Review by Zylo the wolf
I guess this is a big love or hate game, but I LOVE IT!
Some people said during the 32bit era of games that they were starting to become more like movies and less like games. RPGs in particular had a lot of cut-scenes and some said that they didn't play through some games, they watched them. This joke continued with that some jokes that games like Xenosaga doesn't for some reason work in their DVD player. And it's hard to deny that many games today focus a lot on cut-scenes and almost make them more important than the time you actually play a game.
I remember when the Sega Mega CD just came out and many of the games where just movies in really low resolution and the only thing you did was when the screen showed you which button you were supposed to push. This concept made a comeback later with games like Shenmue, Resident Evil 4 and God of War, but now it was called quick time event (QTE) which didn't make the player lose their attention to the game when a cut-scene began. Some players still hates this and thinks it has been way over used, and I can say right now that Heavy Rain is not a game for them, since it's more like an interactive movie than an actual game.
The game begins with that we get introduced to the game's main hero, Ethan Mars. He's a happy familyman with two children and a lovely wife. We learn that it's his son Jason's birthday and his wife Grace have asked him to prepare something for the birthday party. A couple of scenes later we see the whole family in a mall, and Grace asks Ethan to watch Jason while she and their other son Shaun shops for some shoes. This sounds simple, but every parent knows that children can't stand still and wait so Jason disappears and after some looking Ethan finally finds him close to a clown who sells balloons.
Ethan decides to buy his son a balloon, but of course little Jason leaves his father again just when he's trying to find his wallet. For some reason Jason decides to go outside the mall and when Ethan finally sees him poor Jason gets run over by a car. Two years pass and we get to learn that Jason died which made the Mars family seperate. During a day in the park with Shaun, Ethan blacks out and finds himself alone in a dark street. His quickly runs back to his house and finds out that his son have gone missing.
The city have recently had a couple of murders of young boys and everyone suspect that it's the serial killer known as the Origami Killer who has kidnapped Shaun. Just when Ethan already is a trainwreck, he gets a letter from someone who says he has to pass 5 trials in order to save his son. Even if Ethan got no idea who this person is, he still decides to do this tasks, since he obviously got not faith in that the police will handle it.
There are three other characters in this story that will play a big role. One is the private detective Scott Shelby who have says he's been hired by the families of the Origami Killer's victims. He's a pretty stereotype character and his missions are just like you would expect from a private detective. He asks the families if there's something they can tell him that they didn't tell the police, confronts those he thinks are suspected e.c.t.
The third character is the F.B.I agent Norman Jayden. He has been sent to this city to investigate what is really happening and why the local police can't catch this Origami Killer. He got an interesting tool called the ARI which allows him to investigate items and crime scenes by creating a virtual reality of everything. This does however come with a downside as this does damage his brain just like drugs and the tool has also turned him into a drug addict.
The last character is Madison Paige. She's a journalist who is having insomnia and is very afraid that someone will come in to her apartment and murder her, so she stays at a motel from time to time because only then will she be able to sleep. She notices Ethan one day just outside her room and quickly gets more and more interesting in him, and needs to nurse him back to health from time to time. The more time she spends with Ethan the more interesting she becomes with this case and decides to do some investigation on her own.
I usually don't bother to go to much into detail with the plot in games, but the plot in this game is actually the game. In every stage in the game you play as a character and can sometimes walk freely and try to talk to a person or searching for items. The control system is a little bit different
than in other games. If a character want to open a door for example, you have to turn the R stick 90 degrees. Sometimes you have to smash one button a couple of times, sometimes you have to hold it down and sometimes you have to press and hold one button and then press another while you are holding down another button.
Even if it's usually pretty clear where you should go next there can be times where you got no idea where to go or if you are just curious what's on your character's mind right now it's possible to hold the L2 button and then read their thoughts. Players who are really interested in this game will get to learn a lot more about these characters if they read their minds.
There are many options in this game that you have to do and some will affect the game. If you read the box cover it even says that you decide which characters will live and which will die. It's possible for a character to get killed during the game and then the game will continue just like in real life, but sadly this is a part where the game promises more than it can handle. It may seems that you can change the story a lot, but for most part it's just small details that makes the changes. I really wish that the game could've completely change depending on what you decided to do, not just make the plot a little bit different.
And even you can't say it's the game's fault because it's a game which focus on plot a lot, the game never gets the same after the first time. Even if it did made me think "what happens if I do this instead of what I did last time" a couple of times it's still not so exciting to watch the same cut-scene over and over again, even if the game got 22 different ending scenes.
There were few games that have gotten me as hooked as Heavy Rain. I actually did play it until I had to go to bed, then started to play the game again the next day until I had finished it, because I couldn't wait to finally catch the Origami Killer. And now that I've finished the game I still think a lot about the characters. But I wish that there where even more things that you could do to change the story, maybe the plot could've changed with the right choices that you all of a sudden had to hide more from the law as Ethan and had to try and find him as Norman? Still it's an excellent game that almost got a 10, but I feel that even if it's awesome it could have been a little bit more interactive, then it would've been one of my favourite games of all time.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Heavy Rain (EU, 02/26/10)
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