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Heavy Rain PS3 Review

09/08/2010 Family Family Gamer Review
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Heavy Rain PS3

Heavy Rain




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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Soulful Gamer (PS3)
Scared Gamer (PS3)
Considered Gamer (PS3)
Reporting Gamer (PS3)
Podcast (PS3)
Novel Gamer (PS3)
Soundtrack Gamer (OST)

Heavy Rain PS3 is a remarkable achievement, although one that could have been so much more convincing. Dwarfed by its own expectations, there needed to be more humanity and acting going on for this to work. But in spite it all this is a very special game.

Heavy Rain is becoming the poster child for story telling in games. But while I found the experience as a whole moving, uncomfortable and nerve wracking, this still felt like the first baby steps towards creating something genuinely meaningful for me.

The interactions worked well enough for me. They didn't cause me problems, or distract from the action. Apart, perhaps, from one or two moments when the limits of my physical investigations reminded me I was stuck inside a point and click adventure.

But the writing and voice work was laughable. By turns unbelievable, stilted, repetitious and dry. I'd felt like this before watching the more recent Star Wars films. All the elements are there for a great movie, but it simply lacked that believable humanity I take for granted elsewhere.

This should have made me walk away from Heavy Rain, but it didn't. The story, agenda, camera work and visuals were enough to keep me playing. That and the knowledge that I'd be able to get through it in around ten hours.

By the end of the experience I was quite attached to Heavy Rain and had all but forgiven any of its shortcomings.

As I played, the problems of voice and tone were lessened as the story took hold. Playing through some scenes was personally painful - in an intended fashion. I'm not giving away too much (spoilers) to talk about the scene near the beginning of the game where you loose your son. I had to swear out loud a number of times to relieve the tension. And this was in spite of an incredibly unbelievable loop track of the character called Shaun.

Playing on, I realised that I had a real effect on the outcome of the story. Not only who survived but the route by which they travelled. I had that Mass Effect feeling when I realised my experience was quite unlike many of my friends. I missed people they had long conversation with, and they skipped scenes that were key for my protagonists.

By the end of the experience I was quite attached to Heavy Rain and had all but forgiven any of its shortcomings. But then I watched an extra, and was struck again by how much better things could be. The clip in question is the spoof interview for a part if the game - all recreated in engine.

The monologue of the applicant was far more engaging, moving and believable than anything that had made it into the game itself.

The monologue of the applicant was far more engaging, moving and believable than anything that had made it into the game itself. Maybe it was simply that there was no interactive in this clip or maybe they could dictate the story. Whatever had created this quality though, was failed to be tapped into for the game proper.

This is where Heavy Rain leaves me. It proves that video games have the potential to tackle big stories and prolonged tales. These tools in the hands of someone who has something compelling to say (for me this is David Simons and The Wire territory) and who can get their actors to deliver, could result in something very exciting indeed. To quote Mr Beebe from Room with a View, "If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her".

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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