I’m not totally clueless. I know that the chances of my reviews being read by the professionals of the gaming industry are slim. Yet, a hopeful part my dark soul feels that there will come a time when word will get out that I created an edgy, honest review that demands the attention of the gaming industry. I’m a strong person for believing such things and that’s why I press on and continue to write these essays known as “video game reviews.” This review is one of which I seriously hope that someone from the developing team will read. Let’s begin.
If you were given four years to do a project, do you think you could do it? More importantly, do you think you could do it well? That’s the idea behind Quantic Dream’s latest project, Heavy Rain. Ever since it’s brief tease in 2006, magazines, websites, store clerks and gamers have been talking about the Playstation 3 exclusive that’s supposed to feature the most realistic graphics to date, an intense story line with psychological undertones, the best music and voice acting money can buy and a control scheme that makes it so you become the characters in the story. It has been called an interactive movie. It has been called one of the best games of all time. It has even been called the game that might put the Playstation Move to work for once. Seriously, that glowing ball’s aesthetic wares off. Heavy Rain is a unique experience, no doubt about it. However, it’s difficult to enjoy it when the game freezes or when this so called “innovative” control scheme decides to not work very well. It doesn’t help that the graphics sometimes suffer from ghost syndrome and glitch. I give the developers credit for creating something different. However, in four years, you would think that they would fix the bugs.
Heavy Rain is an interesting tale about an east coast city that lives in terror everyday. A series of murders has been taking place for the last two years by an entity known as the Origami Killer. This jerk kidnaps young boys, drowns them in rain water, leaves the bodies with an orchid and an origami figure, covers their face with mud and let’s the police find them near a waste land. It’s terrifying, and it happened again to one of our heroes: Ethan Mars. Already living in a despondent state due to a divorce and a tragic accident, Ethan will do anything to save his son. Three others are on the case of the killer. FBI agent Norman Jayden has been sent from DC to help the case with his new technology that would make the folks at CSI jealous. The journalist and insomniac Madison Paige wants to cover the case for her next bit story. Finally, private detective Scott Shelby has a few leads on the killer and wants to save Ethan’s child. These well developed characters will meet equally believable NPCs that all have something to do with the Origami Killer. It’s a gratifying and gruesome tale about love, death, murder and the dark side of family secrets. As you ask yourself who the Origami Killer is, you’ll be given various decisions on how to interact with the world. In doing so, you’ll uncover a variety of situations and endings. How the tale ends is entirely up to you and no matter what ending you get, it’s relieving to know that you can go back at any time and alter things to your liking. I wish they had a feature allowing you to skip over the dialogue and get straight to the action.
The story of Heavy Rain is wonderful, but having it progress can be a bit of a chore. When you control a character, moving is done with a push of the analogue stick and by holding the R2 button. Moving can be tricky in the narrow areas. Some of the scenarios are timed. If you can’t move properly, things can get ugly. Alongside moving, you’re giving button prompts and motion prompts. If you mess these up, you usually get a second chance to do it again to complete the action. However, some of these button presses are timed and messing up could cause you to miss key aspects of an event. It’s interesting to control every action of your character with a simple command. At the beginning of the game, you’ll be given a tutorial as you control Ethan through his daily routine.
Holding the L2 button will display thoughts. Selecting a thought will allow you to see what is going on inside the character’s head. Certain prompts that require you to use the six-axis controller can be troublesome due to the controller’s sensitive nature. There is no denying that this new way to take control of your characters is a cool idea. The problem is that it needs some tweaks and minor kinks worked out. In four years of development, they could have been addressed.
I wish that the controls needing a fix happened to be the main issue with the game play. It pains me to say it, but they pale in comparison to the biggest issue. Spontaneous and unpredictable, Heavy Rain will often times glitch and end up freezing. Progress needing to be reworked again is the least of your worries when this happens. While I have been lucky, others have had their PS3s turn into a fancy paperweight due to their systems getting “bricked.” For me it’s annoying and cumbersome having to restart my console. For others, it’s downright scary. I’m not up to date with Sony’s warranty policy. The fact that Quantic Dream took four years to make this game yet they have the audacity to forget looking at whether or not it will glitch is inexcusable. This is the main reason why I’m hoping that someone from Quantic Dreams will read this review. Issues like this are enough to overlook the game entirely and doing so means you miss out an exceptionally crafted tale…
…and exceptionally created visuals. Heavy Rain is one of the best looking games ever made. The developers spared no expense in using real life actors and actresses equipped with the latest motion capture technology to create a realistic looking game. The game looks life like, but the attention to detail shines, too. The architecture, the roads, the cars, the interiors and every structure I may have missed looks like the real thing. Water is a major theme in Heavy Rain; watching the water droplets hit the pavement during the game’s many rainstorms makes you wonder if your television is going to get drenched. Needless to say, no corners were cut in the graphics department. I just wish they used better picks for the voice acting. The main characters do a decent job, but the supporting cast is a different story. It’s not believable in the slightest. Most of the actors are British, and you’ll hear that when they deliver their lines. I thought this game took place in United States, not in the English countryside. The music in Heavy Rain is good, but there are only two tracks: the emotional track that plays all the flippin’ time and the intense track that plays whenever something exciting (like a fight or a chase) is going on. If you’re not hearing those, you’re likely hearing silence. Personally, I prefer the silence. The two songs are well orchestrated, but hearing them over and over again gets redundant.
Heavy Rain can be completed in about five to six hours, making it the perfect game for a rental. Even if you want to see all of the endings and get all of the trophies, it’s still recommended that you rent this game or wait for it to go down in price. Seeing all of the possible endings is worthwhile because it’ll show you just how different the smallest of actions and decisions will change the outcome of your story. The story is easily the best part of the game. Following that, you have the graphics. The music and voice acting are good, but not great. The biggest gripe with the game is the way it plays. Most of the time, you’re interacting with every object in a realistic fashion. However, those times when the controls seem to hate you can make you forget about all of the good times. When the game freezes, you’ll forget about playing altogether. In my time playing Heavy Rain, it froze on me three times. No other PS3 game has done this to me. Despite all of my complaining, I still recommend that PS3 owners try out Heavy Rain. Quantic Dream’s four year blockbuster tells one of the best mysteries of all time. Unfortunately, their hard work wasn’t hard enough as shown by the major bugs that plague the finished product.