The lights are on
I may be extremely biased, but as a huge fan of past Silent Hill games I enjoyed Silent Hill: Downpour. I bought the game the day it was released and instantly regretted my decision in doing so. I completed it on normal difficulty in less than three days and still regretted paying $60 for it. I agree with most of what every critic has said about the game, but I still found myself having fun, and I'm not sure that I can explain why. Stay tuned for my attempt.
Downpour follows the story of a man named Murphy Pendleton who engaged in some reckless behavior and wound up in prison. The violent opening scene sets up the rest of the game's plot. Murphy is set to be transferred to a different prison, but the bus carrying him and other inmates to the prison crashes. It's no coincidence that it crashes in the town of Silent Hill. As Murphy, you must find a way to escape Silent Hill. You'll find out about Murphy's past as the game progresses. You'll discover that revenge is a long, treacherous road.
Perhaps it is this story that kept me glued to my TV screen despite the game's numerous flaws. I certainly found it very interesting. Besides Silent Hill 2, Downpour probably features the best story of any game in the franchise. It's predictable after a certain point, but it plays out nicely. The ending depends on how the game is played and the choices made by the player; however, there aren't many choices to be made, which is disappointing. I made "good" choices, but I chose to keep on the offense throughout the game, resulting in a bittersweet sort of closure.
Why I chose to fight instead of flee is still a mystery to me because the combat is awful. I will never in a million years be convinced that a crowbar can break as easily as a piece of wood. I hate the block-and-then-swing-like-crazy approach. I'm also now convinced that Murphy has a severe case of Parkinson's disease because he cannot hold a gun straight. I finally gave up on aiming with any gun in the game and just hammered on the right trigger the entire time. It worked.
The Otherworld chase sequences were kind of cool the first couple of times but I got very wore out on them as the game went along. Vatra should have made the Otherworld explorable as in the older Silent Hill games. In Downpour, it's mostly just run from point A to point B and try not to die. As disappointing as this may be I applaud Vatra for taking the risk and trying something new. I just wish that they had been even riskier with their efforts.
Exploring Silent Hill in Downpour is a blast because the town has never looked this good. I got so much enjoyment out of simply exploring to see what I could find. There is one easter egg in particular that made me giddy with joy. That being said, the game could have looked a lot better. Downpour runs on the Unreal Engine, which has been used in games such as Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3 and Gears of War 3, all of which are visually superior to Downpour. The game has some serious frame rate issues and some really annoying bugs.
I know that it has problems, most of which I have pointed out, but I liked Silent Hill: Downpour. So sue me. It's not a great or even particularly good game. I would suggest not spending $60 on it. Wait a couple of months and buy it used at GameStop or something (by "something" I mean don't buy it at GameStop). It is as average as average can be. If I ranked the Silent Hill games it would be toward the bottom of my list. I liked it, though. I really did.