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PS3 REVIEW – Heavy Rain

Posted March 24th 2010 by Adam Grayson.

Heavy Rain

It's Saturday, 11:22 AM. You slowly wake up to the morning sun in your designer bed in your stylized and beautiful bedroom. Do you get out of bed and start your morning, or do you decide to lie there for a few more minutes? This small, seemingly meaningless decision is completely up to you, the player. Welcome, player, to Heavy Rain.

The game's first camera shots exemplify its experimental use of camera angles and multiple frames.

Wake up, Ethan! Or don't... It's your choice, really...

Before I really get into describing the game, please know this. The game whole-heartedly embraces not playing as a form of gameplay. Don't worry, you read that right. There are many places in the game where you can sit your character in a chair, lean on a wall, lie on a bed, or just stop moving and rest as the camera switches between different views, showing off the environment while masterfully recorded ambient noise is heard. Just as you could with the game's very first action, in which you are able to leave your character in bed for as long as you like – you can wait for five seconds, or for five hours – there is no limit. The reason I mention this is to point out that there are many, many things in the game that most people will never experience. This is a real shame, as a lot of these things only serve to enhance the experience; things like highly detailed models, lush environments, impressive sounds/sound effects, and easily missed components of story. On top of that, it's sad to think about the huge number of minute details the developers put into the game that will go unseen by so many people. So please, take your time, explore, relax, and enjoy the game to its fullest.

As you wait on that rail, the game shows off its scenery.

The game rotates through different camera angles.

Heavy Rain is played mainly through a series of quicktime events and onscreen prompts. Interactions between characters/objects are handled through different control stick motions or button presses. Talking to a person is usually a simple click of the X button, but things like opening closet doors are usually done by pressing up on the control stick followed by a downward quarter circle. These are all simple interactions, but something like cleaning a wound has you rotating the stick, pressing or holding different buttons, and many times a combination of these things. Aside from these more basic prompts, there are timed action sequences, played through a series of quicktime events, where the player must quickly press/hold buttons, move the controller around (the game makes great use of the Sixaxis motion controls), and/or move the control stick in different directions. However, for those that see this game as just hours of boring quicktime events, I encourage you to keep reading, because, in short, you are wrong.

Controller prompts are cleverly integrated into the scene.

Up and quarter circle right to open the closet.

Heavy Rain follows the story of four main characters: Ethan Mars, the main protagonist; Scott Shelby, a private investigator; Norman Jayden, an FBI agent; and Madison Paige, an investigative journalist. At the beginning of the game, none of these players have ever met each other, yet by the end of the game, their paths are so intermingled that it's possible to forget which character you're currently playing. The game follows these characters as they find themselves wrapped up in the investigations of the Origami Killer, a serial killer who kidnaps young victims and then allows them to drown over a number of days. The story follows these characters as they try to find the Killer before the latest victim, Ethan's youngest son, is found dead.

Agent Norman Jayden investigating with the aid of his ARI glasses.

Private Investigator Scott Shelby questioning Lauren Winter.

I could very easily write paragraphs upon paragraphs regarding the story (especially considering that game's script is over 2,000 pages long!), but I feel that would do injustice to both the game and to you, the player. Heavy Rain cannot be experienced by reading or even watching; its true destiny is to be played. In order to fully enjoy it, you must truly pay attention to what is happening onscreen. Unlike other games, Heavy Rain is much less forgiving for mistakes. This, however, is something I don't think many people will have trouble with, as it is incredibly engrossing. Regardless, do yourself a favor and try to play in a noise and distraction-free environment. Not only are you likely to miss quicktime events and key points in dialogue, but you will also miss out on the incredibly well suited, live orchestrated music and amazing sound effects.

The question I hear everywhere about Heavy Rain is, "Is this really a game?" The short answer is, "Compared to this, is anything else a game?" What I mean by that is that Heavy Rain highlights certain paradigms that make games games. Things like player-decision-based story, immersive controls, and very radical consequences are great examples of said paradigms. I will repeat this many times throughout the review: the story of Heavy Rain could not be told in any other way than through a video game. It presents itself as an interactive psychological thriller/dramatic narrative, and that's exactly what it is (the focus on "interactive"). The choices you, the player, make directly affect what happens in the game.

Continued on page 2 

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Tags: heavy rain

Posted in: Reviews, Gaming

Comments (3) | Permalink | Digg | Reddit

User Comments

Batist

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Great review. I loved the game it was really awesome.

Wednesday, March 24th 2010

Wesker

I dig this. I also dug the game.

Wednesday, March 24th 2010

Shadow85

Amazing game. My early contender for GOTY.

Thursday, March 25th 2010

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