E3: Silent Hill: Downpour

E3: Silent Hill: Downpour

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Bad 3D is the scariest thing of all.

I've always been a fan of the Silent Hill series, even though I've also been long aware of its shortcomings. The mythology surrounding the franchise has gotten more and more convoluted with each game post-Silent Hill 2, and the gameplay hasn't evolved very much since the first few games in the series. Still, I enjoyed Silent Hill: Homecoming, and thought that Shattered Memories, a reimagining of the first game, was an underappreciated Wii gem. I was happy to have the opportunity to get my hands on Silent Hill: Downpour on the E3 show floor today, and jumped at the chance to see it in 3D. After all, a game as atmospheric and creepy as Silent Hill is bound to benefit from three-dimensional visuals, right? As it turns out, not so much.

The demo began with the crashing of a prison transport bus, leaving prisoner Murphy Pendleton as the only survivor. He finds himself on a foggy stretch of abandoned highway, muttering about how something just doesn't feel right. Of course, anyone who has played a game in the series before knows how this is going to turn out: he'll eventually find his way into Silent Hill, and things will get seriously messed up.

I didn't quite get that far, though. I spent a few minutes wandering aimlessly, finding a crowbar and a flashlight, typical Silent Hill tools of the trade. My fifteen minutes or so with the game were totally devoid of any enemies, and were focused instead on exploration. I used my crowbar to break a rusty lock and climb to the roof of an empty building, which looked like someone had recently been there. Even without deformed nurses jumping out at me, the game still had some creepy environmental touches to set the tone.

Unfortunately, all I could think about was how terrible Silent Hill: Downpour looked in 3D. Not only did 3D do absolutely nothing to enhance the game, but the textures looked messy and ugly, which was really distracting. A quick glance at the non-3D demo next to me assured me that Downpour does actually look better in 2D, but I was really disappointed by the tacked-on 3D on the show floor.

The Silent Hill control scheme is really showing its age, and sadly, felt a little clunky and unintuitive. Melee weapons have always been a bit clumsy in the series, and it appears that Downpour won't be an exception. Just like in previous games, it looks like a variety of weapons will become available throughout the course of the game, and eventually more accurate firearms will come into play.

Ultimately, longtime Silent Hill fans are going to play Downpour for the story, and I didn't get far enough into the game to get a glimpse of how it fits into the rest of the series' mythology. However, for those who have never cared about Silent Hill, I don't think Downpour is going to make a difference in how they feel about the franchise.

Silent Hill: Downpour will be available in late 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

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See all our coverage directly from the show floor.

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I'm curious, was the camera freely controllable? I can't imagine 3D being anything other than a major pain in the ass if it were used with the classic fixed camera angles of the series.

Anyway, I'm a huge fan of the second and third game of the series, and I even rated Homecoming as somewhat decent. I want more Silent Hill, but I do not want a game that tries to sell itself on gimmicks like 3D, or worse yet QTEs *looks disapprovingly at Homecoming*

thethingthatlurks:
I want more Silent Hill, but I do not want a game that tries to sell itself on gimmicks like 3D, or worse yet QTEs *looks disapprovingly at Homecoming*

If memory serves, I think I remember reading a previous article about Downpour that mentioned it was going to have QTEs.

I don't know how to feel about this. I was encouraged by the studio's announcement that it was going to focus more on plot and fixed camera angles and more of the stuff that made the originals great, but now they seem to be contradicting themselves by throwing in the shoddy 3D and such. I suspect it'll be better than recent additions, but unless I hear more promising things about it, I don't think I'll picking this up in a hurry. I love SH, but sometimes I wish it'd just get a graceful death instead of thrashing about on the floor a bit.

Nothing much i've heard about this makes me want to buy it, but it's still early days I guess.

Also, I thought I heard somewhere that there is a Silent Hill Collection that contains the second and third games coming to the PS3? Can anyone tell me if this is true?

Captain Booyah:

thethingthatlurks:
I want more Silent Hill, but I do not want a game that tries to sell itself on gimmicks like 3D, or worse yet QTEs *looks disapprovingly at Homecoming*

If memory serves, I think I remember reading a previous article about Downpour that mentioned it was going to have QTEs.

I don't know how to feel about this. I was encouraged by the studio's announcement that it was going to focus more on plot and fixed camera angles and more of the stuff that made the originals great, but now they seem to be contradicting themselves by throwing in the shoddy 3D and such. I suspect it'll be better than recent additions, but unless I hear more promising things about it, I don't think I'll picking this up in a hurry. I love SH, but sometimes I wish it'd just get a graceful death instead of thrashing about on the floor a bit.

Even if they were to focus solely on plot, the game might still suck. Remember that a good chunk of the Silent Hill lore is related to that weird pseudo-satanic cult, which tends to make the stories quite stupid. While the experiences of the player may still be top notch, mostly due to the amazing talent of the previous design team and the soundtrack of Yamaoka, I'd hate to see what an inexperienced developer team will do to "Silent Hill Death Cult."
Yes, graceful death would probably be best...

thethingthatlurks:
I'm curious, was the camera freely controllable? I can't imagine 3D being anything other than a major pain in the ass if it were used with the classic fixed camera angles of the series.

The recent demo footage for the game (which can be found on the Silent Hill Facebook page) shows that it is mostly freely controllable, but there were parts where it was fixed.

Also, in regards to your Death Cult point later, I think they've said that they don't wish to include the cult at all in the story, and much like in 2 and 4 will probably be just part of a background lore.

The Red Dragon:
Nothing much i've heard about this makes me want to buy it, but it's still early days I guess.

Also, I thought I heard somewhere that there is a Silent Hill Collection that contains the second and third games coming to the PS3? Can anyone tell me if this is true?

It has been confirmed, as they have hired a new director for the voice acting (not sure why, I guess so it sounds crisper?)

OT: Just curious, is the 3D only for the PS3, or was there a 360 version as well?

When I first saw the OP's name, I at first thought it said "Shia LaBeouf." My apologies to Sarah.

Anyway, about the game. I wish they'd just follow Amnesia's lead and cut out the combat altogether, make avoiding the enemies absolutely mandatory. Now that would scare people.

Captain Booyah:

thethingthatlurks:
I want more Silent Hill, but I do not want a game that tries to sell itself on gimmicks like 3D, or worse yet QTEs *looks disapprovingly at Homecoming*

If memory serves, I think I remember reading a previous article about Downpour that mentioned it was going to have QTEs.

Yep, every boss is nothing but QTEs should my memory serve me right. All of them, which leads to a very disappointing conclusion.
1) QTEs will make the player have to hit the buttons faster and faster, starting from the reflex of an old man to that of a person AAA-ing DDRs toughest songs blindfolded near the end.
2) Simple 20-30second QTEs at first, to the final boss being an excruciating 6min long affair...
and
3) 1+2 into one of the worst things to ever be experienced yet in games, DO NOT LET YAHTZEE EVEN TOUCH THIS GAME, for his sake, not the games... we don't want Yahtzee to kill himself...

And honestly, the bad 3D says something about the game as well. If the team is content to have some hacked on 3D effects, that are going to be noticed, what does that spell for the game? Why restrict you to the beginning 15 minutes or so? How much of a bloody mess is the game beyond that point? Age of Conan was notorious for polishing the hell out of the beginning experience when it launched, leaving the rest a horrid, ugly mess, is this dev team doing the same?

Are they honestly trying to one-up Double Helix as worst developer to hand a series off to? Granted... I mainly hate Double Helix for the horrid fuck-up that was Front Mission (d)Evolved.

cursedseishi:

Captain Booyah:

thethingthatlurks:
I want more Silent Hill, but I do not want a game that tries to sell itself on gimmicks like 3D, or worse yet QTEs *looks disapprovingly at Homecoming*

If memory serves, I think I remember reading a previous article about Downpour that mentioned it was going to have QTEs.

Yep, every boss is nothing but QTEs should my memory serve me right. All of them, which leads to a very disappointing conclusion.
1) QTEs will make the player have to hit the buttons faster and faster, starting from the reflex of an old man to that of a person AAA-ing DDRs toughest songs blindfolded near the end.
2) Simple 20-30second QTEs at first, to the final boss being an excruciating 6min long affair...
and
3) 1+2 into one of the worst things to ever be experienced yet in games, DO NOT LET YAHTZEE EVEN TOUCH THIS GAME, for his sake, not the games... we don't want Yahtzee to kill himself...

And honestly, the bad 3D says something about the game as well. If the team is content to have some hacked on 3D effects, that are going to be noticed, what does that spell for the game? Why restrict you to the beginning 15 minutes or so? How much of a bloody mess is the game beyond that point? Age of Conan was notorious for polishing the hell out of the beginning experience when it launched, leaving the rest a horrid, ugly mess, is this dev team doing the same?

Are they honestly trying to one-up Double Helix as worst developer to hand a series off to? Granted... I mainly hate Double Helix for the horrid fuck-up that was Front Mission (d)Evolved.

You know they might be restricting the QTE to situational battle effects like in Kingdom Hearts 2.

How the might have fallen.

Nazrel:

cursedseishi:

Captain Booyah:

If memory serves, I think I remember reading a previous article about Downpour that mentioned it was going to have QTEs.

Yep, every boss is nothing but QTEs should my memory serve me right. All of them, which leads to a very disappointing conclusion.
1) QTEs will make the player have to hit the buttons faster and faster, starting from the reflex of an old man to that of a person AAA-ing DDRs toughest songs blindfolded near the end.
2) Simple 20-30second QTEs at first, to the final boss being an excruciating 6min long affair...
and
3) 1+2 into one of the worst things to ever be experienced yet in games, DO NOT LET YAHTZEE EVEN TOUCH THIS GAME, for his sake, not the games... we don't want Yahtzee to kill himself...

And honestly, the bad 3D says something about the game as well. If the team is content to have some hacked on 3D effects, that are going to be noticed, what does that spell for the game? Why restrict you to the beginning 15 minutes or so? How much of a bloody mess is the game beyond that point? Age of Conan was notorious for polishing the hell out of the beginning experience when it launched, leaving the rest a horrid, ugly mess, is this dev team doing the same?

Are they honestly trying to one-up Double Helix as worst developer to hand a series off to? Granted... I mainly hate Double Helix for the horrid fuck-up that was Front Mission (d)Evolved.

You know they might be restricting the QTE to situational battle effects like in Kingdom Hearts 2.

The only mandatory fights are boss battles, which take the form of quick-time-events.

http://www.destructoid.com/new-silent-hill-is-silent-hill-downpour-191066.phtml

cursedseishi:

Nazrel:

cursedseishi:

Yep, every boss is nothing but QTEs should my memory serve me right. All of them, which leads to a very disappointing conclusion.
1) QTEs will make the player have to hit the buttons faster and faster, starting from the reflex of an old man to that of a person AAA-ing DDRs toughest songs blindfolded near the end.
2) Simple 20-30second QTEs at first, to the final boss being an excruciating 6min long affair...
and
3) 1+2 into one of the worst things to ever be experienced yet in games, DO NOT LET YAHTZEE EVEN TOUCH THIS GAME, for his sake, not the games... we don't want Yahtzee to kill himself...

And honestly, the bad 3D says something about the game as well. If the team is content to have some hacked on 3D effects, that are going to be noticed, what does that spell for the game? Why restrict you to the beginning 15 minutes or so? How much of a bloody mess is the game beyond that point? Age of Conan was notorious for polishing the hell out of the beginning experience when it launched, leaving the rest a horrid, ugly mess, is this dev team doing the same?

Are they honestly trying to one-up Double Helix as worst developer to hand a series off to? Granted... I mainly hate Double Helix for the horrid fuck-up that was Front Mission (d)Evolved.

You know they might be restricting the QTE to situational battle effects like in Kingdom Hearts 2.

The only mandatory fights are boss battles, which take the form of quick-time-events.

http://www.destructoid.com/new-silent-hill-is-silent-hill-downpour-191066.phtml

Boss battles contain Quicktime-Events, as shown in Silent Hill: Origins.

http://silenthill.wikia.com/wiki/Silent_Hill:_Downpour

A primarily report based on limited information and a fan run wiki. Neither are particularly credible sources, but information on how the QTE's will be implemented is in conflict.

P.S. I'm not saying that Origins was good game design, never played it's so can't really say, but I've been led to understand the QTE's in it were situational based.

Neither have I to be honest so I am not sure either, but from what I've read Origins does have QTEs, but are situational at best (from a few strategy guides on Gamefaqs). Though a sentence like "boss battles contain QTEs" isn't exactly indicative of how they are implemented, and listing Origins only serves to say "Hey, this game had them too", it doesn't speak of how common they are.

It's rather annoying though, that such information is in conflict when the developers should make this as clear as possible. Even Homecoming didn't have much in terms of QTEs, just the one near the end from what I remember of multiple playthroughs.

My interest in this game is somewhat low as it is, and QTE-only bosses would definitely be one thing that would make me completely disinterested in it, so I'm hoping its only in some rare cases.

Wait... what sort of 3D do you mean? Is there a 3D version and a 2D version or a 3D-version-with-stereoscopic-visuals version and a 3D version?

See? This is why I don't like calling it '3D'!

 

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