Author Topic: Video Game Review Thread - $$$Possible Spoilers$$$  (Read 91 times)

Offline TNC

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Video Game Review Thread - $$$Possible Spoilers$$$
« on: March 15, 2016, 06:57:56 AM »
So it's been quiet here, and I'm bored so, here's a thread for video game reviews.  If you'd like to post a review for a game feel free to.  I'll start with what I've played most recently.

Silent Hill: Downpour (PS3/Xbox 360)
“Wherever this thing goes, it can’t be any worse than back there… can it?” – Murphy Pendleton, clearly having no idea what’s in store for him…

Overview
Silent Hill: Downpour is the 8th game in the franchise and was released in 2012 and developed by Czech Republic based Vatra Games (which went under right shortly after the game was released).  Downpour is a stand-alone story that is set in the previously unexplored south-eastern region of Silent Hill.  Which as an aside, if this fan made map can be trusted, Silent Hill is pretty damn big…  Speaking of big, this is probably the largest game in the franchise with plenty of hidden things to find.

Story
Downpour once again takes us to everyone’s favorite slice of hell.  This time you are inmate Murphy Pendleton.  The game starts off with a very dark tutorial, Murphy has made a deal with crooked prison guard George Sewell to get some alone time with a sequestered prisoner Murphy has a bone to pick with.  Once you get into the showers said sequestered prisoner arrives in a fan disservice moment (fat guy wearing nothing but a towel around his waist), and then you get the combat tutorial as you chase the unarmed guy around the room and kill him.

So then the game cuts to you getting transferred to another prison.  On the way your bus goes off the road (pro tip: keep your eyes on the road) crashing just outside Silent Hill.  As usual you’ll have to make your way out of the town while learning about why Murphy went to prison.  In a way, Downpour is a spiritual successor to Silent Hill 2, instead of focusing on The Order (the psycho cult responsible, directly or indirectly, for the horror in the other games) it presents the town itself as a malevolent entity that draws in people with checkered pasts and tries to kill them until they learn something important.

Along the way you’ll run into a few other characters: Anne Marie Cunningham (a cop with a vendetta against you, who got a tie-in comic released in 2014), Howard Blackwood (a mysterious mailman and one of the few African-American characters in the franchise), Bobby Ricks (someone who seems to know a thing or two about how Silent Hill works, another African-American character), JP Sader (a guy who used to run a train ride at The Devil’s Pit with a dark past, one of the game’s more interesting locations), and Frank Coleridge (in flashbacks, a corrections officer who’s trying to look out for you).

Gameplay
As with other Silent Hill games, you have to survive monsters, solve puzzles, and get the hell out of Silent Hill.  This time around you have a Journal where your Gameplay Tips, Objectives, Memos (“Mysteries”), and Maps are.  As far as combat goes, you can only equip two weapons at a time, a melee weapon and a gun or two guns. However you will have to ditch one of those guns to use a melee weapon to get past barricades (like in Homecoming).  Like in Origins weapons will gradually degrade and break, this includes at least shotguns, forcing you to get new ones.  As I mentioned, you need certain weapons to get past various obstacles: hatches/fire axes/pickaxes for boarded up areas, any heavy metal object for padlocks, and latter hooks to pull down ladders.  There’s usually one of these near said obstacle.  Unlike Homecoming, swinging melee weapons is a little slow and you’ll likely take a couple hits fighting a monster.  While aiming a firearm the reticule will move around a bit.  You can also throw most melee weapons.  Monsters will become more aggressive and more numerous during storms forcing you to go indoors.

Like Silent Hill 2 & 3 you can change the game difficulty and the puzzle difficulty separately.  This time you will find a UV flashlight that you’ll need to get through some puzzles.  As I said before this is quite possibly the largest Silent Hill yet and has a new sidequest feature.  You don’t have to do any of them but most of them reward you with items, trophies/achievements, or little tidbits of information.  A couple of sidequests: “All Points Bulletin” and “Homeless” make the game a bit easier.  The first one gets rid of police cars around town that summon monsters when you get near them while the second one opens up subway tunnels for you to get around town faster.  Almost all of the sidequests involve solving puzzles or item fetching.  Three sidequests give unique weapons: “Cinema Verite” awards the Golden Gun, “The Art Collector” awards the Tomahawk, and “Shadow Play” awards the Demon Statue.  The Golden Gun is a more powerful version of the base handgun, but you will get less ammo for it since while you have the handgun every other handgun you pick up gives you more ammo, which doesn’t work if you have the Golden Gun.  The other two are melee weapons, with the Tomahawk supposedly being one of the best weapons in the game (though its acquired at a point where advancing the main story will give you very limited time to use it).

As expected you are shifted to the Otherworld, the twisted hell beneath the surface of Silent Hill, several times.  Unlike previous games, the Otherworld spaces are completely unique areas with only slight thematic similarities to the area you were in before.  The Otherworld also differs in appearance, often having lots of water around and impossible geometry (one room is called “Escher Room” for good reason).  There’s a fair amount of puzzles in Otherworld segments, as well as chase sequences where you are chased by this creature called “The Void” which is basically a red tinted black hole that will slowly kill you when it gets close to you. 
There are a lot of different areas to explore, perhaps my favorite is the aforementioned Devil’s Pit, the first cave system (that I can remember) in a Silent Hill game (or at least one I’ve played.)  This is also the only Silent Hill without a hospital.  Also there’s no more “The lock is broken, this door cannot be opened.” As areas you can’t go are just boarded or walled off.
It wouldn’t be a Silent Hill without multiple endings, and Downpour has 6 endings.  The four “main endings” are based on the hidden karma meter.  Said karma meter is based two things, three moral decisions (two at the beginning of the game and one at the end) and killing monsters.  Killing monsters means you lose karma points and because of this it means the last moral decision is more important when determining the ending.  After beating the game once it unlocks the sidequest “Digging up the past” where you’ll dig up (yes, you’ll need a shovel) artifacts around town and when you get all of them it will unlock the joke ending.  The sixth ending does not unlock a trophy and is more of a non-standard game over; just let the final boss kill you.  This means you’ll have to play the game three times to get all the endings (or if your near the threshold for killing enemies, the final boss sends a bunch of mooks after you so if you can kill enough of them you might be able to get the four non-joke endings in one playthrough, but I don't know what that threshold is).  Also this is one of the few Silent Hill games where you have to go through the whole game to get the joke ending, most of them cut some time off of the game.

The Bad
It’s probably the best looking Silent Hill, but there are a few issues.  Bobby Ricks’ model doesn’t seem as good as the other characters.  The game uses an auto-save system, which can cause some lag and prevents you from going back (as it only keeps 4 save files and at least on the PS3 you can’t copy data to cut down on play time to get all the endings).  The two weapon system is kinda annoying considering the fact that previous games had unlimited inventories (except for Silent Hill 4: The Room).  There are some lag issues although it’s mostly fixed with a patch.  Also the monsters are a little too human looking compared to the previous games.  Plus the game has several points where you'll lose at least your weapon(s) and flashlight, the worst of which is near the end when you cross the point of no return and loose EVERYTHING, including the 15 or so First Aid Kits you'll have picked up by this point.  The final negative is a minor one, but there's no New Game+ feature which means no infinite ammo laser pistol and you'll have to start any sidequests over from scratch when you start a regular new game.

Final Verdict
All in all, I’d have to say this is a solid entry in the Silent Hill franchise.  It’s not the best (IMO that’s Silent Hill 3), but it’s still pretty good.  I’d have to give it a 7.5 out of 10, mostly due to the lag, limited weapon system, clunky melee combat, and mostly disappointing monster designs.  I’d recommend this game to Silent Hill fans; although I figure most of them have already played it.  If you haven’t played a Silent Hill before, but like horror games then I’d say give this one a shot since you don’t really need to know the franchise to play it (though you will miss out on all the little references).

EDITED: To fix an error and add some details.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 12:11:12 PM by TNC »
“Nightmares end.  They shouldn't end who you are” – Bob Stookey – The Walking Dead – “Four Walls and a Roof”