Ever since that trailer known as "The Casting" I've been anticipating Heavy Rain. David Cage's promise to deliver an adult story with real relationships and a branching storyline with consequences for your actions had me intrigued from day one. Well the game was finally released, I just finished it, and I can only hope that the sequel doesn't take as long to come out.
In Heavy Rain you play as one of four main characters. Each segment with a character can be thought of as a scene. Upon the end of each scene you'll more than likely switch to another character and pick up the story from there. These characters can die. In fact, you can lose a few of them pretty early on in the story if you're not careful. Throughout the game you'll experience the story from the vantage point of each of these characters and certain decisions you'll make while playing each character will play a major part in the game's outcome.
Having said all that, it should be obvious by now that this is not like most games you've played thus far. In fact, it's really hard to classify Heavy Rain in any particular type of genre. The best label I can place on the game is that of an interactive movie. In this "interactive movie" certain characters will have to make decisions that run the gambit from self-mutilation to self-deprecation. Despite these decisions it is worth noting that there is no real wrong decision. The story will just continue based on what you choose.
Much has been made of the game's quick time events. If you're not a fan of QTEs you'll probably come into this a bit more skeptical than most. I think it's crucial to understand that some of the gestures/movements that you're character is pulling off would lose a lot of the dramatic effect without the QTEs. In fact, the QTEs are probably implemented solely to simulate the tension that would accompany many of the decisions in this game.
Traversing the environment is done by moving a character's head with the left analog and walking in that by pressing the R2 button. There are times when this can lead to you walking into a corner or not being able to go where you want. I was able to get around this by switching the camera angle, but overall this aspect of the controls didn't feel as natural and fluid as I would've liked.
The visuals in this game are some of the best you'll see on any home console. Take a moment to really examine some of the facial features on the characters and it'll almost feel like you're staring into a real person's face. This may be because many of the game's characters are in fact real people that volunteered to have their face scanned for use in the game. The environments are no slouch either. Whether navigating through a crowded mall or walking down steps in a motel, all the locations have a realistic look to them. The realism was, unfortunately, broken at times due to the voice acting. The actors are all talented, but Heavy Rain is set in the North East of the U.S.A yet most of the characters have a very European accent. This is not something that detracts from the game in any major way, but I did find myself occasionally grimacing at the pronunciation of some words.
The music is some of the best I've heard in a video game. From the music you can play on your home stereo to the thumping bass in a club, everything sounds authentic and top notch. I'm actually considering buying the soundtrack at some point.
In conclusion, I completed Heavy Rain's story and I felt satisfied. I hope that doesn't come across as a knock on the game as Cage and his team gave me exactly what I was hoping for. While this is by no means the perfect game, this is a major stepping stone in what I hope will be a trend of games that strive to get a Mature rating for more than just gratuitous acts of violence. Heavy Rain is without a doubt one of those games that makes me feel proud to be a gamer. I can't wait to play through it again.