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Heavy Rain
0 CommentsPosted by Justin Jones on 05/03/2010 at 9:58 pm Heavy Rain
Pros
Very impressive emotional content where you truly care for characters, well designed QTEs when done well, very original.
Cons
Its essentially a fancy point and click in the same class as the Broken Sword series but with bigger plot holes and no way out of the consequences of badly timed QTEs
The Verdict
Starts out with a lot of promise and progresses wonderfully though until just before the end where it falls over itself somewhat from plot holes unless you can get the right result.

Everybody loves a good “Whodunnit?” and Heavy Rain is a classic example of the genre, the question is: who is the Origami Killer? That will be answered in the next few tense, dramatic and twisty hours when you play Heavy Rain, the game created by Quantic Dreams – the same designers as the similarly styled Fahrenheit game.

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Essentially Heavy Rain is a rather fancy point and click game like the Broken Sword series on the PSX but with much more immersive control features and very impressive emotional content that really pulls at the old heart strings. Heavy Rain is also a strong Mature game  because of violence and strong language but also because of the very realistic nudity and interactive love scene. It’s all artsy fartsy done and according to the developers its critical to the story…I dunno I just felt a tad voyeuristic.

Luckily the story is strong enough, for the most part, for the game to be more than a series of titillating set scenes with quick time events. Moreover the plot is wonderfully inticate with multiple layers as you play four different characters all intertwined around the Origami serial killer. It is a mature game and would probably not be a best fit for the avid Halo or Modern Warfare gamer because its not a quick instant game with’ instant coffee’ kills.

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Heavy Rain is compelling and eminently playable because of two aspects of the gameplay. One; that the story is incredibly emotional. It is a sincere and tender but tragic story with characters you actually like and care about and fret over. It is also a cruel game because you can if you are not quick enough or make an error with the QTE’s do severe harm to any of your playable characters and/or the characters around you. Some errors can be fatal which inextricably changes the story.

Secondly the QTE’s are expertly designed and crafted, the best I’ve ever seen in the video game. Sure changing a nappy using a quick time event sounds tedious and it is but its also intricate. But other QTE’s especially the hand to hand combat scenes are brilliant. The rely on quick reflexes and the flow of required button pressing actions is wonderfully organic and feels natural if you keep the default button map of course.

But if you mess the QTE’s up there can be sometimes no replay option and this really really effects the story and to be frank I found it was never in a good way for the plot, gameplay or enjoyment of the game. It’s a serious issue, not flaw, that can shorten the game. I found that once I completed a scene I had the option of going back to try and get the result I wanted but the fact I had to do that was a tad disappointing. I understand the designers made it to be used as a differing plot device and for replayability’s sake but the consequences for stuffing up just seemed to immense.

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The playable characters a private detective, a desolute father, a female reporter and a FBI agent are all fun to play and are all reasonably believeable and have their own unique traits, skills and stories. My favourite and the one that seemed so well acted was the private detective. A classic noir Humphrey Bogart type character. The least favourite was probably the FBI agent he had some gadgets that were very high tech and felt a little out of place in the story setting and he was also a bit wimpy. The father is played tragically and pasionately well while the reporter is a wee bit mysterious.

And in reference to the mysterious, I come to the end of the game itself. It is an amazingly tight production that for 3/4’s of the game is an absolute winner. But as the game comes to it’s twisty conclusion the results of your choices good or bad, QTE’s successful or not really impact the game and that is where plot holes start to emerge and critical nuances and twists in the story just mysteriously and suddenly appear. It feels frightfully disjointed and unless you play through the chapters again to get the result you want it ultimately leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

Heavy Rain is an attempt to do something different and for huge portions of the game it succeeds way beyond its scope but somewhere along the way the game loses it’s way and it’s focus and unless you replay through the chapters the endings can be very morose and very unsatisfactory. Not that everything has to have a happy ending but in this instance the endings good or bad are a symptom of the issues of gameplay in the last third of the game. I still say it’s worth a play through if just for the original concept and the bravery it took to make an upmarket point and click game.

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And if you think I am being overly critical of the game, you have a point I admit, but the critique is a result of how I feel about the characters and how much of a connection they made with me. I have never felt such a deep affinity to any game character as much as I do with these guys so I desperately wanted this game to succeed and I suppose if you look at it from that perspective the did amazingly well. Let me end by saying this Heavy Rain is flawed but genius.

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