Silent Hill: Downpour (Video Game)
Developed by Vatra
Distributed by Konami
Rated M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes and Strong Language
Available for Playstation 3 (reviewed) and Xbox 360
Silent Hill: Downpour is the eighth major installment to the Silent Hill video game series. The series has had some up and down moments in its history that began back in 1999, and while Silent Hill: Downpour won't launch the series into new heights, it is a solid experience that is well worth checking out.
The game stars a new protagonist named Murphy Pendleton. Murphy finds his way into the dreaded town of Silent Hill after the prison bus he is being transported in careens off the road killing many of the passengers allowing for the perfect distraction needed to escape. As the story progresses, you begin learning more about the personal history of Murphy and just how he ended up in this predicament, and you also learn more about Silent Hill. The storyline gets better the longer you play, and the rewarding ending means Silent Hill: Downpour has one of the best storylines featured in the series to date.
The game takes place in a different section of Silent Hill not featured in previous titles, and you'll encounter a variety of new enemies as well as a few classic baddies. Of course, there is a good variety of side quests and puzzles scattered throughout the game to complete as fans have come to expect in the Silent Hill series. The terribly frightening Otherworld is another interesting change that offers up some of the game's most tense moments, as you find yourself fleeing from a giant ball of energy that wishes to consume you whole. You'll also be offered choices throughout the game that typically result in the death of a character in the game to add a nice role playing element to the game. Unfortunately, this mechanic too often results in nearly the same consequence and takes away from what could've been a really interesting story dynamic.
The biggest change or enhancement the game offers up is in combat. You'll primarily rely on melee weapons to fend off enemies that you'll find throughout your time in Silent Hill. The weapons degrade over time, and they can eventually completely break, and since you can only carry one melee weapon at a time, you'll really need to approach enemy encounters cautiously. The game does allow you to carry one firearm on Murphy at all times as well, but ammo is scarce and guns are even harder to come by. Combat can seem a bit clunky at first, but you will quickly warm up the whole block and then attack strategy as you encounter more and more strange enemies.
If you were to take still shots of the game and compare them side by side with other horror titles from this console generation, Silent Hill: Downpour would stack up very nicely. The problem with the game's graphics comes when actually playing the game. You'll frequently encounter frame rate drops, pauses and skips, and other graphical errors that constantly interrupt gameplay. This is really unfortunate in any game, but it is nearly disastrous in horror video games that rely so heavily on creating immersive environments in which to frighten players. An average presentation is salvaged by some really creepy sound effects and a really amazing soundtrack featuring the rock band Korn.
Silent Hill: Downpour is one of the best Silent Hill games you'll find on a next generation console. The game features many new gameplay mechanics while still somewhat sticking to its roots. The game does have some problems and a relatively weak combat system, but the overall experience is one well worth experiencing. Fans of the series can rejoice that there is now another fun game to add to their collection, while newcomers will find this game understandable without having extensive knowledge on the history of the series. Just make sure you don't find yourself caught out in the rain!
Silent Hill: Downpour was released on March 13, 2012. For more information on the game, check out the official Silent Hill: Downpour website.
3 1/2 out of 5
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