Flash Review

“Your Smallest Decisions Can Change Everything.”

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Heavy Rain
Length: 00:05:19

This is a video of a short scene featuring Madison Paige, one of the four playable characters in Heavy Rain.

+ The Good - The Bad
+ ARI Glasses
+ Dr. Scene
+ Return of a Dead Genre

- Slow Beginning
- Constant Urge to Play a Game

Jason “…I had to see what was going to happen next…

Before even attempting to play Heavy Rain, I had to get the memories of Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace out of my head. Interactive games began to pop up at arcades back in the day with the development of the laser disc. Fortunately for us, they also ended up the same way the laser disc did. For me, playing a game based on trial and error is annoying and should, by no means, be considered a game. So with this in mind I was very reserved about how I would view Heavy Rain.

After the first few hours of HR, I still felt the same way. The pacing was slow and tedious, and the button sequences for interacting with objects and moving them around was getting annoying. But after painstakingly getting through the introduction and completing the demo missions, Heavy Rain started to grab my attention.

The story picks up and continues at a far better pace. Although some scenes seemed a bit short towards the end, they all tie in well to the plot and make for an enjoyable experience. Each character has his or her own mannerisms and personality, which really brings them to life. This is very important in keeping the player attached to the story and it was done well. I finished the game in 3 sittings because I had to see what was going to happen next. For someone who doesn’t enjoy games like this, I was glued to it. Some scenarios were completely unexpected and they all just added to the intriguing story.

On the gameplay side of things, everything worked out well, but with flaws. The controls are spot on and responsive, but some of the button sequences are ridiculous. There was more than one occasion when I had to use my nose or tongue to press a button. Also, some scenes had too much to interact with in a small area, and I found myself performing the wrong action and or grabbing the wrong object. Just a few minor tweaks to make before the next chapter.

HR is surely not the epic interactive drama we hoped for, but it is a unique game that deserves, at the least, one playthrough. If you’re into obscure games such as Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, this is a good one to pick up, but if action is your forte, Heavy Rain is better left alone.

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+ The Good - The Bad
+ Story
+ ARI Glasses
+ Graphics

- Voice Acting
- Too Short
- Did I Mention Voice Acting?

Todd “…combines the depth of a movie with the control of a game…”

Heavy Rain, the first game of its kind, combines the depth of a movie with the control of a game.  HR is a psychological thriller that uses button combos to control the life-altering decisions of the player. Sounds boring, right? Surprisingly, it’s not.

You play as one of four main characters that are all intertwined in the story. As the story progresses you cycle through the characters and the story very slowly begins to unfold. Ethan, one of these main characters is left searching for his son who has been kidnapped by the illusive Origami Killer. With the help of detective Shelby, Madison the journalist, and Norman the FBI agent who uses ARI (added reality interface) glasses to search for DNA and store clues found on crime scenes throughout the game, the hunt for the Origami Killer begins. While the voice acting may not have been “movie-quality,” you start to really identify with the characters and actually feel emotion as you would in a real movie.

Graphically, Quantic Dream outdid themselves bringing realism not seen in any other game. The sound and music immersed and set the tone for this dark drama. Controls, although different from most games, became very intuitive shortly after starting. Actions and movement in HR, being controlled by different combinations of button presses, varied from simple to complex having to contort my fingers and even use my nose to press five different buttons.

HR was a unique experience, Quantic Dream set the standard in this new genre and may be a hard act to follow.  HR, while it may not be for everyone, is certainly a great experience and worth a play-through.

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+ The Good - The Bad
+ Fantastic Score
+ 4 Characters work
+ Multiple endings

- Opens slow
- Changing diapers
- Altering scenes with a reset

Aaron “…I really didn’t plan on licking my PS3 paddle…”

I really didn’t know what to think when firing up Heavy Rain, I mean, I was intrigued by the concept of an “Interactive Drama” or movie as a game, but could Quantic Dream really pull it off? Would I care about any of the characters enough to want to continue the story? And why the hell am I pushing a child on a swing in my new $64 purchase?

Luckily, after a couple of incredibly boring scenes, these questions, as well as HR’s story began to reveal themselves in a way I’ve honestly never seen before in a game. Other then Commander Shepherd from the recently released Mass Effect 2, I haven’t felt so emotionally attached to a character as I was with HR’s Ethan Mars. Without ruining any of the story, let’s just say Ethan will do anything for what he believes, and QD did a fantastic job making me want to continue his seemingly neverending quest his given by the Origami Killer. And it’s not only Ethan; all four (that’s right, four) playable characters brought something unique to HR’s story. Whether it’s the sexy journalist Madison Paige, the cool headed FBI agent Norman Jayden, or the lovable detective Scott Shelby, after a few chapters with each, it didn’t matter who I was playing; I cared about them all.

On to the gameplay: like Jason, I also wound up giving my PS3 controller “the tongue” during some button pressing segments. Not that this is a bad thing, but I really didn’t plan on licking my PS3 paddle. On a whole, controls are good and work well enough to not frustrate you, although I hated shifting the controller left and right. I can’t speak for everyone but when I watch a movie, I try to move as little as possible (especially during an interactive drama).

As for replay value, HR offers players multiple endings and story outcomes to keep you busy but that’s about it. You’ll be able to load any chapter you want, so a second playthrough isn’t needed. You can also change the outcome of any sequence by quickly exiting to the main menu and continuing your game. This can possibly be a glitch QD wanted to keep out, but I happily took advantage.

In the end, I just can’t give HR my full recommendation for $60. Do I think everyone should experience it? It’s so unique that the answer is yes - but unique in a Primal Fear or Silence of the Lambs type way. Although both are great movies, how often do you have the urge to sit down and watch them? Exactly. Give HR a rent instead, this storm passes rather quickly.

User Reviews

+ The Good - The Bad
+Multiple endings
+ Some great acting / believable characters
+ Great texture work

-Frustrating controls
-Some horrible acting as well
-Screen tearing

liquidxtension “…I had to see what was going to happen next…”

It’s really hard to describe the type of game Heavy Rain is; it does not follow any means of conventional gameplay methods. Heavy Rain takes these old outdated mechanics of point and click adventures and revitalizes it with a breath of fresh of air. To put it simply, Heavy Rain could be considered the next evolution in point and click adventures. It brings a better-defined interactive experience among its predecessors. Not only is Heavy Rain a video game, it’s also an experience that you probably won’t find on any other game this year; and it’s one hell of a thrill ride.

Although the game has one of the slowest starts ever, it’ll soon keep you glued to the TV screen like an engrossing movie. With each character having their own experiences, they will also end up with different outcomes depending on how well you succeed with well executed quick time events through each sequence. This is one major difference that makes Heavy Rain exceed its earlier counterparts. Even when you miss a button or swing your motion controller the wrong way, the event still continues branching off into different paths, but you will feel so immersed in the game that you will not want to screw up a single stroke. With the added complication that your character has only one life, your adrenaline will just spike to make sure you manage the timely gestures. Whatever happens throughout the game will eventually affect how your story develops and how it will conclude. Similar to what I had said in my Mass Effect 2 review, Quantic Dream set a blueprint and it’s the player that eventually decides where it will go.

But even with all the praise I give it, I can’t help feel that a couple of issues that ruined the experience. First off, the game can look great – most of the time. The characters are very well detailed and so are most of the environments. Along with the ominous rain constantly pouring throughout the game, the world teems with a realistic ambience; I could actually believe that places in this game actually existed. But with constant screen tearing that occurs often during hectic scenes, and texture pop-ins that could take up a few seconds load in, it can really hurt the experience. The biggest problem I had was with the controls. While I actually like the way they handled the design for the controls as well as the motion support, the problem, though, was they weren’t as responsive as I wanted them to be. Sometimes I would hit the right gesture and the game would not realize it, leaving me to make an unintentional mistake. I wouldn’t have found this a big issue had it not only happened so often.

I feel that the “technical” score I’m giving Heavy Rain may be too low. I personally loved this game. But at the same time, the visual issues and the frustrating controls can really become an issue. Yet, I never thought I’d ever change a baby’s diaper in game or be tested with some tough situations which would make tremble if it ever happened to me; that’s what makes this game so special. Quantic Dream did something amazing, and that is bringing an emotional, action-packed experience with a story that should be at least nominated for best screenplay. It challenged a gamer’s psyche and their morality – something many games strive to do and fail to achieve.