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Heavy Rain Review - PS3

7.5
Gameplay: 6 stars 6
Graphics: 8 stars 8
Audio: 10 stars 10
Innovation: 10 stars 10
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Introduction

Video games and cinema have a chequered past. There is yet to truly be a breakaway film adaptation of a video game property, despite the best efforts of the Resident Evil, Silent Hill (underrated) and Prince of Persia franchises. Many games love to advertise themselves as being ‘cinematic’, with the sort of grandeur and scope of classic epic films. But few games, though the tide has started to turn, have honestly attempted to tell the story of a film in a medium where you have a controller in your hand. Into this environment comes Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, an ambitious PS3 exclusive.

Gameplay

I’ll say right here at the beginning that I cannot think of another game I’ve played where my opinions on it have so consistently wavered from one extreme to the other. I’ve played great games. I’ve played mediocre games. I’ve played games that are guilty pleasures, and games worth only bringing out with friends. But Heavy Rain is unique in being so consummately engaging one minute, and bizarrely frustrating the next.

The comparisons one can make with Heavy Rain and a film are different to those made between, say, Gears of War and a film. In the latter the juxtaposition is between the content on display – the aliens, the explosions, the battles – while in the former the analogy goes beyond merely the story and into the production and cinematography behind the proscenium arch. The camera stares at the characters from a distance and is mostly beyond control – a press of L1 merely changes the angle like old Resident Evil games (though is not as static). The chapter-driven story telling is tightly edited, whipping between the converging stories of four people involved in the investigation of the Origami Killer, a serial murderer plaguing the city.

The game is soaked in noir aesthetic, from the very name itself, to the killer’s modus operandi, to the perpetual twilight and femme fatale. Of the twenty-two or so endings, you can be assured that very few are entirely happy. Yes, the intersection of the gaming and filmic worlds results in a product where every action is permanent and multiple outcomes are possible. Less successfully, the game mimics film in separating its high-pressure action scenes with quieter, more personal moments, but I’ll get to that later.

What does all that mean? It means that Heavy Rain is, truly, a game unlike anything you’ve played before. It doesn’t just play differently; it feels different. It is as tense as some of the best thrillers, and asks you to do things you’ve never had to do before in a game. It makes you feel things you’ve never felt before, too. The game starts very slowly. It takes its time establishing its characters as real people, and most notably the relationship between a father and his son. It’s not engrossing and it’s not particularly fun either, but in six hours time when the stakes are higher, it pays off. It’s bold, but I appreciated it.

At this point, it feels ...

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