29 December, 2012

This Year in Gaming - 2012

When asked what my Game of the Year is, it's never an easy decision. As someone who games for the majority of their day, I go through a lot of games, borrowed or owned. It's not often a game is played regularly through the year. One plays a game, plays the hell out of it if I like it, then moves on to different games. I guess the first thing to do is to take a look at the games which have come out this year.

I'll start with the Vita, for no real reason. It came out in December of 2011 in Japan, but 2012 everywhere else. I only recently got it as a gift from an old friend of mine and I was amazed and thrilled to get it. I have three actual games for the Vita, though I guess five if you count two free ones I got through the PSN+. The hard copy games I have are Lego Batman 2, Persona 4 Golden, and Zero Hour: Virtue's Last Reward. The two I got on PSN+ are Gravity Rush & Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Uncharted I didn't really like too much... it seemed weird to move and take action, but I haven't played it a lot to really form anything other than a first impressions.

Gravity Rush is really amazing, but I just haven't had the time to dedicate to it. I really want to play more of it though.

Lego Batman 2 is all right at best. I used to be a huge Lego fan, but after a few games it just got really old. It came with the Vita though so for a bit it was the only Vita specific game I had.

Persona 4 Golden is fucking amazing. I want to do a review for it in a few weeks so I'll leave it at 'fucking amazing' for now.

Virtue's Last Reward is incredible as well... it's the sequel to 999 and just blows me away. I haven't beaten it completely yet, but will do a review for it as well when the time comes.

The second most recent game machine I got was a 3DS back in May for my birthday. On an amusing note, I decided to conduct a small experiment on how long it would take my nephew to realise I had a 3DS without me mentioning it at all. He's usually pretty observant so it amused me to conduct this. It wasn't NOVEMBER that he realised the DS sitting on my couch was actually a 3DS. Anyway, I actually don't have a lot of 3DS games despite the length of time I've had this hand-held. My 3DS games are Resident Evil: Revelations, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, and Tales of the Abyss. There are some games on my DsiXL that I would have liked to put on my 3DS, but the DS's require you to use an internet connection setting that my router doesn't allow so... I can't really xfer them. I'll start by saying that I very rarely use the 3D function because it hurts my eyes a lot. I mean a lot. After maybe 10 minutes I get a headache and it's not long before migraine city starts sparkling around my room. That being said, all my thoughts are regarding a non 3D view of the game.

Tales of the Abyss is a great port. Everything looks awesome and the story is fine as ever. It's been ages since I last played this game and I really love playing it again. The additions they've made and controls they've added really shine.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a terrible addiction to me. Mixing rhythm games and Final Fantasy is a drug on par with the most addictive. Also, the graphics are so cute!

The two Resident Evil games haven't got much play from me because the controls anger me greatly. It's very hard to play a RE game on a hand-held, but I love the series and am determined to get through them. The story for Revelations intrigues me and I want to find out how it ends!

Now that the handhelds have had their glory time, I'll mix up the rest of 2012's consoles and we'll start off at the top with Final Fantasy13-2. It came out, here, in Feb and I did a review for it. I did review Final Fantasy 13, albeit the 360 version, and didn't have the most positive things to say about it... it was a lot of small things that kind of brought it down. I have recently started it again on the PS3 and my view of it is a little better, but this is about Final Fantasy 13-2, though I will leave this short as my views on it can be read in my review.

Feb also brought us Kingdoms of Amalaur: Reckoning. I tried to like this game, I really did, but it is just awful. I can't stand it. I really, really hate this game. From the voice acting to the graphics to the HUD to the quests. It's like an MMO that failed to be an MMO (I know it was slated to be an MMO in fact) and failed again trying to be a single player game. It's empty, lifeless, and feels like a watered down Skyrim in every way. I know people who adore the game, but I really just fucking hate it.

Dear Esther I will include because it is a game in a technical sense. It's a story that takes you through a puzzle of mazes in an intriguing and sombre fashion. The story is sad and finds you feeling sorry for everyone in the end. I had to play it twice to get the whole story because I missed a few things. The graphics are lovely and the music is spectacular and haunting.

Mass Effect 3. Well this game sure had it's share of controversy, but fuck that, seriously. I really enjoyed the endings provided and the expanded ones were even better. The graphics were solid and fantastic, the music was extraordinary, and the story was just great. I enjoyed playing Mass Effect 3 so much and the DLC was even more awesome. I haven't got the Omega DLC yet as it's holiday time and money is tight, but I will definitely get it and play it for sure. There's no question. I loved Mass Effect 3 and it's definitely a contender for my game of the year.

Another contender for GOTY is Journey. A PSN game that came out with March and blew me away. Hands down is has the best and most beautiful graphics of any PSN game I've seen and maybe of any game, period, I've seen. Music as well.. I couldn't believe how spectacular this game was, but coming from the same guys who made flOw and Flower... it can only get better from there.

Silent Hill: Downpour was my first platinum trophy and well deserved. I did a review of this game, but a review can hardly relay what an amazing experience this was. I'll leave this short as all my views on it can be read in the review.

Tales of Graces F came out in August here, much behind it's US release which was March. Regardless, this game blew me away. The last Tales game we got was Tales of Vesperia, which was my first 1,000 gamer-score game on the 360 back in the day. Graces F did not fail to live up to amazement. I've not yet platinum'd the game yet, but I felt I had to take a break as I have save files adding up to 500+ hours in it and I was starting to perform artes in my sleep. The graphics are wonderful, the music is solid and addictive, and the story is really quite amazing. It caught me by surprise in more than one place.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City came out earlier this year, but I only got it in Nov, I think. It's a great game, but a great game that I need t go through in small portions. I enjoy it, but I don't enjoy it for hours at a time and that's fine. A game doesn't have to entertain me for six hours at a time to be a good game. The graphics are quite good, the game-play it really nice, especially with friends, and the music is RE typical... not amazing omg, but not terrible. It's all right, but I will, more often than not, turn it off in favour of my own music.

The Silent Hill HD collection came out this year and a friend got it for me, and it's more than not, pretty great. There were a lot of issues when it first came out, but I didn't go through them as I didn't have the game at the time. The glitches and lag and bugs have been mostly fixed and it's not terrible. They changed a lot of the voices and such, but I don't really care. I have no special place for the original voice acting and I think the new voices are good. Not a ghastly port, but they could have give it some more time and did better.

Blacklight: Retribution is a game I was very much in to for about two weeks. After that I just... didn't want to play really. The graphics were nice, the progression and levelling up were all right and the matches weren't too bad, but it was just mediocre on all fronts and eventually just bored me.

Devil May Cry HD is amaaaaaaazing. As it's a compilation and HD re-release of the first three games (Special Edition version of the 3rd) it can't have my game of the year slot, but if I included re-releases then it would get the award hands down. Graphics: improvements and amazement. Audio: Fabulous. Story: Awesome as ever. I really loved this HD collection.

I spent so much time waiting for Xenoblade Chronicles to come out that I was almost in tears when I received it in the post. It was so good for a little while, despite the horrible, horrible graphics and almost intolerable voice acting. The story was intriguing and the combat was almost perfect. The side quests and missions were fantastic and the weapons and upgrade system was addictive. I spent so much time in the game until I just couldn't do it any more. I hated looking at the game because the graphics were just trash. I hated listening to the voice acting because it was so put on. I stopped playing it and eventually traded it in for another game and I really don't find myself yearning for it at all. I am so sad it came out on such a shitty graphic system.

The Witcher 2 was released on the 360 earlier too and it was pretty great. I'd got it on the PC, previously, and didn't really like it. At the time my PC couldn't run it too well so I had issues, but on the 360 it was really great. I enjoyed the graphics, music, and the voice acting was great... really the best thing about it was the voice acting. I went though one of two story-lines and always meant to go through the other, but after I beat it, finishing all the side quests I could, I didn't really want to go through it again. Eventually, it took the trade in route.

Diablo III also came out this year and I really enjoyed that game for a while. After Hell mode, though, it just gets too hard and looses it's fun. Things that hard just aren't appealing to me... I like a challenge, but I don't like beating my head on an unbreakable wall. The graphics are really great, the audio was nicely done, and the story was pretty cool. I might just pop back in there to start up a new character some time soon

Ys Origin is a great game, but the controls are a little wonky. I might try to hook up my xbox controller and see how it goes. It's full of cute sprites, 16 bit musics, and a story of Ys that I haven't played yet. 

Penny Arcade Adventures 3 also went a different route this time by giving us sprites and bitty music, but it was fantastic. It was a great direction they took and the writing was superb as usual.

I was more disappointed in The Secret World than I was happy about it. I loved playing it, but the graphics had all kinds of problems and it really just ruined the experience. The levelling system was great and the stories were really quite fantastic. I even recorded some Youtube videos for questing... I really enjoyed the game until the graphics just began crashing me so much. I heard its gone F2P now, but I also hear the graphics issues aren't sorted. How sad.

The Last Story is definitely my most disappointing game of the year. I waited so long and had such high hopes for this game and then I got it and it was just so terrible. Everything about it was terrible. There isn't one good thing I have to say about the game. I was just so crushed... all that waiting for such a good prospect of a game came crashing down. Such a let down.

Black Mesa was finally released this year and I love it! Technically it's a re-release so no GOTY for it, but omg it it so good! They did such an amazing job of this remake that it's almost like a new game and all the super achievements are just wonderful.

Borderlands 2 is also a contender for my GOTY. I'm going to do a review of it so I won't go into too much detail about it here, but oh man it's wonderful in every way.

When Torchlight II was in beta, I did a review of it, and I gotta say that it only got better. A review is in the works for this too so I won't say a lot regarding it, but I love this game and keep meaning to get back to it.

Resident Evil 6 grabbed a platinum for me and is also a contender for GOTY. This game is amazingly good in all ways. It caught so much flack, but fuck them. This game is amazing in every way. Music, graphics, story, game-play, combat, exploration... even the Mercenaries section was amazing and I don't usually play the Mercenaries. Will be doing a review soon for it.

Dishonored has yet to be finished by me, but I've made it a good distance through. It's such a bizarrely wonderful game. Graphics, audio, and story are all wonderful and some choices in the game make me really think that I am a terrible person lol. It's great when a game can make me question my own morals. Game-play is fabulous as well. I look forward to finishing this game.

Halo 4 came out towards the end of the year and though I haven't personally beaten it yet, but I have played a good deal of it and I've watched my nephew, niece, and sister play shit tonnes of it over here. It's a great game. The story is captivating and I love the graphical improvements. The combat is greatly improved as well, but I hate that they moved the melee again... I wouldn't say it's game of the year, especially since I've not felt compelled to beat it myself, but it's a beautiful and intriguing game with a story that is fantastic.

Man, I know I've missed something, but I can't think of it right now. So let's see what my categories are and what I've chosen:

Best Music: Journey
Runners Up: Dishonored, Silent Hill: Book of Memories/Silent Hill: Downpour
Note: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy would be the winner, but it had no original music, only music from other games, so there was no new and original tunes

Best Graphics: Final Fantasy 13-2
Runners Up: Borderlands 2, Journey
Note: There were so many good graphical games this year, it was hard to choose.

Best Combat: Borderlands 2
Runners Up: Silent Hill: Downpour, Resident Evil 6
Note: This was also hard to choose as I loved the combat in ME3 and H4 a lot as well.

Best Story: Silent Hill: Downpour
Runners Up: Mass Effect 3, Halo 4
Note: A lot of good stories this year, just because one isn't listed, doesn't mean it wasn't good. I just liked some others better.

Best Overall Gameplay: Tales of Graces F
Runners Up: Final Fantasy 13-2, Borderlands 2
Note: It's hard to find a game that has a great mesh of combat and movement for me as my hands are so twitchy from nerve damage.

Best Re-Release: Persona 4 Golden
Runner's Up: Devil May Cry HD Collection, Tales of the Abyss
Note: Although there was a lot of things added to Persona 4 Golden, it is still a re-release of the game, just with some additions.

Biggest Disappointment: The Last Story
Runners Up: Xenoblade Chronicles, The Secret World
Note: TSW was such a disappointment because of all the graphical issues which made it almost impossible for me to play or enjoy.

Worst Game: Kingdoms of Amalaur: Reckoning
Runner's Up: The Last Story, Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Note: Actually not a lot of truly bad games this year... not that I played at least.

Game of the Year: Borderlands 2
Runners Up: Resident Evil 6, Silent Hill: Downpour

And there you have it. Borderlands 2 was the best game, for me, this year. I enjoyed a lot of games and had a great time gaming this year and all my decisions are purely based on my own opinions. Silent Hill: Downpour became one of my all time favourite games this year, taking the place of Silent Hill: Homecoming at number 10, but it wasn't the very best of the year. It was a great year for gaming and there are still games from this year that I haven't yet played. I hope to play them and more in the upcoming year. 

06 November, 2012

Third Platinum

Today I got my platinum in Borderlands. This platinum is for the main game, not DLC, but it gave me the plat anyway, which is nice. Working on the DLC now. On the 360 version I played the Hunter and did everything on him, but on the ps3 version I tried out the Siren. I don't like her at all so when I beat the game, I started again as the Hunter and things went a lot better. Siren is fucking easy mode incarnate :( Not in a good way. I always have preferred the Hunter/Ranger/Sniper anyway. I'm happy about this plat... took some effort and time. Third platinum trophy for the ps3. Nice times.

26 July, 2012

This Week in Gaming 20 July 2012 - 26 July 2012

No little blurb today. Not having a good day... will post something in a few days.

This Week in Gaming

Top Three:
The Secret World (PC)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (PSP)
Fallout: New Vegas (PC)

Left 4 Dead 2
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

This Week in Musica:

09 July, 2012

This Week in Gaming 03 July 2012 - 09 July 2012

I've said most of what I've been doing yesterday so no need for a mini update.

This Week in Gaming!

Top Three:
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC)
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (PSP)
Diablo III (PC)

Portal 2
Left 4 Dead 2

This Week in Musica!

16 April, 2012

This Week in Gaming 9 April 2012 - 16 April, 2012

Top Three Games:
The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (PC)
MGS HD Collection: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS3)
Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
MGS HD Collection: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Star Trek Online

13 April, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2

So, I wanted to wait a little while to do my Final Fantasy XIII-2 review so that I could go through a little bit of the DLC that was promised to us. Now that that has occurred, I'll proceed. First of all, because I wanted to get XIII-2 on the PS3, I got XIII on the PS3 & traded in my 360 copy. This pained me a little as I only had two more achievements to get in the 360 version to get 1000/1000, but I knew I wouldn't be going back to that game. The PS3 version of the game is much nicer, more beautiful, and seems to run better, but it just might be that I hadn't played it in over a year when I got the PS3 version. As an added bonus, a save file from XIII got me some extra things in XIII-2.

The graphics have not failed to impress me and even though they aren't too incredibly different from XIII, they seem crisper and more fluid. Blu-ray also makes it even more lovely and I can appreciate the difference. The scenery, however, is where it really shines. Although the characters look mostly the same, the graphics of weather, flora, and fauna are so much nicer. I was very impressed at the weather in particular. There is one place that you can control four different types of weather and it's just amazing. It seems like a small thing, but I really enjoyed it when it rained, or when the thunder cracked. Oh man, it was great. Along with the crackling thunder were the other sounds of the game, obviously. Done well, as usual; I can't really see them screwing that up, but I am really torn with the music in XIII-2. Some of it is exceptional and some of it is just the worst ever. Whereas the majority of the voice acting was splendiferous, I really, really hated Chocolina's god damn voice. Every time I had to talk to her I just wanted to brick her. Serah's voice was all right... annoying, but well delivered. Noel, Hope, and Caius were my favourite voice work in 
What is Serah looking at?
this one. Just so precise and wonderful to listen to. And footsteps? Nope! I'm going to diverge from my normal procession for a minute and mention the interface of the game. XIII had an OK interface, but it was hard to see at times. XIII-2 has corrected this and made it a lot easier to read and what's even better is they included an option to magnify whatever your selecting. Making the text bigger is so nice since I have a lot of issues see shit at a distance. It really helps. Well now, XIII was much criticised for its very linear game play. The linear story is still there, but it does a good job at masking that, which is fine. All games are eventually linear, but the story needs to hide that. It's done with a lot of time travelling to get to where you need to go, find the pieces that you need to open the next time gate, and new time lines to explore in order to see alternate realities. All these eventually come together in getting to the end, so whereas you might decide to do one area before the other or make some choices different, you get the same ending either way. It's not a bad thing; I did enjoy going through the worlds and seeing all the different realities the game had to offer.

Fascinating windmills...
Another part of the game play, which is also part of the combat, is the monster taming aspect. Some relate it to Pokémon in that you capture monsters, then level them up to use in battle. OK, this is true, but I didn't really find it much like Pokémon. At the end of a fight, you have a chance to get the crystal of the monster you fought and then you can level them up with monster food items you find/buy in the world. There are monsters for all classes in the game and they fill the slot of the third person in the party. It's not a bad system. I didn't revel in the glory of it, but it was actually nicer than having to manage another stupid character I didn't care about (the other being Serah as Noel was great). You can make up your own Paradigm packs to whatever combination you want if you have the monster crystals, but really I used Rav/Rav/Rav and Rav/Rav/Com the most with Med/Sen/Med on the side. You can only have three monsters equipped so unless you want to put a load of stupid time into levelling up one of each monsters and switching constantly with your packs, just stick to the three monsters you'll use. While I'm here, the combat system has been so very much improved upon and I was elated to see that. Switching Paradigms is instant and as soon as you click on your new set up, everything is instantly usable. And the best thing? When the main character you are controlling dies, it switching to your other. You don't die! I'm so very happy they changed this issue as it was the worst thing possible in XIII and made no sense at all. You can change your party leader between Noel and Serah to utilize their specific 
Finally the Paradigm system works!
abilities or to just have a change up in battle. The classes were tweaked a little, though more so through the changes to the Crystarium. Instead of learning the classes and specific ability tiers, you just have one Crystarium per character which diverges onto the other class paths. At certain points in it you can choose one bonus out of a few (though you choose them all eventually). It's a more linear way to do it and I thought it was way better than the previous, bulky process. I had a really good time in the different time lines. The story was engaging and the characters were pretty awesome, except for a few retards, one of which was my female party member. Ugh. It was still better than having to listen to Vanille cackle all the time or Lightning whine like a five year old. I was sad that Hope couldn't be a team member, but thrilled at his part in the game. He was my favourite character in XIII and I was very happy to see him back. Noel's story was incredible and really made me feel for him and his plight. It was so well done, bravo. There is so much to do in the game, including mini games and all the awesome trophies/achievements you can get. The end times in the game is fantastic. The ending fights, the ending cinematic, and even the song was pretty cool. It was worth it for the time I put in.  

Noel Auditore da Firenze?
The post game was good too. When you beat the game you are given an item which allows you to view paradox endings and those are really sweet. You can also unlock a few new battle additions like the choco stopper (I think that's the name, it's 2am and I don't have the game turned on) which speeds or slows your battle. I sped up my battles and they go by so quick its awesome. Grinding is a lot better, but the thing is that it also speeds up the cut scenes, which is annoying. I wish there was just a battle speed up and a leave the cut scenes the fuck alone setting. Ah, well, I know what went on in the cut scenes anyway, but still. I got a lot of the trophies done, though I can't remember how many at my first beating of it, but it was a great amount. And now the topic which I hardly ever write about: DLC. Usually I will write a review before any DLC comes out, but the DLC was so hyped for XIII-2 that I wanted to wait a bit. Promises of DLC had been around since XIII-2 was announced and boy have they laid it out. Colosseum battles, costumes, weapons... they have a lot to offer and even more on the way. I bought a few of the weapons, some of the outfits, and some of the Colosseum battles expecting joy and for the most part, that's what I got. I like the outfits I downloaded and the battles in the Colosseum are great. I still haven't been able to beat Ultros/Typhoon, but I am slowly getting them down every time. The Assassin's Creed costume for Noel is the absolute best and the N7 costume for Serah is my favourite for her. I don't see myself getting any other costumes, but the Colosseum battles are awesome and, except for Sazh and Jill, I 
Commander Serah Shepard?
have got them all. Sazh and Jill I didn't get because I hated their characters in XIII and have no desire to acquire them. Because of the eventual linearity of the game, there is no replay value, but I guess they got around this with the post game and DLC. There is really a lot to do and I'm not even done with it all yet. I was sad to not see any Espers (Eidolons), but I guess they aren't needed due to all the other things in the game. Weapons and armour were a lot like XIII in that you upgraded what you got to make a more powerful weapon, though you did have to find materials to make most of the items. That was a pain sometimes, but in the end it wasn't too much of a trial. I was also happy to see that the weapons you made in game were more powerful than the DLC weapons, overall. Of course, it all depends on what you want to do with your character as to the weapons you used; different attributes and abilities.

Final Fantasy is a huge series and full of many games with their own spin off, but that being said, it's not for everyone. A lot of people are also sick of the series and that's their right, but I would still recommend playing this game, at least once through. It surprised me, I admit it. I wasn't going to play the game, but in the end, how could I not. It's Final Fantasy. Give it a go if you're interested in JRPG's. It's worth some time :)

At least someone got an awesome haircut

03 April, 2012

Silent Hill: Downpour

At the time of this writing I've almost completed my second play through of Silent Hill: Downpour on the PS3. I'd heard that it got bad reviews & negative feedback, but that doesn't add up to feedback I've personally got from it. People I know who've played it really enjoyed it & I'm no different. Silent Hill: Downpour has now replaced Silent Hill: Homecoming as my favourite game in the series. A big claim, I'm sure, & it comes from having played all the Silent Hill games there are, excluding Arcade, which I can't find for the life in me. So what makes this game so incredible? Let's move on to the review with a warning that I'll be including some spoilers here & there, but I don't think anything massive. The game play of Silent Hill has always been one which manages to suck me into it & Downpour is no different. It took me a little while to realise that as you got hit, the amount of blood on your outfit showed how damaged you were. You can check on the Statistics screen about your health %, but I found that just paying attention to the state of my clothes was easier. I didn't realise it at first because I automatically assumed that my clothes would always be drenched in blood or tattered.. this is a Silent Hill game after all. Moving around Silent Hill is a chilling experience which is only heightened 
Creepy fog & unnerving drizzle
by the dismal weather; rain & fog. If it's not foggy & wet, it's drizzling or even a full on thunder storm with bizarre lilac lightning, reminiscent of a screaming ladies scream, but we'll get to that in a few. One thing that usually annoys me in games is being able to hear your own footsteps, but I didn't mind it too much in Downpour. It sort of fit & the footsteps made sense. Like on grating, it would sound like walking/running on grating, & puddles splashed. It became natural & part of the background noise, which is nice. Doing tasks & moving through inventory was also done well as I never felt aggravated at a move I had to do or something I needed to get from my pockets. It was handled really well.

I'll move right into the combat now & say that it was miles better than Homecoming. Whereas Homecoming has good combat ideas, they came off a bit awkward at times; especially with jumping back up or dodging. Downpour doesn't let you dodge or jump back up, but it does let you block & something I found awesome about that is your block is dependant about what item you have as a weapon. Like if you block with just your hands/arms, you take damage, as you're blocking with your body, but it's less. If you block with a frying pan or something, then you can block a little damage, but it will probably break. Blocking with things like chairs or harpoons or fire extinguishers will prevent damage for several blocks. The monsters have patterns you can follow if you pay attention & that is a key factor in beating them. You need to keep your eyes open & sometimes it's better to just run. Seriously. You need to run from some battles or you will die. This is a great thing they pulled over from Shattered Memories. All the monsters have names you can find at the awesome Silent Hill Wiki, but since I don't check anything the first time I go through a 
Beware the screams of the damned
game, I had to come up with names for them all & they sort of stuck lol. It will be easy to determine what I'm talking about though; the names are rather descriptive. You can use loads of things to attack with from guns as melee to rocks on the ground to rakes & shovels. One part which also belongs in the combat section is the Otherworld. In Downpour your trek through the watery Otherworld will, primarily, involve you fleeing from the Void, which I nicknamed Wtfisthatthingomgrunrunrunrun. It involves quick thinking, paying attention to your surrounding, & using every second in the best possible way as you run down halls & through obstacles without getting sucked into its disintegrating grasp. It's a little harrowing, actually.

Following the combat system is going to have to be the graphics. They are not the best graphics to have ever been & the monsters are the best graphics in the game. That isn't saying that the graphics are shit; they are quite good, but not the best of games out there. Silent Hill has never had the best graphics available to the gaming community, but it hasn't needed to. The only real issue I have in the game is the FPS issues that are hindering it as you progress through the game; I actually attribute it to all the save files you can have as the game auto saves & doesn't delete the auto saves, but makes new ones, creating huge caches of auto saves that it searches through constantly. 
Puzzles have varying difficulty
We've seen this in other games & they will probably patch it, but for now, the graphics suffer a bit. That's more performance, than graphics, however. As I said, things look nice, not holy shit real, but nice. The water looks so real & the monsters are truly ghastly to look at sometimes. Especially the second to last boss you fight... wow, impressive in a very real way. The ambiance & dreary world permeates every move you make & it draws you in. This is also brought in by the sound & music. Together with the ambient tracks, & also the actual OST by Daniel Licht, Silent Hill eats your sanity away. The giggling, the echoing, the screams, the strange little noises here & there... together with imagery & sometimes lack of anything, unnerves you in a big way. Some of the buildings you head into are further creepified by the music that plays & it's not all original music... there are old songs, like Born Free by Andy Williams & Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen by Louis Armstrong, & some more modern sounding ones too that start playing & give the world a surreal aspect. I'll make a list at the end of all the licensed music, which I recognised, used in the game as I don't think there is a list out there that I can find. The music is amazing & I got the OST before I was even done with the first play of the game.

The story & side quests. I'll start off by saying that the side quests are a truly amazing addition to the world of Silent Hill. No more are we guided from start to finish, wondering about the town or wishing we could see more. These quests give you the chance to stray from the path & explore the town of Silent Hill. It takes you into the lives of people who lived there & lets you find out more about the inhabitants. It's often been said that the world of Silent Hill
that we see, is not the world that anyone else sees. Not only is it the world of our characters only, but it might be completely different than the inhabitants even. There is a part in Silent Hill 3 where Heather is speaking to Vincent Smith & she mentions the monsters she's facing & Vincent says 'Monsters? They look like... monsters to you? ' Even though he says he's just joking when Heather gets worried, he really isn't. The monsters being fought in the game are not monsters, they are people. Silent Hill bends reality, as Bobby says in Downpour, it does 'strange things' to reality. This is actually reinforced a little by the unseen scoring system in Downpour that determines your ending... if you kill monsters, your score gets worse, but if you just incapacitate them & go, then your score actually goes up; it gets better. I could talk forever about the theories around Silent Hill, but I'll stick to this game of course. This all comes into the side quest situation in that you can see how people are slowly going mad from Silent Hills invisible punishment system. As the people, who live in Silent Hill, become more obsessed with guilt or passion, or whatever, the town begins distorting their world & how they see life & it's amazing to go through the quests & take that journey into oblivion with them. The quests are done really well & give you a genuine creepy feeling. There are also quite a number of awesome Easter eggs pertaining to the other Silent Hill games; pictures of previous characters & locations, & also a room that looks exactly like Henry's from The Room. One quest in particular, The Gramophone, was so unnerving that even though I was in a well lit room with my nephew sitting next to me playing Halo multi-player loudly (this was my second run so I didn't mind the non Silent Hill noise), it was still so freaky that even he stopped his game, dying several times, his eyes glued to my screen as I controlled the slow, inevitable death that was occurring. It was all encompassing.
Henry's room from Silent Hill 4: The Room
The main storyline is not obvious at first. You're thrown into the game with blood on your hands almost immediately & you don't know why. You're told to do something that is much like skewering a pig, but to a person & the game wants you do to it for no known reason, brutally & without remorse. This sets a rather dark stage that ends up following you through the entire game. As you move through the story, you meet a few other characters, a few of them are not explained in the game, & their fate is unknown in every ending, with resolution only coming to two characters, & even then, it's left a little weird. I didn't figure out the entire canon story until close to the end & that's a good job on the game for keeping me guessing that long. It's a creepy story that opens you up to guilt & self delusion, & how that can become reality & the world you live in. You create your world by your actions & what you do effects how you see things. Living inside yourself is a big theme & the need to come to terms with that & accept truth instead of delusion is a driving point.

What is real?
In the end of all things, this game is not worth the disservice it was given. You can choose your difficulty for both gameplay & puzzles, each has its own setting. Silent Hill is a series that holds the award for being the only series that can seriously freak me the fuck out. It is entrancing, beautiful, creepy, & haunting, & if you're a fan of the genre of horror/survival horror, then you should pick it up. If it's not your style, then nothing I'm saying will really make you want to play it, & that's fine. I'll rank this game mighty high in my favourite games ever. 

Edit: 05 April, 2012: Silent Hill: Downpour is now my first platinum trophy. I love this game & the amazing ambience, voice acting, & story therein. I hope that the voice actors will return in other games, especially Murphy's voice actor. Amazing work on this fantastic game.

Now I will place the licensed music that I heard so you can check it out. Also, be sure to listen to the OST from Daniel Licht (he also did the music for Dexter).

Andy Williams – Born Free
Louis Armstrong – Nobody Knows The Trouble
James Vincent McMorrow – If I Had A Boat
Doves – Willow’s Song (Bury Version)
Anna Ternheim – Words of Love
Ed Harcourt – Here Be Monsters
Jonathan Singleton & The Grove – I’m Afraid of Storms
Highwaymen – Silver Stallion
The Coals – I Wanted A Lover, I Needed A Friend
Kris Kristofferson – Why Me Lord
Ed Harcourt – From Every Sphere
Anna Ternheim – Off the Road

Welcome to Silent Hill