Its Thursday the 25th of February 2010. This will be an important date in the Digital world. I just finished Heavy Rain. My finishing the ‘game’ is hardly the reason for my excitement, Heavy Rain, and the implications it has for interactive entertainment from here on out is ground breaking. This is the first time since I hosted ‘Underground’ on TV that I have been excited to review a video game. Due to the nature of the game this review will not contain spoilers. Instead, I shall make flippant remarks to satiate the need to be passive aggressive.
Background on Heavy Rain.
Quantic Dream developed Heavy Rain exclusively for the PS3, it’s directed by David Cage who is also the CEO of Quantic Dream. At the time of writing I still cannot assign a genre to this game. It’s really not a game, yeah it’s on the PS3 which is a game console, but the PS3 also plays Blue-ray movies, and Heavy Rain is on Blue-ray Disc and doesn’t even flinch in the face of Hollywood Cinematography. Heavy Rain is a fully rendered interactive experience which has you in direct control of the outcome. It’s a movie that you interact with, often because you have an emotional investment in the characters and because everything about the interactions does not distract you from the immersive story. Those who shy easily should know that this game contains remarkably well rendered boobies and butts but thats about it. Its rated 15.
There is a serial killer on the loose called the Origami Killer. You alternately play one of 4 characters as their personal stories unfold with your input and interaction. Sometimes you play them individually but there are some overlapping story-lines that enable a slick transition from one character straight into another, with you controlling their immediate decisions, emotions, and objectives every step of the way.
Main Characters in no particular order:
Ethan Mars looks a young Alec Baldwin and Daniel Craig had a baby. Ethan is an architect who’s son was killed in an accident that left him in a coma. Years later, separated from his wife, Ethan suspects that his surviving son may be the Origami Killers next victim. It is up to you to confront Ethan’s demons and to decide how far you are willing to go to rescue your son.
Madison Paige looks like Jacqui Ainsley that British model. The reason for this is most likely that Jacqui Ainsley provided the face, body and voice of Madison Paige. A single, twenty-something journalist who lives alone in the city. As noted before, Madison Paige is incredibly hot. It is up to you to do what journalists do best, to get to the bottom of the Origami Murders. However this will prove challenging. If only because the graphics of Heavy Rain are fantastic, it took me about 45 minutes to stop staring at myself as Madison in the bathroom mirror and taking repeated showers unnecessarily.
Norman Jayden: Looks like Christian Slater and Fox Mulder had a baby. Jayden is a dedicated and thorough FBI profiler sent into this unfamiliar city to support the police force with their investigation into the Origami Murders. Jayden has an “Added Reality Interface,” which allows him to investigate crime scenes and analyse evidence with incredible awesomeness. Douche.
Scott Shelby: If Madison Paige is life-haltingly hot then this old timer is the antidote. Has no good lookalike but think Norm from Cheers and possibly George Clooney had a baby but I am unsure. Shelby is an old school private investigator after being a local cop for twenty years. Shelby conducts a parallel investigation into the Origami Killer case, searching for clues and leads that douchebag Jayden and his magical glove may have missed.
Heavy Rain uses the PS3 controller to its fullest extent, there are contextual buttons for actions, intuitive six-axis control such as shaking and striking, steering and stroking, right analogue stick movements for tactile tasks like opening door handles or latches etc… There is some clunkiness with the use of combination button presses that require incredibly flexible fingers with multiple buttons being held down. Under duress the later proves to be tad frustrating but this can be remedied by choosing a lower PS3 Controller familiarity setting. Yes, this game knows that people will be buying PS3′s on the strength of this title alone and wants to make the game controls as accessible as possible. Fucking genius.
There is enough of a tutorial in the beginning of the game for you to become more than comfortable with the nuances of the control mechanism and because the system has been well thought out, you should become increasingly familiar with the controls to the point where they do not infringe on the interactive experience.
I made it clear this review is not going to have spoilers. This is as far as I can go without getting specific about certain amazing aspects of the game, its longevity, replay-ability and sheer attention to detail. The specific reference characters make to your unique decision without a canned footage feeling. The music, the sound effects. Dammit the tears.
At one point in the game you get so attached to the characters and their families that you begin to experience strong emotions, protective instincts that tap into your real world fears and your subconscious. As I was playing Heavy Rain my daughter came into my room and asked if I would read her a book. I had to tell her that I was busy. I was busy reading a book to my Heavy Rain children. That’s how fucking awesome this game is.