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Old 03-09-2010, 07:48 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: UK
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Murray's reviews

All my reviews will contain spoilers, I have resisted the temptation to actually score games.

Heavy Rain
Quantic Dreams

Heavy Rain is David Cage's most recent attempt at blurring the lines between games and movies. Primarily using QTEs combined with with some ill advised walking controls you assume the control of four characters who's stories intertwine throughout. Set somewhere in North America a child has gone missing and your job as the child's father, an FBI agent, a private eye and a journalist is to piece together his whereabouts and find the killer.

QTEs can be a cheap and annoying mechanic in some games, feeling as if you're having actual control wrestled away from you but here they provide the most tense moments of a game which is well paced and at times thought provoking. Walking around however is a different matter. In a game as cinematic as this walking into walls, turning the wrong away and generally flailing around detracts from it's film like qualities and is a constant reminder that this is still very much a video game. There are other decisions which further the frustration with the controls. Often, asking question or listening to your players thoughts is made awkward by the incredibly minimal, colourless button prompts which often shake on screen, square and circle can, at times, be difficult to differentiate.

The characters are mixed bag. Divorced father Ethan Mars is the main protagonist, tasked with trying to save his kidnapped son. Norman Jayden, the FBI agent who the cops don't want around. Madison Paige is a journalist who aides Ethan and provides a few moments of naked flesh and Scott Shelby a P.I. investigating the murders of the Origami Killer. Ethan has real narrative momentum, locating his son by performing tasks the killer sets him provides moments of great tension and have you feeling invested in him. Norman Jayden provides some of the games more interesting moments, deciphering clues or investigating a crime scenes are a welcome break from the other scenes and break up the pace nicely, feeling significantly different to the rest of it. The other two are much less interesting and at times feel perfunctory...much like my description of them.

Graphically it's beautiful and depressing in equal measure, it rains almost constantly after the first hour and with the film noir scoring can be a pretty sobering experience. There's a fair amount of screen tearing going on which detracts from the cinematic experience but it's more than made up for by some great facial motion capture and animations.

The story, oh the story. It's moves along at a nice pace switching roles regularly but with the exception of Ethan does little to make you feel invested in the characters and never really develops them as it goes on. It's still a fairly solid plot though...up to a point. As soon as the killer is revealed its exposes huge plot holes that are never explained. The killer is one of the people you assume control of, at these points you have access to the killers inner thoughts via the L2 button, yet at no point as you hunt for the killer (yourself!?) do you seem aware that it's you and this is never explained?? Similarly Ethan has schizophrenic moments where he blacks out, when he comes to he is always holding an origami figure, this happens twice in the game and then is just totally forgotten about and never explained.

Heavy Rain is a mostly enjoyable, interesting and at points very tense attempt at cinematic gaming but it's ultimately let down by a plot twist which left me feeling a little patronised. If this was a movie plot it would be laughed out of the cinema.

Last edited by murray; 03-15-2010 at 01:36 PM.
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