basement of Brookhaven Hospital on Hard Mode, especially if the player is attempting to go for the "Maria" ending. It's difficult to see where you're going without running into walls and losing speed, which will allow Pyramid Head to catch up and easily kill Maria. Even if he doesn't kill her, Maria can take enormous damage here if you're not careful, which will blow the requirement of keeping her protected from monsters for the "Maria" ending.
  • Tough Act to Follow: While most fans like part 3, there aren't many who prefer it over this one. As for 4...
  • The Scrappy: Laura. Fans hate her for her antagonistic role, which to many feels too realistically like that of an aggressive, unpleasant brat. Not helping is when that brattiness manifests in ways that actively impedes James (such as when she kicks an important key away from James and stomps on his hand for trying to stop her) or even endangers him (as when she locks him in a room full of monsters). Whilst she does have her justifications for acting the way she does, which are revealed over the course of the game, and Word of God is that she can't see the monsters, this is revealed so vaguely in the game that, combined with her antics — especially her final scene where she rages at James at the worst possible time, which is the metaphorical final straw for many — many fans don't acknowledge (or care) that this is the case. Combine with the fact that the Leave ending, the only unambiguously good ending in the game, has Laura leaving Silent Hill with James and suggesting he's going to adopt her, and the result is that she has a prominent Hatedom.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: "White Noiz", the ambient track that accompanies the opening bathroom scene of the game.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Even after almost 20 years since it first came out, the game is still gorgeous to look at to this day. From the fog in the town to the facial reactions, it’s aged very well.
  • The Woobie:
    • Angela definitely qualifies. The picture of her profound pain and misery and the horrible abuse she endured becomes clearer and clearer as you go on, but it's one line from her in her final appearance that cinches it: "Even Mama said it: I deserved what happened." Just... Fuck.
    • Eddie is revealed to have been mercilessly and viciously tormented for his weight and his apparent mental slowness. While he certainly didn't deserve to be treated that way, he ends up blowing his audience sympathy with how he deals with his issues: The end to his arc, unlike Angela's quiet, suicidal desperation, involves him gloating about slaughtering a dog and crippling a bully that was mean to him, blaming all of his cruelty on being bullied without any Silent Hill-induced self reflection and ignoring the lesson he needed to learn, which was that causing pain to others would never soothe his own. James is ultimately forced to kill him in self-defense because he refuses to accept that truth.
    • Maria might qualify if you play Born From A Wish. At the end she comes to realize she's just a torture implement created by the forces of Silent Hill and considers committing suicide.
    • Pretty much all of the characters with the exception of Pyramid Head and Angela's family count really. Whether they hang on to it all the way through or not depends, but every one of the main characters will have your sympathy at some point. Although given that a few cutscenes show that Pyramid Head seems to be in constant pain due to his head/helmet, even he has at least one sympathy point.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: How a majority of fans reacted to the change in voice actors for the HD Collection, with Troy Baker and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn replacing Guy Cihi and Monica Horgan as James and Mary Sunderland being particular standouts. Not that they’re bad voice actors (quite the opposite, really), rather many felt they were miscast in the roles, believing Baker’s gruff antihero portrayal didn’t fit James’ overall character, whereas McGlynn was criticized for sounding too deep for the soft and gentle spoken Mary. Even McGlynn noted her own voice was too deep, but the producers cast her anyway.

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