Attention Xbox 360 Owners!
Is this one title that would have made all 360 owners wet?
by Shadow Wave.
©2010 Ben Cadwallader
Heavy Rain is Quantic Dream’s latest idea of turning an A Grade movie styled experience into an interactive, chair gripping adventure. While this is not a direct sequel to their 2005 cult classic Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain further develops, refines and reinvents the game play formula building on Fahrenheit for the better.
Due the strong story in Heavy Rain this review will be as spoiler free as possible. To put the story summary into one sentence would be: To find and stop the Origami Serial Killer. There you go, that’s more spoiler free than the back of the box.
• Heavy Rain – Suspenseful – Intense – Intriguing.
• NB: Heavy Rain “Glitch vid” at end of ‘review’
The game’s story centres around 4 main characters that all generally get alternated as playable characters with each chapter in the game. The brilliance of doing this is it keeps you viewing the story from many different perspectives just as you often would in the movies. And in the later portions of the game, it really does increase the tension when you know your characters are about to walk into something that you already know about.
• Ethan Mars • Madison Page • Norman Jayden • Scott Shelby
Unlike Fahrenheit’s amazing introductory sequence, Heavy Rain starts off slow; actually awfully slow. The first hour or two of the game is there to just spend time learning the unique control scheme and developing relationships between characters (although these relationships are fairly obvious).
Yep, you will spend time completing quick time events to make coffee, shave, drink beer, and many other mundane tasks. There’s only so much excitement these mundane tasks can bring even when pressing buttons! And it does get quite frustrating for a beginning of a game, especially while you are still deciding if you like the game.
It’s safe to say though, that once the lengthy intro is over, the plot lines start to become much clearer and interesting. So my message is to have faith. The game picks up and becomes something truly memorable. Like a movie with a slow beginning that often ends up being among the most memorable movies of all, Heavy Rain builds to become special.
It’s also worth mentioning that this story does not become anywhere near as insanely ridiculous as Fahrenheit’s story.
One giant quick time event?
Essentially the only time you won’t be performing a quick time event is when you’re walking across a room to your next quick time event. Heavy Rain tries to utilise the PS3 controller to emulate human movements as best it can, with a joystick, buttons or the sixaxis motion control.
• “The Shower Scene & Madison combating villains.
But Heavy Rain does something no other quick time event game has done before: failure is not an option, because no matter what you do, you cannot fail. Some of the more small tasks such as cooking etc. may require you to repeat a very small sequence but you will never see a game over screen. If you’re in a fight scene and miss a few buttons you might trip over and fall, but you’ll get back up and keep on going or maybe the assailant gets away when you’re on the floor. It’s all about consequences.
• Many thanks to Sony Entertainment PS3 Aust for the high rez images
One small peeve is that occasionally when your character is under stress the button prompts will appear to shake and therefore be much harder to see, making some of the subtle indicators of how you are supposed to press the button (tap or hold or mash) much harder to distinguish leading to some errors that could have been avoided easily enough.
But either way, the choice/moral system is where the beauty of Heavy Rain lies. It’s a surreal moment when you know you completely fail a sequence, you start mashing the X button while you wait for the game over screen to arise but nothing happens, and the game just keeps playing and the next chapter appears on the screen. Everything you do is recorded, and affects the game.
Did I mention how awesome the action sequences were? The fact you cannot fail makes these sequences so completely fun to play. They are choreographed really well and play out just as you would see in the movies, although occasionally a little more over the top!
Outside of quick time moments, dialogue is handled a bit differently. Dialogue plays out very similar to the Mass Effect 2 dialogue wheel, different responses are assigned to the four face buttons, with each selection relating to a different emotion or action. And it works fairly well – nice and simple.
And outside of talking and quick time events, you get to walk! Walking is handled quite awkwardly and it will take awhile to get used to. Hold R2 to walk in whatever direction the character is facing, and tap a direction on the joystick to get them to turn. It’s not the most graceful movement system in the world; you will get stuck on objects, walk into walls etc.. Still, considering you only move at walking speed in small areas it’s not the worst thing in the world.
The presentation of Heavy Rain is not exactly as good as it was hyped up to be over the last year or two. Most character models look great, and animate well. However, there are a few animations that just don’t work very well: a notable one is a kissing scene that sees characters usually kissing the air in front of the other person’s face. These are all fairly forgivable of course, and don’t really detract from the main story at all.
The actual ‘rain’ looks great as it runs down characters’ faces but doesn’t translate as well onto clothing. There are not really any noticeable changes to characters’ clothing during the transition from outdoors (raining) to indoor areas. I wouldn’t normally nitpick on this stuff, but considering the game is called Heavy Rain I thought it was worth mentioning.
Some environments look great, others look very average. Through your travels you will come across quite a lot of low resolution textures, hard to read-pixely writing and a few other graphical errors such as pop in and screen tearing.
Music is nice and subtle only coming to play usually at important moments in the game and really does enhance the atmosphere of what is occurring within the game. Oddly though on occasions the music will crackle for some reason.
Voice acting on the other hand, is good but there are some issues. It’s not that there was bad voice acting in the game; it was more that occasionally whatever the main characters said just didn’t sound right. It is hard to put it any other way. Once again it’s quite a forgivable flaw.
The game’s length comes in at about 8 hours for my first play through, although it’s worth mentioning that this game boasts 22 different endings, let alone all the differences that can occur during each chapter of the game. This is a game made for replaying multiple times.
The game has a familiar feeling to the age-old point and click adventure genre of gaming, and I found it to be a very enthralling and engaging experience. What makes Heavy Rain magical is the simple fact that whatever choices you make, the game will just continue on. What this does is make you truly feel like your choices matter.
So, if you haven’t been to the movies recently but feel like a good entertaining ride with a lot more user input pick this game up right now. Heavy Rain sets the bar for the moral/choice system and I hope this game proves to be an inspirational to other developers to think outside the box and try something fresh and new.
• Oh, there are “glitches” – this one’s doing the rounds now.
If you are a 360 console owner, I’m sorry but this is one game that you should be very jealous about.