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Xbox 360 Game Review
The survival horror experience begins after a prison transport vehicle careens off the road, leaving lone inmate Murphy Pendleton stranded in Silent Hill. To escape Silent Hill you'll have to solve mind-bending puzzles, as well defeat horrific creatures and other world terrors using everyday objects from wooden chairs to glass bottles. The natural response, fight or flight is left to the player as they unravel a dark, thought-provoking storyline which will appeal to fans of the early, classic Silent Hill series, as well as anyone who enjoys a deep, psychological horror experience. In addition to the main storyline, players will also be presented with variable side quests along the way that can change depending on their play style, revealing unknown evils within the town...
I remember buying and playing the very first Silent Hill game back in 1999 and being genuinely creeped out by just how freaky it was. Since then there. Silent Hill: Downpour is the eighth game in the series and is by far and away the worst offering to date.
Ask yourself this question: What makes a Silent Hill game a "Silent Hill" game? I think, universally, the answer will be "a creepy, jumpy, freaky experience that is designed to give you nightmares. So surely, when developing Downpour, this is what the developers should have had at the back of their minds. Unfortunately, apart from the odd moment, there's very little here to unnerve you. There are the occasion flash of promise (like the blood soaked hand that slides down the glass in the cable car (if you spend the time looking through the coin operated viewing binoculars on the observation platform); the legs that are dragged around a corner by unknown hands; and the weird room with another room on a slanted wall (which makes you feel giddy just looking at it)). However, for the majority of this game you're going to be running around without a clue as to what you've got to do.
Each level can only be completed once you've accessed all the hidden items and fixed or solved some puzzle (be it fixing a broken lift or working out the combination to start a piece of machinery). Even then you'll have to examine and reexamine all your clues (if you even manage to find them) before you can progress to the next level.
After several hours I realised that all I was going to be doing for the remainder of the game was wandering around hoping to stumble on something that would help me progress and then spend ages trying to work out yet another puzzle that was so ridiculously designed that I'd be stuck, yet again, while I tried every conceivable thing I could think of.
The opening of the game was also a bit of an odd experience. You start in prison where a prison officer informs you that you've got a chance to attack another inmate. He leaves you in the shower room and when the guy comes in you have to attack him with the weapons that have been left there for you. Call me old fashioned, but killing another human in cold blood with no motive didn't feel right - not even in a game. Maybe if we knew why we wanted to kill him it might have made things a little more logical, but being told to kill someone for the sake of it... well, it just felt a little uncomfortable. Those that play this and don't ask themselves "why am I being forced to attack this man?" or "I wonder what he did to deserve this" and instead blindly kill him for the sheer hell of it, should probably stop playing games and go and seek professional help.
On the presentation side, while it looks impressive I was surprised by the appalling frame rate - which makes your character judder on a regular basis. And the combat system is terrible - it's simply a case of pointing your character in the right direction and button mashing the attack button (you can guard against attacks, but that's pretty pointless) and hope that you kill your enemy before they attack you. There's not much in the way of variation of enemy either (every now and then a new one is thrown into the mix) but it would appear that even the monsters have left Silent Hill.
Downpour seems to have thrown out "creepy" and "freaky" and replaced them with "frustrating" and "boring". Avoid this mess of a game.