Heavy Rain was one of the more anticipated titles to be released on the Playstation 3 due to its creativity, and freshness. The game offers a completely different experience, different from anything you’ve ever played. While Heavy Rain has its flaws, it certainly shines throughout the playthrough as well. I plan to keep this review spoiler-free because you do not want to play this game knowing what’s going to happen.
First and foremost, the graphics in Heavy Rain are superb. The level of detail, the appreciation for the little things within your characters face really come through thanks to the folks over at Quantic Dreams. Aside from the level of detailing in things such as clothing and distant objects, the graphics are pretty hefty. Heavy Rain won’t impress you on a level the way Crysis did when it first came about, but it’s pretty damn close for an urban environment. You’ll notice the way raindrops streak down your characters face, and rather than rolling down your eyebrows, they drip. The hairs on the characters chin from an unshaved beard appear about as accurate as possible in the closeups. The eyes are also very well done. Gazing into the characters eyes and appreciating how realistic they appear will not be unusual for the player. The facial expressions created in Heavy Rain are not to be forgotten either. From eyebrow cringes to smile lines when your character laughs, it’s all there.
Heavy Rains uniqueness comes from it’s storytelling. As I’ve said before, it feels like an engaging cinematic experience. The player can control what happens in the game while the scene continues. Button prompts will be occurring throughout these scenes. Most of these button prompts will need to be pressed within a very short time before expiring. I’d say you have about two seconds total per prompt. Each right and wrong decision slightly effects the scene that takes place. That’s right, you can have the worst reflex time in the world, and Heavy Rain will not punish you for it. The scene continues regardless if the player messes up or not. If you happen to miss a prompt or two during a fight or chase scene, the differences will be slight. Perhaps your character gets pushed around into a wall once more, rather than karate-chopping the other guys hand off. (There’s no karate skills ingame) You get the idea. Continue making mistakes, and you will get your butt kicked. Nevertheless, the story continues whether you win the fight or not.
For the most part, these prompts help the player feel as if they are truly influencing the story one way or the other. The actions feel very natural and are well executed. The best part about these prompts is that they will not go away. Trying to hop that tall fence? You’ll need to tap R1 and L1 repeatedly as if you are moving the characters arms yourself, all while holding up on the analog. No need to worry about the complexity, the prompts always appear when they need to and clearly show the player what is needed to be done. The prompts are done a few different ways also. Rather than constantly testing your reaction time, sometimes you need to maneuver your fingers one by one to each prompt and hold it. This can cause your fingers to get twisted. A prompt such as this sequence usually reflects on the difficulty of the situation you are in.
These sequences aren’t always when you expect them. You’ll need to stay on your toes throughout the story because there’s a chance the scene may switch quickly and require you to act accordingly. During these quick events, the story seems to get more intense, and before you know it you just made a decision you regret because you were in the heat of the moment. It isn’t uncommon for the player to be asking themselves if they should of done this, or should of skipped that. These decisions can sometimes come with great consequences if done during important sections of the story.
The control scheme of Heavy Rain fits very nicely. The prompts are an excellent way to help mold and create your own individual stories with quick decisions in hectic situations. The only reason the controls do fit so well is because the story is the main focus. Other things about the prompts you should know, they aren’t always clear. If your character happens to be nervous in the scene, they may become blurry and start shaking all over the screen. This causes the player to really pay attention for them to make the decision they want. My one complaint with the controls would be the movement. In tight areas, you shouldn’t be surprised if your character gets turned around a few times because you couldn’t get to where you wanted to go. This has mostly to do with the camera angles, but a quick press of L1 and you are provided with another angle that usually helps get you out of the sticky situation.
The story in Heavy Rain is straight out of a Hollywood movie. An issue for some people may be that it seems to develop slowly. Heavy Rain takes it’s time introducing the player to the characters, helping the user get accustom to the controls and story around them. The game tries to get the player and characters to feel a connection. Early on you’ll find things are pretty accessible. You are presented with mundane tasks that have no effect whatsoever, such as shaving or drinking orange juice out of the fridge. It appears these were added to either stretch the short amount of gameplay you have, about 9 hours, or make the player feel as if they are really indulged in this new world. Regardless they seem to be time-sinks to me.
Once you get past that initial 2 hour sluggish play, things pick up – and I mean really pick up. You’ve more than likely been introduced to all of the main characters by now, and noticed how they each play a role in the main plot in the story. Slowly things begin to unravel and you are introduced into the heart of the game. The story of the Origami Killer grabs its viewer, and never lets go. Throughout the game you’ll have your suspicions as to who did what, and the game does a great job of trying to assist the player in making these assumptions. Due to this, and the amount of choices you make ingame, it really provides a different experience to all who play. It shouldn’t surprise you if your friend has experienced something you haven’t, or vice versa. The dialogue may differ greatly as well, depending on your decisions. For the most part though, you’ll find yourself playing through most of the same sequences if you do decide to play again from the beginning.
The decisions you make through this hectic story ultimately have an effect on how the ending is played out for your viewing pleasure. Yes, there are a few different endings. If you do decide to go for a second playthrough, keep in mind things do not seem to be too much different until you get relatively close to the ending.
Unfortunately for Heavy Rain, you will notice some places where they seemed to not pay as much attention to as others. For instance, some of the characters with little role in the story do not appear as polished as the main characters when it comes to speaking, and lip syncing. The voice acting is great as is the dialogue, but some of the characters accents do come out when they really shouldn’t. With so much emphasis on the voice acting throughout the game, you’ll notice small issues as this – since the player is focused on it constantly. The music in Heavy Rain is very well done. As an overlooked feature in most games, I suggest players pay good attention to how the music ingame helps set the tone and mood for the climatic scenes.
The replayability in Heavy Rain leaves something to be desired. It may just be me as I tend to not replay offline stories more than once. The game tries to offer you as much as it can to replay the story. They even try encouraging you by allowing the player to replay each individual chapter throughout the story, which is very nice. Aside from going back to the beginning of the story, and making all of the opposite decisions you originally made, which does help you unlock more trophies if you’re into that sort of thing, I don’t see the real replay value in Heavy Rain. I personally would love to see each ending, but that may take me forever.
Overall, Heavy Rain is an amazing title with a captivating story. It will grab you by the collar and swing you around as if you were on an emotional rollercoaster until the very end, after the initial 2 hours anyways. The game is about giving the player control, to feel the successes and consequences they make throughout the story. You get a feel for each character, their pain, their anguish, and the reasoning behind their motives. Heavy Rain is practically asking the player “What would you do” if put in these circumstances, and you may be surprised at the results you choose. I suggest everyone who is looking for a great experience to try out Heavy Rain, as it does indeed live up to expectations.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com