This may contain minor spoilers. Just in case!
Ah! After 9 hours of game play I have finally finished Silent Hill: Downpour. Unfortunately, while I am an absolute fantatic of the series, playing the games doesn't always go best for me. I'm directionally challenged, missed sidequests, and was fumbling around a lot. I played on easy difficulty, and normal difficulty for puzzles. I recieved the "Truth and Justice" ending which I was very happy about. :)
When I finish a game I like to share what I thought some pros and cons of the game were. I'm not much of a "hard critique review" person, and these are only my opinions. Feel free to share your own!
1. Murphy is a great protagonist.
I think Murphy got a lot of critism in terms of being a protagonist. His demenor, story, and attitude seem to be much different then other protagonists.
Nevertheless, he reminds me very much of Harry Mason. While Murphy does technically commit a major sin (in all endings except for the A ending), his actions may seem justifiable by some. His other minor offense is stealing a car, and his record appeared to be clean other then that. He seems somewhat innocent compared to some in the series. I believe he really does feel immense amounts of guilt, and that he is confused, scared, and only looking for a way out.
I also love that he is a prisoner who is indeed, somewhat trapped in his own mind even before the events of Silent Hill. Some may have also found it strange that Murphy shows fear when being chased by the Void, or when being attacked.. but I really loved this feature. It shows true fear, and adds a touch of realism. It also gives a feeling of having a protagonist who's not some invisible hero. I rambled. Point is, I like the guy okay!
2. References to past Silent Hill games.
Yes, yes, yes! I love references! While Downpour's theme was very "in your face," there were some very well executed references from Silent Hill 2 and Homecoming (mostly). Throw in a couple of subtle references to Origins, as well as some revolviing around Alessa Gillespie and you've got yourself one happy Silent Hill nerd. :) Please not that I'm not THE biggest fanatic, so there's probably a ton more that I missed. Either way, I'm glad that they payed omage to the other games.
3. They executed the sidequests well, and I really found Murphy's diary interesting.
When I first heard that there were sidequests in a Silent Hill game I was a little bit iffy on the idea. Silent Hill has always had collecting, but never really doing a lot of mundane quests for the "residents" of Silent Hill. As I played, I found the feature interesting, and it adds to the game's "completionist" nature. If you're clueless as what to do your first time going through Silent Hill, there's always that little bit of "free" roam before the are of no return. You can unlock the shortcut through the Subway if you want to make your trip easier. If you forgot about that, don't worry! You can still back track through Silent Hill to a previous area.
As for Murphy's diary... who knows how the hell he got this diary in the first place? (I sure don't). I'm a huge sucker for back story on characters and putting the pieces together. I felt that sub character development was severly lacking in the game, and the diary made up for it. Assuming you could collect most of the entries that is!
1. The so called "monsters"
I'm normally a very jumpy person, but come on. Seriously Konami? The enemy designs were awful for this game. The lack of thought, design or variety was extremely disappointing. Not to mention that there weren't really any boss battles. The final boss was also pretty 'meh', and was, in my opinion, very boring. I miss the scare factor of enemies flying at you, looking incredibly menacing making you run for your life. These enemies were scattered rather randomly, and it didn't really make you feel like there was any danger in Silent Hill. Murphy wasn't exactly on a field trip, but the Void was the most menacing thing in this game. And it's not even a real enemy! Not to mention the craptastic combat system (which I won't get into).
Note that I did play this game on easy. On normal, maybe the enemy encounter rate and toughness goes up? I do know that health goes up in normal, which might change the player experience.
2. Blegh. The ending of the game.
I felt that Downpour was pretty good all the way through. Although a little more "quiet" then I would have liked (not many characters, enemies, otherworld, etc), it was still enjoyable to play. You expect an epic showdown of sorts at the end of the game with a great boss battle....... and then there's nothing. I did like the final "Otherworld," but the winding down of the game in it's final moments was almost enough to make me shut the game off. The game hands out first aid kits, guns, and ammo like it's candy. I feel like the ending was rushed, and that the developers got lazy. While I have no right to criticise, as I know making a game is no easy feat, I still feel that they could have tried harder. I was left feeling almost robbed at the end of the game and was asking myself, "I solved all of those puzzles and went through Silent Hill for this?"
3. The Characters.
Besides Murphy, there are not really any memorable or likeable characters in the game, which is a shame. If more focus were put on the characters, then perhaps I would feel differently. Characters like the mailman and DJ Ricks had potential, which was never acted upon. I haven't read the article on DJ Ricks yet, but seriously, what is his story? It's never explained (or maybe I didn't look hard enough).
The main antagonists of the game are not even focused on much either. While you get the general idea of Napier, Cunningham and Sewell, their lack of appearance in the game was a huge let down. The antagonists weren't even't characters that you "loved to hate". Other characters who were important to Murphy didn't get much mention either. I'm not necessairly saying the characteres were bad. It's more a case of unused potential that was utterly wasted.
Downpour is nowhere near the tier of SH1, 2, or 3. However, I quite liked it. It had a different atmosphere (which is a little hard to explain in words), and had many of the classic "Silent Hill" aspects. I will definitely be doing another play through in the future with my knowledge of what I went through my first time. Perfect length, great atmosphere, likeable protagonist, with room for a lot of improvement.
I hope you enjoyed this rather lengthy read!
P.S. It's 4 in the morning. Sorry for some of the spelling and grammar errors that are bound to be in here!