Heavy Rain review (PS3)

wokhedinn | 1592d ago | User review
Reviewing: Heavy Rain
Not What Was Advertised
I love adventure games. When most kids were growing up on Contra and Metroid, I was solving puzzles in Loom and Monkey Island. But a good adventure game is a difficult thing to make. I’m a sucker for stories. I’ve sat through droves of terrible titles just to find out what comes next in the story. At their root, adventure games oppose everything modern gaming has become. They’re long, plodding, confusing, esoteric jumbles of point and click puzzle solving. But they continue to draw me in with their unique narratives and engaging stories.

I write that because, despite its claim as “interactive drama,” Heavy Rain is an adventure game. However, it manages to do what no adventure game has yet – remove all the excess that interferes with the story. This stripped-to-basics style of Heavy Rain allows for its greatest asset, its story, to stand at the forefront. And the story does not disappoint. Despite a few nagging plot holes, Heavy Rain is easily David Cage’s strongest effort on paper and arguably one of the most captivating adventure stories gaming has seen.

Since Heavy Rain’s impetus is its story rather than its gameplay, it needs to immerse the player completely. Unfortunately, the voice acting and dialogue come out like a soap opera rather than a movie. Heavy Rain manages to mend that thread with incredible character models. Between scenes, close-ups of each protagonist’s face show off Heavy Rain’s stunning graphics engine. Every hair of stubble or pore on Ethan Mars’ face can be counted. In game, the models move in remarkably lifelike fashion thanks to superior motion capture efforts. But the believability can sometimes fade when a character interacts with another. In one scene, two characters kiss and look like plastic action figures being mashed together. While these moments tend to be the exception, they usually occur when believability is at an utmost importance.

Heavy Rain puts you in the seat of four protagonists, all with different personalities, quirks, and motives. They all have one unifying objective, to find the origami killer and prevent the death of his latest kidnapping victim, Shaun Mars. The way each character goes about this task brings the real spark to the game, with each person implementing unique methods. Norman Jayden, an FBI detective, uses field analysis to draw conclusions about the case. On the other hand, Madison Paige tends to go undercover, often finding herself in seedy situations she must talk her way out of.

As you progress through the story, especially in the later portions of the game, you’ll engage in increasingly dangerous and riveting activity. At times, a character can even die. Instead of game over, you continue playing the rest of the game without that character’s involvement. While that knowledge ratchets up the intensity a few hundred notches, I soon discovered that killing a character may be the hardest thing to accomplish in the game. Heavy Rain came with preconceived notions about what was and was not possible regarding the quick-time-event action scenes. But these preconceived notions are nothing but a veil to cover up that nearly every scene ends exactly the same regardless of what you do.

Once this veil is uncovered, the game reveals its biggest flaw. When every action seems to have meaning, very simple decisions can carry extreme weight. But when you realize that your actions have almost no meaning, each scene just goes through the necessary motions to reach the next. For example, one part of the game has a character stumble upon an attempted suicide. I played through the scene with a sense of urgency, trying to save the poor woman before she succumbed to her wounds. But the second time, as an experiment, I tried to see what would happen if I let her die. Unfortunately I discovered that’s not an option. Instead, I stood around aimlessly for 30 minutes waiting for her to bleed to death, but could only advance the story if I eventually helped her and did everything exactly as I had the first time.

While this problem exists in almost all adventure games, Heavy Rain claimed to have actions that affected the narrative. But the only affect comes through your perceptions. And rarely do you even have the option of choice, instead forced to sit through a preordained set of commands to reach the next set of commands. If you miss a key story element, it resolves itself later as if you never missed it to begin with. The only thing this can affect is the game’s final sequence, which only has six different iterations.

In the end, Heavy Rain feels like it could’ve been so much more. Had it lived up to a fraction of what it claimed to be, Heavy Rain could’ve been one of those few games that changed the way people think about programming. Instead it’s just another adventure game in an oversaturated market. Since it’s almost entirely story driven, Heavy Rain seems like it would be much better suited as a film, miniseries, or even an episodic downloadable series (like the game’s upcoming prequels). After one playthrough, it will find itself on the shelf gathering dust. Heavy Rain isn’t a bad game, just a very shallow one.

http://davidrage.wordpress....
Ups
Amazing facial renders
Story is engaging and compelling
Interesting mechanic more compelling than point and click adventure games
Downs
Boring, inconsequential gameplay
Far too many needless scenes that add nothing to the story
Killing a character might be the hardest thing to do in the game
Score
9.0
Graphics Great character models, particularly faces. Unfortunately when these models interact with one another it looks awful.
7.5
Sound Nothing stands out in the sound mix, and the voice acting is below average at best. Overly dramatic, boring score.
7.0
Gameplay While more streamlined than most adventure games, the routines can become monotonous and even frustrating.
4.0
Fun factor The game isn't particularly fun, driven more by progressing through the narrative than actually enjoying yourself. Many parts of the game seem like tedious chores.
0.0
Online
7.3
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
aj2009  +   1591d ago
good review
When it comes to the script, even, I would have to say that it's just too obvious that a foreigner wrote it. This game was in development for four years and nobody at SCEA ever picked up the script and fucking read it? I mean... like when the kid (Sean) says "I don't want to play this game anymore" and he's talking about the swing, I'm like who in god's name let that one slip through during the script editing process? No child is stupid enough to consider the swing a game, and to be honest, whether or not that fact can be debated, it just sounded weird to me when he said it. For a game to have the kind of problems that could have been remedied by actually having a member of the TARGETED DEMOGRAPHIC (ie. native english speakers) oversee the development process would have to indicate that some serious gum is in the machinery of that company. In four years they never thought to hire native english speakers.. i mean not even to act, which for me is a no-brainer, but at least to just oversee the process! I mean, David Cage was writing and directing a game that was aimed (at least in large part) at North Americans and it seems as though no North American was ever consulted during the game development process! Why didn't SONY, a movie producing corporation, for god's sake, step in and fine tune that game's script? Did they not want to offend the creativity of David Cage? Jesus.

If they were to re-write every scene properly that game would be a masterpiece. It is so painful to see a game that, granted, was unique and entertaining, be held back from perfection because of what, at best, could be described as a lack of foresight and, at worst, arrogance.
#1 (Edited 1591d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(4) | Report | Reply
NecrumSlavery  +   1588d ago
I personally loved this game. It's an easy 9 in my book. I hope David Cage continues to make games like this. Maybe a science fiction this time. It can be real or fake in fantasy, hell I don't care. Loved Indigo Profecy, Loved Heavy Rain.
butterfinger  +   1588d ago
You are...
exactly right, aj.
nan0  +   1591d ago
...
I'm pretty sure "native English speakers" aren't North Americans. I also can believe that if games can have teleportation and overly large breasts without being questioned, this game can certainly get a free pass. I mean I'm not going to let an accent ruin my WHOLE gaming experience. It's kind of foolish to think so.

Also, giving it a 0 because it has no online is downright foolish as well. Most of the best games of all time had no online, period. If you're used to generic, repetitive, predictable games such as COD and consider that "action" then Heavy Rain isn't for you. This game certainly isn't boring. It needs your full attention. If you're sitting there blasting some sh*t music or talking to people while playing it has little to no impact. You have to get in the atmosphere.
aj2009  +   1590d ago
I wasn't referring to their accents
Although the accent slip-ups did have the tendency to disrupt the mood of some of the more dramatic scenes, what I was referring to was the writing and acting. Lines were far too often phrased strangely, which can be irking for the simple fact that we are supposed to be listening to, for example, a typical American family. What you apparently thought I was criticizing was the lack of realism, when, more specifically, I was talking about believability, which has more to do with consistency... and you know, people acting like *people*. If this is a game based in Philly, the people should sound like they're from Philly, no? So it is true that Bayonetta should have massive back problems due to the overgrown passengers on her chest, it doesn't really take away from the gameplay experience, making it a poor target for criticism if you are talking about the game and not some political or social issue having to do with the portayal of women in media. Script writing and acting, on the other hand, play a large role (so to speak) in the gameplay experience itself, so I don't think on the basis that you are suggesting should Heavy Rain be given a "free pass" with regard to criticism.

A favourite line of mine that kind of illustrates my point: "Go fuck yourself in the ass!"

lol! who says that???

Now, don't get me wrong, I played and liked Heavy Rain, and I think some scenes were absolutely marvelous... specifically the clock maker scene. But it is because I have seen IN Heavy Rain what Heavy Rain could have been throughout that I am so saddened by the failure of the script to carry the weight of the experience.

Also, I think he gave the online a zero probably because N/A was unavailable. Don't take it as a rating, I think you should give the reviewer a little more credit than that, I doubt he 'hated' the non-existent online component.
knight626  +   1589d ago
i guess this new gameplay that try wasnt for you...i loved the game
felidae  +   1589d ago
to each his own.

heavy rain is a great game!
LordMarius  +   1587d ago
my personal GOTY atm

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Heavy Rain

Average Score 8.8 Reviews(383)
Release Dates
PS3 Release Dates
JP 18 February 2010
AU 25 February 2010
US 23 February 2010
EU 24 February 2010
PS4 Release Dates
Xbox 360 Release Dates