Overview (no major spoilers): You play several different characters in hopes to track down a serial killer that targets children. There are many twists and exciting plot reveals as the game goes on. Most of this takes place in rainy or dismal settings, so get used to your characters being wet all the time.
Issue seen on PS3Slim (others have seen same on original PS3, I dont have one to confirm):
Ok lets talk about the issue I have with the game so that we can get to the good stuff. The video is choppy. No two ways about it. I have the new PS3 Slim and the video jerks and stutters just enough to be annoying over time. You can tell its pushing the system pretty hard. Other times its smooth and beautiful. Most of the time the jerky video is not during anything fast or major, just when the character may be walking it looks like Monty Python sketch about silly walks. It doesn't tear, it merely is just a very slight lag when moving the character, 1 step is smooth 2nd step is slower, 3rd step is slower yet then back to smooth again maybe 2 steps and repeat the slow down. Its not overt and you might not notice it at all. Ok thats my major gripe, now onto the game.
Fantastic and feels very immersive. At first the interface seems really clunky and weird until you get the button combinations down then it is very smooth and easy to figure out. Eventually you really dont have to think about it at all. This game is rewriting what interfaces are in video games and even though it is cutting edge it sometimes feels a bit like Dragon's Lair. If you find that you just cant keep up due to whatever reason you can change the difficulty setting by selecting how comfortable you are with the PS3 controller. They attempt to use the sixaxis controller like it was meant to be used but it feels a bit, eh, ok. Its not as intuitive as say, Flower [Online Game Code - Full Game].
The load times do take a little longer than I would like, however they use it as a chance to show off the incredible facial modeling and motion capture. The characters look around and you can see the really fine attention to detail.
One thing I like about this title is its frank dealing with adult themes. Its not overt sexuality, but there is nudity both male and female, and also psychological illness and struggle that most children would not be able to handle. I recommend this for people over the age of 18 and also with sound mental capacity. Reason being is, the story has some very dark imagery that is both disturbing and essential to the thriller. There are graphic depictions of drug use, and it is not pretty.
At times in the beginning you can practice fighting with doing other mundane things such as juggling and playing with one of the children in the game. It shows you through a very inventive way the skills you will need later on to fight. One thing that I like is that the producers offer this in a subtle way. Once you have this hit X now - Up - now Triangle, Now down sort of timing it becomes second nature. If you remember Dragon's Lair then you will find yourself right at home here.
The game is dark, its almost always raining, there are times though when you can escape through a virtual environment in the game to lush areas. It is always beautiful and quite breathtaking to see some of these vistas. After playing for several hours to see the sun was very refreshing and almost brought my spirits up. Then it was back to the case. The visuals are spot on. There are pieces of plastic caught in the barbed wire of the fences, cans roll around the street, there is dirt under and over a light switch on the wall. These are some of the great details to look for. So much attention to the small details help to make it more believable. In the beginning you are in a modern home with fantastic architecture and it looks just like a movie set. Textures, reflections, water all play very integral members of the cast. At times I forgot to move because I thought I was watching a movie, not playing one.
Vocals & Storytelling:
I am playing the US version and the voice acting is very good. I appreciate the vocals at times more than the graphics (which is saying alot). They are actual actors and not the textures guy doing a voice for the game. What you get is a compelling story told through many peoples viewpoints. Think Steven King or Dean Koontz with regard to many characters telling the whole story. This is not a hero quest layout and often I had trouble finding who to root for. That in itself makes it a very powerful story. I never felt that the story was out of hand or too deep to grasp. I really felt as I was integral in many ways to what was going on the screen.
There are so many different ways to go in this story that it could mean infinite replayability, although I doubt its that much. Even so it could be like 200+ different ways to play it meaning it is a very good value. Just do what you think the characters would do and live with the decisions, or go back and try again.
>> Motion capture is some of the best I have seen, only sometimes seems too stiff (like going up stairs)
>> Interface is easy to use once you get the basics down
>> You can change the difficulty based on how fast you think you can pull off the moves, so it doesn't penalize older players with slower reaction times.
>> A true adult game (mild sex), but with real life issues and themes.
>> Gritty and holds no punches
<< PS3 Slim with plenty of HD space had jerky motion and felt a bit pushed
<< Harkens back to old school movie games with the controls based on timing and buttons (its ok not much of a con but thought I would mention it)
Overall this game will touch you in many ways. It is both wonderful to look at, yet you will find yourself wanting to look away when the bad stuff happens. You become very attached to each character and the smallest decisions you make may change the whole conclusion of the game. Matter of fact there is no guarantee that anyone will solve the case, so, be wise with your choices.
Thank you for reading my review.
on February 24, 2010
Playing Heavy Rain, I couldn't help but think of the original NES Super Mario Bros. (duh-doo-doo duh-doo-DOO!) . . . but not because they have anything whatsoever in common. While a classic, Mario (and most other games to follow) was crystal clear about what being a "video game" meant. You're a cute little character, you jump, squash bad guys, and save the princess. What developer Quantic Dream does here (and with their previous game, Indigo Prophecy) is to venture into new territory for gaming. The result was, to me, pretty exciting.
"Interactive movie" comes close to capturing the essence here. Think a moody drama, a murder mystery, and a psychological thriller rolled in one. Now imagine that you haven't merely watched the characters' story unfold, but you've also controlled them brushing their teeth, fighting off an attacker, and struggling through a life-changing crisis. But you not only control those actions, you also get to CHOOSE some of those actions--and sculpt your own (somewhat) unique version of the story. You're not only watching the movie, you're also playing the lead roles and contributing to the screenplay.
Much of this comes from QTE (Quick Time Events - timed controller responses following onscreen prompts). What's different here is that, in many cases, whether you perform these timed presses "successfully" or not, the game goes on, and adapts accordingly. In fact, much of the time, there isn't a clear definition of "success" in these situations--as some decisions in this game can have unexpected repercussions in the unfolding of the narrative.
They've presented this unique game with some pretty stunning graphics. The character models and animations are so lifelike that I found myself looking up some of the actors on IMDB.
The controls are unconventional, but, in my experience, well-suited. In addition to the QTE, you're often moving around an area, and finding objects to interact with (similar to old-school adventure games). During dialogue with other characters, you'll often be given a choice of several different tactics (i.e., to reason, to threaten, or to flee).
You can shape your own story, within certain limitations (no spoilers). Characters can live or die, and entire scenes can be changed, added, removed, or replaced--all depending on your decisions and the outcomes of quick time events. With that said, many of the changes you can make are subtle, and only certain scenes are going to allow you to greatly alter things. For me, this was understandable: to let every scene drastically affect the rest of the game would have required them to prepare thousands of scenes (we'll just have to wait for that in Heavy Rain III on the PS5).
One, in my opinion, head-scratching oversight by the developers is that they used mostly French actors to do American accents for the characters . . . and it shows. Their dialects often range somewhere between robot and Martian. A tip--reviewer "W. Kong" posted a very clever solution: switch the audio language to French, with English subtitles. If you're open to this, the acting (extremely important in this kind of game) sounded MUCH more natural to me.
Heavy Rain is "not for everyone." It's for mature audiences; not just because it has sex, violence, and profanity, but also because it has "adult content" of a very different kind. These characters live in a harsh world of regret, heartbreak, and love: a love that runs much deeper than rescuing Princess Peach.
If, after reading this, you're still curious about this original gaming experience, you might want to check it out. Your first playthrough just might end up as one of the more thrilling pieces of entertainment you've come across in a while.
on February 24, 2010
I have never written a review on Amazon for any product. Heavy Rain is so good, that I decided to write a review to add to the already glowing reviews here on Amazon.
Describing Heavy rain is like describing an extremely well oiled machine, it starts slowly, revs up speed, and takes you on a ride you will ultimately never ever forget. Heavy Rain is so unconventional, its brilliant. So different, that its original and so much fun, that it's amazing that games haven't gone fully in this direction until now. I was excited when I opened my pre-order packaging and popped Heavy Rain into my PS3, something new, and different, a breath of fresh air to gaming had finally arrived. I love the Uncharted series, Assassins Creed, Dragon Age Origins and Call of duty, I love Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid and Dante's Inferno. But this game, is the first game to have me feel true emotion to the choices I made. I can't explain the feeling you get when you see a choice you made that you thought was right, be the wrong choice and you can't just start over. There are no "Game Overs" or "Continues" in Heavy Rain, the Story is what you make it, and this concept is simply not explainable until you make an incorrect choice, and feel it for yourself. As the story gained even more momentum I found myself making choices that really defined "Me" as a person, not in game, but within myself. Again, a game that makes you think how "You" would react and make the choice based on that, is simply amazing. The graphics in this game are another reason it works so well. Everything seems real, down to the facial animations and set pieces. Voice acting and sound for the most part is good, sometimes things you and others say sound wrong though, and sometimes certain lines sound forced.
The game takes you on a ride, and I haven't completed it yet. I already have a dozen or so things I want to do differently on my next play through. Choices I made that looking back, I shouldn't have chosen the path I did. I noticed I got a ton of trophies for various chapter events, so I decided to look at my trophy list. 27% complete. I was expecting far more. If your a trophy hunter, this game will have you playing each scene in hopes of snagging all the trophies for this game. All that being said, the game has amazing re playability.
Now, let me get something out of the way, this game is not for everyone. The game is a very intellectual game. You have to take it seriously for the game to really "wow" you and make you feel for the characters. If you play it, but don't care, or feel its stupid, or don't pay attention, the game will be extremely boring. The game is not for everyone, and is certainly not for young kids. This is NOT a first person shooter, or third person shooter. There are guns, but everything is not the same as Call of Duty. All event's occur in quick time events, and let me tell the naysayers, this way of game play is so beautifully done here that at times I was standing up screaming at the tv, and at times I would drop my controller at mistakes I made. I even had to take a few breaks from the game as it really started to get to me. Say what you will, but if you really connect with the characters and feel what they feel, the game can shock you at times, and make you feel shell shocked. I even forgot I was doing the QTE sometimes, as it all just flowed perfectly.
The game is simply amazing, but it is not without some faults. The controls work, especially QTE, but to me walking isn't as horrible as some say, it is simply annoying. Sometimes the camera will switch at bad times, and your character will quickly turn around when you didn't want them to. This especially happens during scenes of urgency. Also, my system has frozen 3 times during game play. This isn't a deal breaker, but it does break the emotional spell the game has, and is bad for pacing when you have to reboot your ps3, etc, etc. The QTEs can also become a bit overwhelming with way to many buttons to hold down at certain times, and I understand this, as it is supposed to overwhelm you, so I don't see this as an annoyance. The beginning is also very slow, but I suppose this is fine since it's kind of a tutorial. However, don't let the tutorial sway you into thinking the whole game is like it, because it isn't the game REALLY picks up, and it's a crazy roller coaster, where you decide the story outcomes.
- Amazing Story, grabs you emotionally and sucks you in. From what I hear characters can die as well, which adds a sense of urgency to each event. (I haven't experienced it though)
- Quick Time Events are extremely well done and feel perfect.
- Graphically stunning, the best I have ever seen to date.
- The soundtrack and voice acting is superb.
- Re playability extremely high due to the amount of trophies, and choices in almost every chapter you complete. Everything can be completed in a different way for multiple play throughs.
- Downloadable content on the way, meaning even more awesome chapters to play, and possibly more trophies to collect.
- Not a bad length, the game from what I hear is near 10 hours long which is admirable, and will last most people awhile, especially with different play throughs.
- Walking can look silly at times, and can be an annoyance especially when the scene requires precise movements.
- Beginning can be slow, and may deter some people. Keep at it, the game opens up at about the 2nd hour of playtime, and when it gets going, it doesn't let up.
- Occasional system freezing, and sometimes I see texture popping and screen tearing. To me this doesn't matter much, the game auto saves frequently.
- Some voice actors don't always deliver their lines correctly during some scenes.
Rent or Buy?
I would say a solid Buy, however be warned, this game is not like anything you have ever played before. You have to understand that going in, it is not a Call of Duty style game. It is not instant gratification, you don't kill someone and they respawn later in the level. If you kill someone, they are gone, and that's it, you live with the consequences and the game goes on, with or without them. You have to take the game seriously to fully feel everything the characters feel, and to really get into the game. You have to weigh choices against other choices, and sometimes what you think is right isn't. It's a phenomenal gaming experience that I think everyone should experience, however it's not for children. This game truly is a Mature adult game. Not because it has pointless bloodshed, but because everything that happens in this game has an adult theme that could potentially scar younger players if they really get into it. This is a solid game, with a few flaws, but YES, get it, and enjoy it. Its well worth it.
I will update this review for DLC, as well as if anything changes later on. But right now, I can't give this game enough props. It's great.
on March 1, 2010
I hoped to like this game, and it seemed like I really should have. I love slow building suspense that focus on character development and atmosphere, and I like a good story. In fact, I will forgive minor plot holes and other faults along the way so long as I enjoy the experience. Also, PS3 exclusives and I have a good history together.
But I didn't like it. The game does some things very well; in fact, I think some of the criticisms are unfair. I even enjoyed some elements I didn't think I would. But as a whole, it was disappointing. So what went wrong?
SHORT VERSION: I thought the gameplay was fine, except for small character movement issues in certain parts. The QTEs were implemented pretty well, with some minor issues (see below). The aesthetics are excellent - graphics, detail, sound, music. It is a beautiful game with a good atmosphere.
But the writing is poor, most of the acting is poor (with some exceptions), and cheap plot devices abound.
First, the GOOD (NO SPOILERS):
(1) It is a beautiful game. And not just pretty pictures, but as an aesthetic whole; the images, the music, sounds, etc. create a great atmosphere.
(2) The quick time events (QTEs) are implemented well, which I actually didn't expect. There are some cheap QTE moments, though. For example, sometimes you don't know how to hold the controller because you don't know what you have to do next.
Typical of QTEs, they can take away from the scene because you're focused on what buttons you have to push, rather than the action. In part because the game is so beautiful, you don't know when you will be prompted for a QTE, which can add to the problem. But these issues are minor and QTEs are implemented very well overall.
(3) Great pacing. The chapters are broken into manageable bits, and it rarely seemed to drag.
(4) The game creates great suspense. I think the game is unfairly criticized because there are certain elements you cannot change even if you fail at the QTE. But because you don't know what elements they are, there are some really intense moments. I thought this was a great way of creating suspense.
If you get this game: DO NOT use a walkthrough the first time, you don't want to know what the potential consequences are or are not. Also, know that the game is being truthful in that you CAN allow major characters to die at certain points. (This isn't a spoiler, you will enjoy the game more if you know that).
NOW FOR THE BAD (NO SPOILERS):
Many of these criticisms relate to poor writing. And in a game like this, if anything is done well, it MUST be the writing. Some will argue with my criticism of the plot. The bottom line is that the writers resorted to cheap plot devices in an attempt to create suspense, mystery, and surprise.
(1) Cheap plot devices. I understand writers sometimes have to resort to less desireable plot devices. But here they are used unecessarily. For example, (NO SPOILER) in one scene a random character just happens to show up and happens to have specific important information about the past. In the scene's context, this is SO unlikely that it is unintentionally humorous. Even worse, a simple trip to the library (or a search engine) would have filled in the information just as easily, and it could have been worked into the story. But I guess the writers wanted to be more dramatic (and stereotypical). They tried too hard.
(2) Mediocre voice acting. Some of the actors are quite good ("Scott" in particular), but most of it is terrible. Poor acting hurts any game but can be devastating to games that are interactive fiction. Bad voice acting used to be rampant in video games ("All your base are belong to us"), but nowadays it just won't cut it. For example, Uncharted, Dragon Age, Fallout 3, Call of Duty, etc., have good or great voice acting.
This may not be entirely the actors' fault; some of the dialogue is distractingly bad. For example, the police say things a real cop would never say--nor would any cop on Law & Order or The Wire, or any other decent "cop show" of the last 20 years. And hearing some if it makes you cringe. The point is, the writers should've known better.
(3) Lies (CAUTION - potential SPOILER, but not quite). I will try to avoid any spoilers. The game lies to you. It shows you certain things to "throw you off" and then re-writes history, sometimes via flashbacks. You are left saying to yourself "I was there--that didn't happen." Writers shouldn't lie to their audience, even if they're trying to keep that audience guessing. I would rather figure out the plot before the end--it really isn't such a bad thing. Some will argue that the writers simply "bent" the rules here, but the bottom line is that you will feel cheated.
(4) Plot holes. Yep, I said it. Some people say these will be addressed in some DLC or prequel, but any such back-filling will be strained at best.
CONCLUSION: Rent or buy used. There are some enjoyable aspects of the game, but it is ultimately disappointing. You may enjoy the game for a few hours before becoming increasingly frustrated.
ADDENDUM: A few additions: (1) I appreciate that a game like this was made and I really hope more like it are developed (interactive fiction). I just hope they have better execution and better writing, or the genre won't last long. (2) I may have come across a little harsh on the voice acting. It isn't fair to say that it is "terrible." I really should have said a little "wooden" in some parts, and that only a few scenes that are bad enough to be distracting.
on June 27, 2010
ok i'm a fifteen year old girl who first saw this game by watching my older brother play it. i thought the game was absolutely amazing and i wanted more after i watched it. i felt so close to the characters that i felt their pain and other feelings. well a few days after i watched it, i had a sleepover with all my friends. now these are all girls that just think about boys, sports, and makeup. none of them are even interested in video games. earlier in the week i told them about the game and they seemed kind of interested in it. so i showed them the trailer and they wanted to see me play it so i started the game with all of them cramped in my brother's room they immediately got sucked into the game. we pulled an all nighter and played the entire game in one night. 10:30 pm to 6:00 am. all of them stayed up for at least half the game but 6 of the nine people actually stayed up for the entire thing. the other 3 fell asleep just because they were tired. my friends would jump at scary parts and they all felt they were watching a movie. they would guess who the killer was and explain why they thought so. (none of them got it right) they all were so absorbed into the game. they all agreed ethan mars was their favorite character. mine is ethan and norman jayden.
they told me in the morning that they thought the game would be boring but they absolutely LOVED IT!! they said it didn't even feel like a video game!! if this game can entertain a bunch of teenage girls for a WHOLE night it has to be a great game. THANK YOU QUANTIC DREAM FOR MAKING SUCH A GREAT GAME!!
P.S. they all thought it was funny how the characters looked exactly like the voice actors. constantly during the game they said that this would make an amazing movie and i agree. but i dont know how they can make a movie out of a video game that has like 18 endings!
on April 3, 2010
I just had to throw in my two cents after seeing how petty some of the negative opinions of Heavy Rain on this website are.
Heavy Rain is not a game for instant-gratification adrenaline junkies. Or in other words if all you really want is excessive, over the top violence and/or gratuitous sexual content then Heavy Rain is not the game for you.
But on the other hand if you would like something serious and mature then the chances are Heavy Rain will deliver.
I found Heavy Rain to be a very emotionally engaging experience. Possibly more so than any other video game I've ever played. While there is some sexual content in the game it's not there for it's own sake. It's there because it has relevance with regard to the story, atmosphere, or overall premise of the game. And I've also found the "plot holes" accusations that have been leveled at the game by some to be largely unfounded. It may be true that the game doesn't hand you every single detail on a silver platter, but such absent details by no means constitute "plot holes".
I don't think it's necessary for me to describe the game in detail because there is evidently a sizable number of other people that have already done that.
So yes, the game is admittedly not for everyone. But nevertheless it's a noteworthy and commendable achievement. And it's also an important one in light of the fact that it belongs to a medium (video games) that is often dominated by mindless entertainment and diversion. It's a reminder how much potential the medium has.
So I am giving this game five stars partially because I genuinely like the game and partially to balance out the petty cheap shots that it doesn't deserve.
The premise of this game is awesome...an "adult" (by that, I mean mature, non-cartoony subject matter) game that explores themes of grief, loss, death, psychological pain, crime, mystery, etc. And it's very well executed. Great storytelling. But I just had a hard time getting into it. I kept coming back to it, because so many people just raved and gushed about how great the game is. But I just kept finding myself being bored. Even as I considered how impressive the premise, technology, and execution were, I just found myself bored and wanting to play something else. So I eventually gave up on it. I really, really wanted to like this game...partially because the idea of it really appeals to me, and partially because it got such rave reviews from outlets that I really respect. But I just couldn't, no matter what I tried. I can appreciate how well done it is, and I can see why so many people love this game. I guess it's just not for me.
on February 24, 2010
Playing this game is like playing through a movie. It's the coolest concept I've seen in video games in a long time. I bought this game because I'm quite sick of playing games where you just seem to blast your way to the end. This game is very fun. Way different than anything you've probably played before. The replay value is very high too. You can play through it again making different decisions about everything. I highly recommend this game who wants to have a sweet experience with their video games. The graphics are the best I've seen yet. Especially the faces of the characters.
Quantic Dream enters the ps3 game market with Heavy Rain. Being only their third game produced since their inception in 1997. Even though this is not a new genre, it has evolved considerably. It's really nice to see game developers taking more risks and branching out from FPS games.
-Multi dimensional story with solid characters and a twist
-Stunning graphics and motion capture
-Real consequences from choices i.e. people die permanently
-Multiple ending sequences
-Voice acting in most cases is excellent
-Not really a gamer's type of game
-Replay value is only ok despite story choices (I'll explain this)
-No true extras or secrets in the game
Graphics 9 of 10
Once in a very long while a game comes along that bucks the trend and I don't mean just takes what others have done and overhaul it; I mean a whole new genre is created. Heavy Rain is reminds me of some of the games back on the Sega Saturn where motion capture was just first being explored. In reality it was just video meshed with the game graphics to produce more realistic stories. However, Heavy Rain takes it much further than that. The power of the PS3 is really showcased in this game. Movement and animation is masterfully done and realistic beyond anything I've ever seen. And it appears that the developers literally did motion capture of the face muscles so you could tell not only what the characters were saying but how they felt about it as well. The detail on the faces shows as close to photo-realism as I've seen in a video game. The people also look believable as real people. There are overweight people in the game as well as average looking men and women.
Mechanics and Gameplay 7 of 10
To understand this game you have to think of it as an interactive movie. The majority of the time you'll be pressing and holding a few buttons all at once or even shaking the controller. Walking is kind of awkward and not really intuitive. You hold the R2 button and then "direct" your character with the analog stick as opposed to other games where you just walk with the stick. Most of the other mechanics are basically just pre-recorded so there isn't really any precedent.
Now, I have to give a disclaimer to those who aren't into games with deep storylines or don't consider themselves patient. It is not really what you'd call a real video game. There is dying, but the characters don't come back to life. There is very little shooting and it's not skill based; it's time based. So from a pure gamer's standpoint the game is going to be disappointing to say the least. But from a technical and plot view it is really an impressive game. For me personally, it's the opposite of my usual ideal open world game. But I feel like it was so well produced that it deserves acclaim.
The reason why the gameplay is lower is because in terms of gaming it holds a lower value. It's not to say that overall the game isn't good or even great. It just doesn't offer very much true skill based parts other than button mashing and the occasional need for quick reflexes. Aside from that, I don't see how there could be a physics program used or needed considering all the movements are pre-programmed or recorded into the game. You have just take into account this is super heavily based on the story and the gaming part is kind of just in addition to it.
Voice Acting and Music 9 of 10
The people cast for this game really had to fit the character for the game to have that wow factor and it is easy to see in the intonation the voice actors. They make you feel for their characters as opposed to just hearing the words. Even the child voice acting was really great. And the musical score felt very suited to the game. It really resembled a thriller or murder mystery movie.
Story 10 of 10
The story in Heavy Rain centers around an architect (Ethan Mars) with a wonderful life who loses his oldest son in a car accident. And the characters show a human quality rarely seen in a game. Ethan's wife divorces him after the accident and you can see the toll everything has taken on him as well as his other son. The other main players are Scott Shelby - private investigator, Norman Jayden - FBI agent and Madison Paige - a friend of Ethan's (her occupation is told later on in the game). And the basis for the plot is the Origami Killer, who kidnaps children and drowns them and leaves an origami figure in the child's hand. It is a really well put together story, with vibrant characters and a really impressive final twist. For obvious reasons this is the most detailed and clearly thought out part of the game.
Replay Value and Extras 6 of 10
My only serious complaint with the game is this: replay is appealing for only one reason - to change the final outcome. Despite the ability to affect each chapter, you can't really make the investigation go faster or slower and you can't really even solve the crime differently. It's this that keeps the game from being stellar. For example, Jayden solves the crime via his ARI device, but you literally can't advance to the next chapter without finding the specific things you were "supposed" to find in the evidence. In fact, after I'd seen a few different types of endings I didn't want to touch the game again. Once you've played all the endings you likely won't want to play ever again because you know the twist. Also, you can't make your own saves.
There is no reason to go searching around in your environment for anything but murder clues. There are not any collectables. So if you're not playing as Jayden, most of the actions have no direct effect on the story and are superfluous. If I want to go and wash my hands for fun; I'll do the real thing. At least I'll get rid of some germs. The actual extras involve some "making of" and concept sketches but are hardly worth looking at and you have to earn these.
I can't recommend this game to just anyone. And the problem is that even though it's really well executed, it has a fairly small niche. People that own a ps3 would probably profess to be seasoned or even extreme gamers, which means they likely appreciate games for their pushing of boundaries. So, for example it isn't likely that a person who enjoys the Uncharted series would be interested in Heavy Rain. I'd put this game closer to the casual category, more for people who play for like an hour at a time - max. So this is a rental game in my opinion. And even though I appreciate it for what it does well, it's not something I'd play all the way through ever again.
on June 20, 2010
- Button Sequences
I'm normally a huge lover of alternative games, from Fatal Frame to Fallout. I thought I would love the interactive crime-solving aspect of this game.
Looking back now, however, I'm a bit horrified now at all the reviews I read proclaiming this to be the "future" of gaming. I certainly hope not. Perhaps I suffer from dashed expectations, or maybe it's because I just played Dragon Age - a game that delivers on the open-endedness and interactivity that Heavy Rain promises and fails at.
Heavy Rain tries to bill itself as "interactive drama," but I don't think it's the kind of interactive drama most gamers are looking for. I thought I would get a chance to solve crimes for myself - choose what to look at, where to go, who to question, that there would be multiple ways to solve problems. Instead, this is an extremely linear game, and 90% of the choices you make and buttons you press lead to the exact same outcome. I don't want to play a game that gives me the choices of "Persuasive" "Aggressive" and "Sympathetic" when trying to convince a character not to join me - I want the choice of whether or not she joins at all! I don't want the choice of pushing my child on the swingset, the merry-go-round, or the the seesaw - I want the choice of whether to make him love me or reject me. Games have progressed to the point where the latter choices are more and more common - see Bioware's games for proof. I expected actual freedom in my choices, instead of a choice of one or two scripted paths.
But there are multiple, radically different endings, you say! And main characters can DIE! All based on your actions! While this is true, they can only die at very specific plot points, and the same for the endings. Ninety to ninety-nine percent of your actions have no effect on anything at all, making the player feel like a needless extra. Many of compared it to a click-through movie, which wouldn't be such a bad thing necessarily, except that most movies have good dialogue and interesting characters. By the time I was two hours into the game I was already rereading the guide "I can kill of main characters? When? WHEN? Soon? Please?" Ethan is a mopey, whiny and annoyingly incompetent. Shelby is likable but, for most of the game, seems to just be replicating the work of other characters and chasing completely irrelevant leads. The FBI agent is fun and offers the most of what I expected from the game - finding clues and beating down doors - but he can also be a bit of a wimp, and like all the characters, his lack of character development or any kind of background makes it hard to identify or truly like him. Madison, the only main female character, offers a lovely throw-back to the days when female videogame characters were only good for taking improptu naked showers, vainly trying to fight off attackers in their underwear, and offering strangers stripteases. Actually, I am pretty sure that IS all she does. And sleep with the main character, of course. It offers a nice complement to the other female characters, who are all either hookers, mothers, or some combination of both. Ahh, the future of gaming indeed.
The button sequences could be very cool - and at certain points, they are (most notably during the climax). Unfortunately, however, the creators of the game seemed to feel the need to apply the button sequences everywhere. The first couple hours in particular feel dominated by menial tasks. Nothing feel worse than not being able to see the next cutscene in the sequence because you can't do the ludicrously complicated button combination to change a baby's diaper. Or cook an omlette. Or get your wallet out. And when this is all you do for hours on end, it quickly becomes grating. I play video games so I can jump through fires and pick locks and fight serial killers, not repeatedly do things that a much more fun in real life. All of the things I just named do eventually happen in the game, but not nearly enough, and when they do happen it often still feels as if your actions are meaningless. Because the cutscene needs to continue as scripted - and because they can't make you redo every failed action, nor kill you for each and every action button - you'll still dodge sometimes when you miss a button, or fall when you hit one, which only reinforces the sense that the action is beyond your control.
It's certainly not all bad, however. The plot is good once it gets going, and the climax and epilogues are excellent. The concept itself is a good one - it just falls short in the execution. I know from the reviews that many people loved this game, but I think they were in love with its uniqueness and not the gameplay itself. While well-intentioned, because you have little actual control over both the overall plot and the scenes (except for the endings), the game can offer little that a good movie cannot. For a movie that does the same thing, see Silence of the Lambs; for a game that offers truly dynamic choices, try Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Heavy Rain tries to combine both, but the gaming industry will have to do better to reach the next level of interactive story-telling.