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Heavy Rain
Playstation 3

Reviewed on: Playstation 3

Quantic Dream
Publisher: SCEA
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

There’s been a long standing debate as to why video games aren’t as respected by the general public as their older media-brother; movies. Movies can be anything from kids fluff, to blockbuster action to art. Video games on the other hand are just that – games.  I’ve always said that the reason for this is that film directors do a great job at connecting an audience with their characters, something that video game developers have arguably struggled with doing for decades.

For better or worse, Heavy Rain is unlike anything you’ve played before – or likely will again. At its best, Quantic Dream’s crime-thriller is an intense and gripping tale that will stay with you long after its completion. At its worst, it’s a predictable, convoluted technical mess that will make you crazy with frustration. Either way, it’s a risky and experimental title that needs to at least be experienced by everyone.

Heavy Rain is not a video game, it’s an interactive experience. Rather than controlling a character through the game’s world, it feels more like you’re guiding the entire world. Throughout the course of the eight to ten hour game, you’ll control four different characters – architect Ethan Mars, journalist Madison Paige, FBI Agent Norman Jayden and private detective Scott Shelby. Though at the beginning, the stories of these individuals may seem random - -they soon become intertwined in the search for The Origami Killer. The key to the game is that how they intertwine is up to you and your decisions. Now I know you’ve heard that a lot with recent games, but Heavy Rain takes the morale choices mechanic to a new high – every one of your actions has an effect on the constantly changing plot. This is both one of the game’s best features – and its worst.

"...these seemingly mundane moments do a great job creating a lasting bond with the characters."


In Heavy Rain, you’re going to solve crimes, pursue leads and face desperation; you’ll also brush your teeth, feed babies and set out dinner plates and yes – you’ll have to act all of them out. The majority of the game’s action heavy sequences and some of the more mundane play out via quick time events. You’ll be asked to match button sequences and directional stick movements in order to keep the story moving. Sometimes this works well, especially in intense moments like fist fights and chases, but it’s hard to be enthralled when you’re changing diapers. Luckily, the majority of the game is the former.  To their credit though, even these seemingly mundane moments do a great job creating a lasting bond with the characters.

This is undoubtedly Heavy Rain’s greatest strength – it’s one of the most intimate and involved stories I’ve ever seen in a game. To put it into perspective, remember back to how you felt when Aeris died in Final Fantasy VIIHeavy Rain is filled with moments that blow that one out of the water. These moments will shock you, draw you in and make you want to keep playing until the end.  Incredibly, even key characters can die. That being said, you’ll be able to telegraph some of the game’s key moments, including the ending way before they happen.  That being said, the game’s story changes with your actions and thanks to a handy chapter select screen, you’ll be able to play out other scenarios easily, but you’re more than likely not going to want to. The game’s minor details may have changed, but the key moments remain largely the same and lose their muster the second go-round.

There are also some pretty frustrating plot holes in Heavy Rain that seem lazier than they do careless.  Throughout the game we’re supposed to believe that this Origami Killer is a city-wide problem on an epidemic scale – then why don’t the police care to notice even the biggest breaks in the case?  There’s major plot threads that go completely unexplained through most choices (one with Ethan is incredibly confusing). There are also a number of cliché and groan-enducingly stereotypical characters that don’t seem to fit with the rest of this mostly believable story.

"...the controls are unreliable at best..."


If there’s one thing that makes me incredibly frustrated with a game; it’s an uncessecarily complicated control scheme – and Heavy Rain is one of the worst I’ve ever seen.  To walk..I repeat…to walk, you have to hold down the R2 button and then move the control stick. Really? I have to go through all of that just to move my character? The reason for this is that a lot of the quicktime events require you to move both of the thumbsticks. Why couldn’t this have been done the other way around? Why can’t I just walk with the thumbstick and hold down the R2 button for the quicktime events?  To make matters worse, the controls are unreliable at best and you’ll miss more than your fair share of chances for plot twists as a result.

There are also a lot of technical issues that if they remain unaddressed, will surely hinder your enjoyment of the game. The video stutters if it’s not freezing entirely and despite a lengthy mandatory release date patch, the game will also randomly destroy save files, forcing players to start over.

Both the developers of Heavy Rain and the majority of the game’s voice talent are French, but the characters are supposed to be American – and it shows. While the game’s soundtrack is done remarkably well, the voice acting is laughably bad.  As a result, we get characters who sound like they’re attempting to pull off American accents, but fail miserably. Remember the bit on an episode of Family Guy where they make fun of Liam Neeson’s horrid American accent? Yeah, it’s like that.

Much like its audio, Heavy Rain’s visuals are a mixed bag as well. The facial animations of the characters in the game are some of the best to be seen in gaming, and the environments are incredibly well done but sadly not every aspect t of the game looks this well. Hair and clothes in particular are animated quite horribly – with the latter looking like it’s pasted on the game’s models rather than looking like it should. In particular, there’s a scene where Ethan is just getting out of the shower, and the underwear he puts on looks more like a black bar than anything cloth.

Despite its technical and mechanical issues, Heavy Rain is a gripping and intense interactive media experiment that should be experienced. It may not be the next step in the video game industry’s growth, but it is a step in the right direction. 




There are no cheats for Heavy Rain – giving it a perfect Cheat Factor. Wait - -what?

If the developers included any cheats in Heavy Rain, it would seriously hinder the experience you’re supposed to have playing the title.  There are no characters to upgrade, no weapons or costumes to unlock and skipping any part of the game will result in a very confusing lapse in story. Trust me; you don’t want any cheats for this one.



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