Preview – Heavy Rain (PS3)

Title: Heavy Rain
Expected Release Date: 02/16/2010
Developer: Quantic Dream

I have never played Quantic Dream’s previous title Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy, so my only expectations for this game were from what I’d seen online and at E3. A lot of people have taken the stance that the game is just a glorified set of Quicktime Events, and I can see that, especially from someone who had played Indigo Prophecy in the past. Hit the link and see if I agree with that assessment…

heavy-rain-gamescom-05-1250623472 To say that Heavy Rain is an ambitious title is like saying that Mark kinda likes the Sega Saturn. To be honest, this is not a game that I would normally attract to, but I’ve been interested in it since the initial reveal. The style is a mix of Film Noire and a gritty crime drama, and from a film-geek’s perspective, I really wanted to see if they could deliver.

The preview disc that we received allows for about 3 hours of gameplay, and really only scratches the surface of what this game is all about. We get a glimpse into the lives of the 4 main characters, lives which, at the beginning of the game, are very far removed from one another. As the individual stories move forward, we begin to see how all 4 will mesh together throughout the game, and the player is given more questions than answers. Also, this game will screw with your head, big-time! Some of the tasks that you perform will be monotonous at the start, but everything you do sets the story and narrative up as you delve deeper into the layers of the story.

SHRINK04Voice acting is excellent overall, except I was a bit irritated by one of the main character’s voice work (Ethan Mars), that of the father that loses his kid (as seen in the trailer at the bottom of this Preview.) I have a feeling that I’ll warm-up to it later on, but his voice was definitely the standout. The game starts pretty slow, but the farther I got in, the more I wanted to play to get to that next chapter. It’s definitely a movie-quality script, and I became engrossed very quickly into solving some of the mysteries introduced to the player.

Gameplay between the 4 characters is as unique as the characters themselves. They all have human flaws that you have to deal with when controlling their actions. Control can be construed as quicktime’ish in nature, but it goes much deeper than what you’ve experienced in the past. Depending on what is happening, and where the interaction is happening in association with where your hands etc are to the situation, the button presses, action on the controller, or stick movement is based on that interaction contextually. For example, a guy might take a swing at your head with his right hand, so you’d have to hit Circle in a specific amount of time to block that punch. Or, if climbing up an embankment, you would press and hold R1 (right hand) then press and hold R2 (right foot) then press L1 while letting go of R1 (Move your weight to the left hand.) It sounds incredibly confusing, but after using the control scheme for about 10 minutes, it actually makes sense. Also, one wrong move doesn’t mean a failure. Instead the fight (for instance) will just take longer and be a bit tougher as you have to “fight back” and turn the tide to your favor.

SLEAZY_PLACE07 One of the biggest draws to this game is the ever-branching storyline, or “Bending Storyline” as the Creator/Director/Writer David Cage likes to use. I played a scene in 3 different ways, and each time I got a different result. Some may net you a great clue to move you along faster, whereas other branches may end-up getting you killed. If that happens, the story keeps moving along, although it’ll make things more difficult down the road. This mechanic does work, and very well. Just don’t expect a huge difference between paths (although the change is bigger than I expected.) Honestly, with all of the “WTF” moments I’ve already encountered, and the scenes that I’ve played that definitely setup the story, I’m completely hooked by the story, and it’s killing me that the Preview disc ends so early in the game. If it stays this tight all the way through, this is definitely going to be an intensely satisfying experience.

CRIMESCENE03 You’ll be met with some of the most detailed and deep visuals ever seen in a game, even on PC. The game doesn’t rely on the visuals or audio to cover anything up though, but they do add that special “something” to the game to completely pull the player in to the experience. Everything that happens in the game is in-engine (so far,) even though you’ll be questioning that when you see the rich detail throughout. Every character has a specific personality, and has obviously been thought-out in incredible detail. You want to know more about each person you meet, and find out their motivations, to find out why they’re acting in a certain way, and what you need to ask and not ask to get the correct response. Also, if you hold down L2 at most times throughout, certain choices will float around your character’s head. These are thoughts that your character has running though his/her head in the certain situation. One thing that I was surprised to see was that you can quite literally not even ask a question of a character. It’s going to make getting to your ultimate goal a lot tougher, but it’s still a surprise that you can do something like that.

I wish that I could go into more detail, but obviously if we can’t capture video or pictures from this build, there’s a LOT more to come. You only have a couple of more months to wait, but so far, I am VERY impressed with what I’ve played. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but for how ambitious it is, I’m in awe of what they’ve accomplished. This is on-track to be THE game to set the bar for interactive storytelling, and for a lot of games in general. Just wait until you see that first loading screen, your jaw will drop at the detail of the character’s face.

Check out the trailer from Gamescom 2009 below

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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