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Heavy Rain review


Heavy Rain
Developer: Quantic Dream. Publisher: Sony
Platforms: PlayStation 3
Rating: Mature Release Date: 02.23.10

 
Amidst the slew of recently released, high-octane, action-packed titles like Mass Effect 2, Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted 2, Sony's new PlayStation 3 exclusive, Heavy Rain, is definitely an anomaly.

 Similar to Quantic Dream's past project, Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain doesn't focus on huge explosions, online multiplayer or intense shootouts. In fact, it has almost none of the conventional staples of most modern video game blockbusters. Instead, Heavy Rain dedicates itself to one thing only: taking the delicate art of storytelling and adding a dynamic, interactive and cinematic twist the likes of which gamers have seldom seen before.

Heavy Rain's storyline strategically borrows from Hollywood horror movies and crime thrillers like Se7en and Saw to create an emotionally powerful, suspenseful narrative that will keep gamers hooked once it gains its momentum. A murderer known as the Origami Killer has been abducting and murdering children, leaving behind their corpses with a folded paper bird and an orchid, and it’s up to you to solve the case and identify the culprit.

The story unfolds through the perspective of four characters. There's a FBI agent with a drug addiction, a photographer, a weary private detective and a distraught father whose son might be the latest victim of the Origami Killer. Even though the storylines periodically intersect, each one is distinctly different and makes their own unique contribution to the progressively evolving tale.

The plot is like a huge puzzle. Individually, the fragmented pieces are somewhat incoherent, but once they slowly start coming together, everything becomes crystal clear.

How these pieces fall into place, however, is largely up to you. You'll constantly be making decisions throughout the game. Many of them, regardless of how large or small they may seem at the time, can have drastic repercussions. Allow a criminal to escape, drop a bottle of wine or fail to solve a clue, and the consequences will be glaringly evident either right away or later on in the game.

Though you'll spend more time watching Heavy Rain than actually controlling your character, the knowledge that every choice you make actually impacts events and influences which of the game's multiple endings you get helps immerse you in the action.

The story does start off painfully slow, and it's not until a few hours in does it really gets its hooks in. Once it does, though, it doesn't let go until the credits roll around 10-12 hours later. Every second in between is a roller coaster of a ride. There's emotionally charged, dramatic monologues, brutal fist fights, adrenaline pumping chases and a fair share of mind warping twists and turns that will keep you thoroughly engaged. If you enjoy a good mystery story, Heavy Rain definitely delivers.

The gameplay in Heavy Rain is reminiscent of point-and-click adventures with a healthy dose of the full motion video based games for the Sega CD. You navigate your character around their setting and obey various button prompts when they appear on screen to begin conversations, interact with the environment or trigger cinematic, quick-time events.

Once an event begins, another series of commands appear on screen which you'll have to input in a timely and accurate fashion.

For instance, walking up to a refrigerator will cause a "left arrow" to appear on screen. Tilt your right joystick to the right, and your character will open the refrigerator. Alternately, in the middle of a fist fight, pressing "X" at the right moment will tell your character will parry a punch. Fail to hit the button though, and your opponent will slug you in the stomach.

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