Review by Cactus11
An Amazing, Heart-Wrenching, Fantastic Experience
So I know what you're saying "A 10/10? Is this guy serious? No game deserves a 10/10" Ok, I get you. I understand where you're coming from. However, I can honestly and truly say that no game has sucked me in and held on as tightly as Heavy Rain has. No game in recent has had my heart racing, my eyes tearing, or my mind twisting like Heavy Rain has. That's a fact. Let me explain why.
Let's get the first thing out of the way.
Control-wise the game plays quite interestingly. You move by holding R2 and using the left stick. While at first it feels clunky, and indeed you'll have some moments where you may walk the wrong way, the walking scheme frees up the right stick to be used for QTE's and what I'm going to call Normal Game Actions (NGA). Let me clarify a bit. If you are walking past a drawer, you might have to hit the right stick down in order to open it. Or if you're reaching for a wallet, you might have to move the stick to the right and then go from right to bottom to left, which simulates someone retrieving something from a pocket. This is why the movement is just intuitive for this game. Overall, the game will make you feel (to some degree) that you are really making your character perform the actions. The creators wanted to make sure you felt like you were doing what your character was doing. Squeezing through a tight space? Well, you might have to hold a series of buttons that feel annoying, in order to simulate the feeling your character might be going through. It's an interesting concept, and the creators have done as much as they can considering the limitations of the PS3 remote.
Combat is essentially QTEs. For those of you who do not know, a QTE is a Quick Time Event. Those of you who are fans of Shenmue will feel themselves right at home with this type of game-play. You'll see a button prompt on the screen and you'll have to push it fast. Miss an event and your character will suffer. Either they will receive some kind of cosmetic damage, or perhaps even do something as mundane as missing a dance step. The interesting thing about Heavy Rain, as the reviews have pointed out, will complete the events without your help. Missing all of the prompts will generally not do much besides severely mess up whatever the character was doing. The game will still progress though. While this may sound a bit strange at first, your love for the story will connect you with the characters. You'll want to perform the QTEs as fluidly and perfectly as possible in order to keep your character in the best shape. You'll also never know precisely what affect you missing certain QTEs will have on the character or the story.
While I realize many of you may be shaking your heads saying "well, if I'm only pressing buttons, is this really a game or some kind of movie?" A fair question. The designers call it "Interactive Drama." In my opinion, though, Heavy Rain IS actually a game. Why? Because you influence the story. I'll talk about the choice system in the next section.
Bottom line is, the control scheme is absolutely perfect for what the developers were trying to do. I can't see how it could be any better and still be as effective. Therefore, I find absolutely no fault with the controls. I also find no fault with the method of play, because QTEs and NGAs are done so incredibly well, you genuinely feel like you're participating.
This is where the game shines. I stand by my sentence in the beginning. No game in recent history has as good a story as this game does. Let me say that in another way. No games story will immerse you in such a way that you will genuinely want to follow it all the way to its conclusion. Depending on your choices, you will bond with the characters in a way that is truly remarkable. The chase for the killer is thrilling and you will experience many cinema-like moments that will get your heart racing. If you like mystery movies, you will enjoy Heavy Rain...it's that simple. It's hard to talk about the game too much, as each piece should be experienced by the player. I can say, though, that there were some parts of the game where I cringed, some parts of the game where I was literally tearing up, and some parts of the game I was genuinely afraid. You will connect with this game.
Speaking of choices, the game has a lot. Now, of course, not every choice you make is going to influence the end of the game. In fact, very few choices change the game dramatically. However, you will make a LOT of choices in Heavy Rain. The best part is, you won't exactly realize their implications until later in the story. Many of these choices will genuinely concern you, the gamer. In some instances you will have to make choices that influence the morality of a character, or perhaps even the safety of characters. That's what's interesting about the characters. They will actually shape up according to your own morality. Granted, there will be some instances where characters may do things to upset you, but you will be able to make some important choices that will completely change the feel of characters. As the Gamespot reviewer noted, it may even be hard to play through the game a second time because the characters stories have been told already. I disagree with the last part, as it is going to be very intriguing playing the game a second time and making choices that are the opposite of my morality.
I won't go into any detail about the ending here, as this is a spoiler free review. Personally, I feel like the game follows through from start to finish. This is why, though, I classify this as a game. You actually shape the story. While you cant change the key players, you make many choices that affect the characters and the way they behave. To me, thats significant.
The graphics in this game are great. The facial animations and character movements always seem very fluid. There are some parts of the game where your character will have to walk through crowds and their reaction to those people in the crowd is extremely realistic and well done. It's obvious the designers put a lot of time into the animations and models. The backgrounds generally look spectacular. There's no real complaint here.
Some people have complained about the voice acting. I can understand why people may feel this way, but generally I was pleased with it. I never really encountered any moments where I didn't believe the character. (and some people may think I'm stupid for this) Ambient sounds were fantastic and the music is just FANTASTIC. The music fits the mood completely, and I'm tempted to buy a soundtrack when it comes out. Just great stuff.
Overall Score= 10/10
So, you can see from my short review that I think Heavy Rain is a perfect experience. I believe that, despite its short length (8-10 hours or so they say) the game is worth every penny. You get a fantastic story with great and memorable characters that genuinely bond to your heart. Perhaps I'm biased because I haven't seen anything of this quality produced by game companies in a long time, but I honestly feel like Heavy Rain is a PS3 masterpiece.
If you're looking for an enthralling experience from start to finish, buy Heavy Rain. No questions.
One more point I feel I should make here, I very rarely buy games. I bought this one and don't regret it one bit.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Heavy Rain (US, 02/23/10)
Got Your Own Opinion?
Submit a review and let your voice be heard.