It’s been a while since I tossed my enraged opinion about something on the site, but there’s been trouble brewing on the internet lately.
As hardcore fans of the original 3 Silent Hill games, it seems like our expectations can never be matched with each new addition to the series. Silent Hill 1 was a masterpiece of terror, the sequel was a marvel at twisting a storyline to truly make the player ponder its outcome, and the 3rd had moments of fear great enough to not proceed into the next room. So what happened since then?
I have enjoyed every edition of Silent Hill ever since the 1st “trilogy”, looking past its flaws and soaking in an atmosphere that only that series could produce. It’s been a very long time since then, and sadly, they haven’t gotten the respect they’ve deserved with the advance to the newer consoles. With the greater technological feats available since the original, it’s amazing how little innovation Silent Hill: The Room (X box and PS2) and Silent Hill: Homecoming had to offer. That said, they were solid games that were worth playing regardless.
Silent Hill: Homecoming attempted to bring a new generation of fans into the franchise by integrating a better control scheme, with its protagonist being ex-military. With counter attacks and dodging, you could now be able to stand your ground against the creepy opponents scattered throughout. While it was an appreciable attempt at changing up the gameplay style, it also took away the unnerving sensation from hearing that fabled crackle of your walkie-talkie. It was a solid attempt to recapture the magic of the early titles, but no dice.
In Silent Hill: Downpour, our hero is a convicted felon with little experience in melee combat, like all of the other characters before. As a core mechanic of the game, you’re forced to choose from feeble weapons lying around the ground. From a rock to a fire axe, everything is breakable and shouldn’t be kept for long. The inhabitants of Silent Hill are disturbing, but not as they were before. Gone are the indescribable bipedal forms, insects and dogs of many of the old games; you’re met with small groups of human-like monstrosities. Depending on the weapon you’re holding, they will react differently (and aggravatingly smart at times) to you. Point a pistol at a couple of encounters, and they will actually back off. Pick up a rock, and they’ll charge you.
In addition to this mechanic, you’re limited in time to explore Silent Hill’s main town without ducking into shelter, thereby resetting the rain that starts pouring in. The harder it rains, the more aggressive and numerous the random enemies are. 90% of the time, as it was before, running is your best option. If you’re an achievement whore, not killing any monsters is an option. (A melee confrontation ends with a KO, and you have the option to finish them off with your feet or chair-in-hand)
Mechanics aside, it’s the story that counts, and its here that I truly believe that IGN can suck on my balls.
Sorry, couldn’t type any longer without unleashing some of my rage toward the dumbest site for reviews on the entire internet. Giving this game a 4.5/10 (or “bad”), these pricks once again hire a pompous ass to rip apart a game that obviously took a lot of effort to make, and creative strides were made. But go ahead and rate the 12th rehash of Call Of Duty a 9/10, because as we all know, a complete lack of innovation is not a review factor, but rather a selling point nowadays.
OK, back to the game:
The graphics are very detailed and make the best use of the Unreal Engine outside of Gears to date; while I personally found some of the stuttering while exploring to be annoying, it’s not game-breaking by any means. As a design choice, the “otherworld” sequences are kept on the lesser end of the game, as you will spend most of the game in reality. Thankfully, the game has a plentiful and intriguing line of side quests for you to sniff out as well, making the 1st playthrough a lengthy one.
When you DO experience the otherworld, it’s a fantastic, eerie and disturbing romp where reality twists right in front of you.. Rather than sticking to what has worked before, the developers clearly tried (and mostly succeeded) in thinking outside the box. Instead of a gross factor, or a sense of despair and darkness, the player is treated to a visual feast of metallic imagery and subtle references. On top of this, your character for the first time in the series actually acts out what he’s seeing, and screaming when he’s in danger.
The sound and music are a mixed bag this time around, with myself missing the old score of previous titles. While I enjoyed the music of this game, the take is a bit more of a classic horror film, rather than the strange metallic noise that the old games had. The sound effects are very well done, however, and help bring you to the edge of your seat at times; the audio of the walkie-talkie (used to detect enemies) is thankfully re-imagined to make a bit more sense, and force the player to tense up from the lack of distancing the old setup had.
The combat is the most mixed of opinions of fans and reviewers alike. My personal take is that it’s generally a smart move to make the combat clumsy and difficult, as it brings the realism and tension back; with a lead pipe in hand, you would still have difficulty taking 2 opponents down. It’s admittedly frustrating to deal with enemies even on a 1-on-1 fight at times, but for the MOST part, it’s unnecessary to engage enemies to begin with. Only in the final act does certain encounters get truly frustrating, but we’re talking about me here.
My only other major complaint is the technical problems that I ran into, which was mainly from the outside world, and its persistent loading. Crossing the park means to stop the music, combat, and even the rain from occurring to allow the other side of the park to load. Reaching intersections means a constant stutter, which again, isn’t game breaking. It’s annoying as piss though.
I won’t get into the story, but I will confirm that there are actually endings for once, with the “A” ending actually being a rather satisfying one. With choices in the game, you’ll sculpt the main character into whom he is, and why he’s in Silent Hill. Oh, and there’s Korn at the end credits. Take that for what it is.
So again, it’s not a perfect game by any means, but neither were any of the other titles. It was about sitting in front of your tv, lights off, and letting yourself get sucked in. (Turtle Beach headsets help out a bit too, if you have the heart to take it.) I think many of the reviews were picking on a game for its flaws, rather than appreciating what the game does to you in the right environment. I think this developer (Vatra Games) has what it takes to really outdo themselves next time around, and finally give the fans the terror that we’ve missed all these years, and maybe “earn” a 6.0/10 from IGN.
Hi Res: Great atmosphere, fresh gameplay in a dying genre, great story
Lo Res: Can be confusing, some annoying combat sequences, technical stuttering
Verdict: A worthy, fresh addition to the franchise. IGN can suck my balls, in case you missed that.
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