Archive for July, 2010

Heavy Rain Review (PS3)

Posted in PS3, Reviews on July 2, 2010 by satoshimatrix

A game unlike any other

 

As videogames become more and more popular and system hardware becomes more and more advanced, the fine line between game and film will continue to narrow.

Like it’s last gen predecessor Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain is not a videogame in the traditional sense. Heavy Rain doesn’t have you aiming a gun, rescuing a princess or seeking a high score. Heavy Rain is an interactive psychological murder mystery film presented in an interactive game.

Indigo Prophecy had plenty of mixed reactions. Some hailed it as excellent, others a confusing mess. Given that Heavy Rain is the evolution of Prophecy, is this game worth your attention, even if you didn’t like Indigo Prophecy? Read on.

Story

Without going into too much detail for the sake of spoilers, Heavy Rain is the story of a young father whose son has been kidnapped by a known murderer known as the Origami Killer, so known for leaving origami figures in the hands of each of his victims. He seems to target young people and leave bizarre clues behind. The central theme of the entire story asks how far will you go to save someone you love?

Graphics

Heavy Rain is in a word, stunning.Character models are hyper realistic and advanced motion capture conveys a sense that these CG rendered characters are real living people. After you become absorbed into the game, you’ll almost forget that none of the people you are watching actually exist. This feat is truly remarkable and only happens in a small percentage of gaming today.

However, as great as the people in Heavy Rain are, the environments are what truly impresses. Even without taking the power of the PS3 into consideration, the art direction alone makes this game a visual winner. Every location you encounter looks and feels like places that actually exist, and many of them could be places you’ve actually been to plenty of times.  The way the game depicts the world at large is simply unmatched.

Being a high budget PS3 title, Heavy Rain has some of the most advanced textures and varied graphics you’ll find anywhere. Effects are spot on, raycasting is used to its full effect, nothing is reused, everything looks great and there is never any slowdown.

The only flaw I’ve noticed is that lip movements don’t always match up to what is being said on screen. This is probably because the game was intended to play in its native French, so I’m not going to nitpick.

Audio

Heavy Rain features 90 voice actors, making it one of the largest productions for any game ever. Heavy Rain takes place in America, but unfortunately uses an all European voice cast. Every actor is excellent, but that’s not the problem with them.

Hearing British English covered up to sound American is about as natural sounding as you can imagine. There are times when characters sound so English rather than American it can break the fourth wall.

I would have much preferred they simply kept their European accents and made Heavy Rain take place in London Paris or something. That said, the voice cast are all professional actors and they all convey their lines with distinction and quality.

Beyond the acting, half of what makes Heavy Rain great is the score. Brooding, emotional, dramatic, frightening…the score will cause you to feel the whole array of emotions as you play each scenario. The composers compared the complexity of Heavy Rain’s soundtrack to making the scores for three or four films at once, because of the nonliterary of the story and given the number of pieces wither needed or not depending on what the player does.

Gameplay

In Heavy Rain, you will switch between playing as four characters: Ethan Mars, the father of the kidnapped boy, FBI agent Norman Jayden, Madison Paige, a journalist, and Scott Shelby, a private detective.

Each character will experience sequences of events that depending on what they do, changes events for everyone else, thus making this linear game anything but. Depending on choices you make throughout the entire game, future events can be altered for better or worse, or may not even happen at all.

Choices in Heavy Rain not only effect the ending, but also interactions with other characters, events and even who lives. Any of the four main characters can die in the game, yet the story will continue to progress.

It is literally impossible to get a gameover in Heavy Rain.

Control

Heavy Rain is confusing and hard to get used to at first because forward movement is done not by tilting the left stick, but instead by holding R2. You simply guide the character with the stick.

Before you go off crying how this sounds like Resident Evil’s tank controls, you should know that movement isn’t critical to the game and is used sparingly. Most of the time, you will be preforming timed button presses, famously called Quick Time Events.

Love them or hate them, Heavy Rain is filled with QTEs, but what separates the QTEs in Heavy Rain from those sequences found in action games  is that you are not expected to preform them flawlessly.

Indeed, you can completely fail them and the game will continue, though you’ll be at a disadvantage in solving the mysteries involving the Origami Killer, and in some sequences you can even die if you preform poorly.

There are a number of sixaxis sequences that require you to shake, tilt and otherwise move the motion controller during play. These sequences are novel and are a good use of the PS3 motion capabilities, but they feel tacked on. An Xbox 360 port without these would be just as enjoyable. I’m not sure the Playstation Move version this fall will make Heavy Rain any better. The waggle that’s already here is a little much in my opinion.

A possible issue for some may be the cinematic camera. Players have no control over the angles they see and this can occasionally leave you wondering around aimlessly, but rest assured, this is a minor complaint.

Frustration

Given the number of people who dislike timed button press sequences online, Heavy Rain has earned the nickname “Quick Time Events: The Game”.

If you are not skilled at QTE, you will find this game extremely frustrating to play. There are multiple difficulty levels to make QTEs easier or harder, but this game won’t win you over if you already hate this style of play.

Myself, I’m about middle ground. I don’t love QTEs, but I can see their value and Heavy Rain makes good use of them.

Availability and Price

Heavy Rain is a Playstation 3 exclusive, and makes good use of the hardware. Expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $60 for this game, even used.

Audience – Adults: Heavy Rain is a hard M rated game. There’s plenty of extreme gruesome violence, nudity, profanity, references to drugs, alcohol and prostitution. Younger players wouldn’t even understand all that’s going on anyway.

History

Heavy Rain began devolopment production in 2006 and was shown in beta form at E3 that year. Entitled “The Casting” this demo gave players an early glimpse at what Heavy Rain would eventually look like, the theme it would deal with, and the level of quality the final game would promise to be.  Here is that first look we all saw.

Heavy Rain has a free downloadable demo on the Playstation Network. The demo is fantastic and allows players unsure if this game is worth the price a chance to play it for themselves.

You should all check it out. Heavy Rain is a title that will go down on lists of the best and most unique videogames ever crafted. This game is a masterpiece of interactive entertainment.

If you still want to see more about Heavy Rain, check out the trailer below.

Trailer for Heavy Rain.

Data

Platform: Playstation 3

Genre: Interactive film

Release Date: 2010

Devoloper: Quantic Dream

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Software

Developer’s notable other works: Indigo Prophecy, aka Fahrenheit

ESRB: M

Buy or skip: Buy

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