Saturday, July 21, 2012

Heavy Rain: Magnifique

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is a story unlike any other in the video game industry in that it's more of a character driven story rather than the story driving the character by forcing his or her hand to meet the circumstances or situation in the appropriate manner. Heavy rain is a deeply personal, intimate story that will reach out to the player and pull him/her right in. And though it may not be the in-your-face, heart-pounding, curb-stomping action game that seems to be the way the gaming industry is trending towards these days, Heavy Rain stands as a reminder that a game can be just as engaging and fun. What's more, it shows that, like some of the older video games, players don't need to be constantly taking on hordes of enemies, ducking behind cover, grabbing guns and waiting for their health/shields to recharge, or slicing an enemies head off in order to have a good time. That's not to say Heavy Rain doesn't have its moments that will get the adrenaline pumping. My point is this, like so many movies out there, Heavy Rain thrives in its story and suspense and intrigue, rather than throwing things at the player/observer every ten seconds. Ever wonder why so many remakes can't hold a candle to the original? In a word, Heavy Rain is Magnifigue and a must buy for PS3 owners .

Heavy Rain Overview

Heavy Rain there are four protagonists the player controls and interacts with. Ethan Mars must find his son, taken by the origami killer, a serial killer who kills his victims during extended periods of heavy rainfall. The others, an investigative journalist named Madison Paige, a private detective named Scott Shelby, and a FBI profiler Norman Jayden, are also intertwined in the story as each tries to uncover clues that will lead to the Origami Killer's identity.

Heavy Rain Trailer

  Heavy Rain Controls

Player's control the actions of the protagonists through a series of highlighted control indicators that are highlighted on screen. These are related to what the character is doing. In many cases, players will find themselves manipulating the controller in a way that emulates how they would normally interact with an object in real life and creates a sense of reality that will have players invested in the characters as they will feel like they truly are the ones pulling the strings and directing the character's actions. At times, particularly the more adrenaline-packing portions of the game I mentioned above, players take part in quick time events. These events can be absolutely brutal and there may be times when you're so caught up in what is going on, you'll miss the specific action you're supposed to be taking, or you may mess up in your anxiousness and nervousness to save your favorite character. This may seem like the same old thing we've come to expect from games with quick time events. In in many respects it is essentially the same idea. But this is where it gets interesting. Heavy Rain has an overlying plot with specific endings. What the player changes is the narrative itself, how the players get to the endings provided depending on their actions. So if you mess up a quick time event, be prepared to live with the consequences. If you succeed, your character may yet live to see another day of Heavy Rain.
no matter the outcome, the game continues to play

Heavy Rain Story and Gameplay Options

Heavy Rain has an overlying plot with specific endings. What the player changes is the narrative itself; how the players get to the endings provided depending on their actions. So if you mess up a quick time event, be prepared to live with the consequences. If you succeed, your character may yet live to see another day of Heavy Rain. This all comes down to player choice. From actions that may or may not save a character's life, to what he or she drinks for breakfast, choosing to brush their teeth, saving a woman in a case of domestic violence, saving a guy at a convenience store, who you choose to talk to, and what you decide to say all have consequences, whether they be good or bad. And as I said, the story carries on, even if you're not happy with what happened. As you can imagine, with so much player choice and preference, this game has a ton of replayability. Just do yourself a favor, at least your first time through, just stick with your choices without resetting or doing a part over to get the desired result. You'll be happy you did as the game will feel more organic and real. Your second time around, feel free to mess around with the choices and actions to see what you like best. but as this is a game that is meant to be a story that is being told as the player manipulates the strings, you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you cheat the first time you play through. And it will be tempting to do so, as characters can die, which has a significant impact on the the overall story, players who would normally contribute to the progression of the story, or aid another key character, in some cases saving his or her life, obviously won't be able to do so.

Heavy Rain Gameplay

Heavy Rain Problems

And now for some of the bad elements of Heavy Rain. While Heavy Rain is normally visually stunning in its detail and atmosphere, there are a few problems that tend to pop up at the worst possible moments. Frame rates can get out of whack, even delayed or simply not in sync with what is going on, what the character is doing, or what he or she is saying. And texture pop ins and outs is another problem. Basically, in many cases, expect close ups to look almost clay-like one second, and then brilliant the next. It's not that big of a problem, considering how engaging Heavy Rain is at its core, but is it noticeable and distracting, which is not something a game like this can afford since it's roughly 60-70% story and 40-30% active gameplay. One final thing I should mention is that sometimes players won't know what to do right away, even with the highlighted indicator on the screen. This holds true especially with new actions you haven't performed yet with the controller. And what will probably frustrate new players is that some of these controls are more complicated depending on what is happening. Expect to see a correlation. The more complicated the action being performed by the character, the more involved the actual control will be do perform the action. And while I personally didn't mind this all the much, I think it's safe to say it may irritate the more casual gamers out there.

Heavy Rain: Final Verdict

Overall, Heavy Rain is an outstanding game. The visuals are stunning, the acting is phenomenal. Controls are fun to use once you get the hang of them and even performing minute tasks has its own joy in performing the action. The gameplay and quick time events are just enough to keep the more streamlined gamer happy with plenty of heart-pounding action to satisfy even their need for constant twitch controls and super human reflexes. Most importantly, the story, the biggest part of Heavy Rain, is original, unique, and solid in  execution, and is, in my opinion, what truly makes this game one of the most memorable games I've played in the last few years. That being said, it does suffer from a few drawbacks and is certainly not a game for the casual gamer. Heavy Rain earns a well deserved 8 out of 10, falling just short of a nine.

Heavy Rain Deals

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