Posted on: May 3rd, 2010 GAME REVIEW: Heavy Rain (PS3)
Another in my series of Ebert bashing reviews. The man claims that video games can not be considered art. He’s obviously never seen Heavy Rain.
Without a doubt, one of the greatest video game experiences of my life, Heavy Rain isn’t a game, as much as it is an experience. Quantic Dream first wowed us with Indigo Prophecy for the Xbox and PC, but they have taken video games into ground breaking territory with Heavy Rain.
Played from the point-of-view of four main characters, the plot of the game centres around The Origami killer, who has been kidnapping and killing children using rain as the method of execution. We follow Madison Paige, a journalist, Scott Shelby, a private investigator, Norman Jayden, an FBI agent assigned to the case and Ethan Mars, father of the latest kidnap victim and prime suspect in The Origami Killer case.
This isn’t your typical game as far as control schemes go. It’s played out with contextual button schemes, mimicking character movements and actions on-screen. At times you need to follow prompts on the screen in frenzied action, other times you need to press or move buttons and joysticks slowly on-screen or risk failing at an attempt. While unconventional, this method helps bring us into the characters more deeply and satisfactorily than any other game I’ve ever played.
The story is so compelling and ‘suck you in’ good, that my partner wouldn’t allow me to play the game when she wasn’t there, lest she miss something important. There are twists and turns, and yes, even moments of jaw-dropping terror. The Origami Killer has left clues for Ethan Mars to find his son, and these clues lead to many moments that would please any Saw enthusiast. From being made to decide to cut off one of your own limbs, to holding a gun on a stranger deciding to kill him or not, you control the decisions, and morals come into play more deeply and effectively here than ever before in gaming. There are consequences to your actions, sometimes dire.
The voice acting is top notch, all voiced by no name actors that have a great future in gaming. Even the kids. Graphically, this game is a knock-out. The character renders are nothing short of a miracle, especially during load screens, when we’re treated to a close-up of the character in the up-coming episode, It’s uncanny that we’re looking at a video game creation, and not a real person. Some of the movements can sometimes feel static, but that’s more than made up for by the most detailed and brilliantly rendered set-pieces I’ve ever seen. I spent 20 minutes just walking through a dilapidated hotel, because I couldn’t believe how incredibly detailed it was. From paint peeling, to work out carpet, the locations are a sight to behold.
The score as atmospheric and gloomy as the game, captures the mood perfectly, from discovering a starving infant to running through a nightmare amusement park looking for your son. It perfectly accents the games stark realities.
The game is rated M, and that’s a hard M. There are moments of extreme violence, drug use and full frontal nudity, all which work within the context of the game, and never seem placed there for the sake of showing a naked female. But make no mistake, kids should not be playing this game.
The game could probably be finished in about 10 hours, but the is a moderate amount of replay value as there are 6 main endings and up to 16 sub-plot endings. Yes, main characters can die, gruesomely, and they do not return.
I play a lot of video games. And many genres. None of them yet have made me feel moments of terror and panic, loss and grief. And none of them have made me care for the characters as much as Heavy Rain has. This game is a PS3 exclusive, and it’s worth buying the system for.
Roger Ebert says video games can not be art. One play through of Heavy rain, and I felt more satisfied than 90% of the films I’ve ever seen. It left me breathless, wiped out and utterly engaged.
Witness the evolution of the video game genre with Heavy Rain.
2 Responses to “GAME REVIEW: Heavy Rain (PS3)”
May 3rd, 2010 at 8:59 pm
Nice review. This is the game that has me trying to convince my wife that we need a ps3. Super excited to play and now that Quantic Dream has its engine down I hope to see more like it coming from the studio.
David Cage says that he wants players to only experience the game once. Maybe he thinks that multiple play throughs will reveal some seams that players didn’t catch the first time around. Do you agree? With so many branches in the story would you risk another play through with a chance of tarnishing that first experience?
May 3rd, 2010 at 9:15 pm
Hi Dale, there lies my conundrum with the game. I do know that there are 5 main endings and close to 20 sub-plot endings. The experience of the game would be different yes, any one of the main characters can die in the game, but I do know that the end reveal of the killer is always the same (it’s always the same character), although the circumstances can be different. The initial shock and awe of the game would be gone, I’m sure the first run through contains most of the ‘jaw drooping wtf’ moments, but I would enjoy seeing where the direction that the different sub-endings would lead us.
To play devils advocate….the first experience was such an amazing experience, that I may want to keep it that way. The Sixth Sense is never better the second time around. Time will tell, I have such a back log of games to get to, if I do revisit HR, it will be long enough down the road, that I may just welcome the re-visit.