Review by Drizzy_Drizake
An emotional thrill ride that few games can deliver
Before I get started I want to make something clear. If you are the kind of gamer who is only interested in shooters, hack and slash, or just any of the usual bloody hardcore action games this is probably not for you. If you are the kind of gamer who is only interested in gameplay and could care less about story this is definitely not for you. If you are open to a wider variety of games and enjoy a good story, or like me find that story is something crucial to a good game then you are in for a treat.
Heavy Rain delivers an incredible story that put me through the most emotional and adrenaline pumping experience a game has ever provided. You play as four characters Ethan Mars, Madison Paige, Norman Jayden, and Scott Shelby. While you switch between all four throughout the game the main focus is Ethan. There is a serial killer known as the Origami Killer going around kidnapping young boys and drowning them in rain water. The story revolves around how these four unrelated characters all find themselves on the same hunt to find the Origami Killer before he can take another victim. The newest one happens to be Ethan's own son. I can't really say any more as even the slightest spoiler is something you don't want. The game's central theme is simply how far you are willing to go for someone you love. The characters will go through very difficult decisions that will make you want to pause the game and seriously think about the consequences. You connect to them very fast and if something goes wrong or you make a decision you regret it really affects you personally. I have never been able to become so deeply connected to a game's plot before it is truly an incredible experience. When you are not being forced to make nerve racking decisions you are put through plenty of action sequences that really get your heart pumping. You'll have a death grip on your controller and stand up out of your seat without even realizing it as you desperately try to complete the task given. Another great thing about the story is that no decision you make can cause a game over. If you fail at a task, the game keeps going, if one of your characters dies, the game keeps going. The story is always adapting to any decision you make. You may suffer some kind of penalty in the game like missing some clues, but you will never see a game over screen. Yes you can restart if you want, but it ruins the experience. If you think something goes wrong it can be really hard, but I suggest you just keep playing and see what happens. There is a popular complaint about a really big plot hole in the game, but it did not seem like that big of a deal to me. It is not even so much a plot hole as a plot device that kind of got put in the corner. It does little to hurt the incredible story. One last thing I would like to add is that the inevitable plot twist is absolutely great and blew me away.
As you have likely heard, when using the modern definition of what it means to be a video game Heavy Rain might as well not be one. If you have ever played the game Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit you know exactly what to expect. Every action in the game is either done by pressing the analog stick in a certain direction, holding down one or multiple buttons at a time, or a big QTE (quick time event). If you don't know a QTE is where a cutscene like sequence will play out before you and several buttons will periodically pop up on screen. You have a brief window of opportunity to press it to help your character in his/her current predicament. As I mentioned earlier should you press the wrong button or just press too late the game will keep going. While most QTEs end immediately when something wrong is done you have a few chances before it stops. It is a simple playing style, but it is the only way this game could have worked. Now some complain about the amount of boring task you are given throughout the game. Yes there will be times when the action slows down and you find yourself doing things like microwaving pizza or changing a diaper. Sure this stuff is not thrilling, but I dont think it hurts the game. These task just help to show you that your characters are indeed ordinary human people. You are not some super powered hero who can't die. The characters are not protected from death because you play as them. They are all regular people who can all get hurt and who can all die. The first hour or two is mostly doing things like that, but it picks up pretty fast and once the action gets started you will not want to put this down. The only complaints I can give are that the walking mechanic can get pretty clunky. There will be times when you find yourself walking back and forth repeatedly when you are pointing in one direction. The camera angles can also be a bit awkward at times obscuring the button prompt for an action. Also the buttons for the conversation options can get really small and blurry even when they are not intended to be (yes there are times when it is on purpose). I often found my character saying or doing something I had no intention of because I could not make out the button prompt. Still it is really fun and these moments were few and far between.
The people in the game look really good. There are times when it is hard to believe they are not real actors. It really helps to be able to see the emotion on their faces and further connect you with the story. Their hands do get a bit awkward when interacting with people or objects. Most of these objects look just as real, but there are some moments when they look really flat. Overall the game has great graphics that add on to the amazing experience.
I loved the soundtrack and I loved how well every bit of music fit with the situation. If you are in a gun battle, discovering a new clue, watching a character cry, etc the musical score always goes perfect with the mood. So soundtrack, perfect, now lets talk about voice acting. The one major complaint I have heard from a good majority of gamers and from reviews is that the actors are all French and that their accents carry over hurting the experience. I tried really hard to catch this, but I could only hear it from a select few. Nearly all of the voice actors pull off an American accent just fine. In fact had I not known ahead of time I would never had guessed any different. The only actor I had problems with is the voice of Norman. His VA is pretty bad, not because of an accent either (which he does have) he is just bad. Just a few other characters do have a bit of a French accent, but for the most part they all sound American. Even with those few I still don't see a problem. I'm supposed to find the voice work bad because the character is not American? So we don't have any foreign people living in America? Why should I or you have a problem with hearing a French character or two in the game? It really does nothing at all to hurt the game. Unless you just absolutely hate French people the voice work is very good and the only actual bad actor is Norman.
High. There are going to be plenty of times when you make a choice and say what if I had done something different? The game has so many options that it is impossible to not want to go back a second time, or third, or fourth. Not to mention the vast amount of endings. The endings are drastically different. I have already done two play throughs and both of my endings were nearly 100% different.
Rent or Buy
Buy this game. Heavy Rain provides a tear jerking, heart pounding, adrenaline rush like no other game can even try to do! This game is absolutely a buy, but as I mentioned at the start only if you are a open gamer who likes a good story. Now stop reading and go get it now!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Heavy Rain (US, 02/23/10)
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