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Heavy Rain Review (PS3 Exclusive)

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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Heavy Rain (PS3)

Heavy Rain (PS3)

© Sony

The Bottom Line

Heavy Rain is a gorgeous next gen adventure game that tells a dark and fascinating tale of a child murderer. While the productions values are top notch, the game frequently feels like a very slow rhythm game (Adventure Hero? Story Story Revolution?), instead of an adventure game. I know many people who claim it's the most impressive game they've seen in years, and I know many of those folks will never see the end of Heavy Rain.
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Pros

  • Simply put, one of the most beautiful games on any system, ever
  • Heavy Rain has a fascinating story, it is dark, chilling and better than most modern thriller films
  • The sheer volume of art, dialog, and animation is this game is hard not to be impressed by
  • At times Heavy Rain feels more like a good film than a game
  • Heavy Rain deserves props for boldly taking on adult content in a meaningful way

Cons

  • Heavy Rain is too filmic, one has to wonder why they didn't make an animated film instead of a game
  • Wonderful story aside, Heavy Rain feels more like playing simon says than a deep adventure game
  • I still don't understand why I have to hold a button to walk, and why I can't run at will
  • Heavy Rain is simply to slow to enjoy thoroughly
  • Heavy Rain's attempt to create interactive fiction compromises it as a game

Description

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • ESRB Rating: Mature (violence, sex... mature content abounds)
  • Genre: Adventure/Interactive Fiction
  • Platforms: PlayStation 3 Exclusive

Guide Review - Heavy Rain Review (PS3 Exclusive)

Heavy Rain is a very difficult game to evaluate. I enlisted the help of my game design students to help me understand how a game can be so frustrating, and yet so appealing. The consensus seems to be that it is truly an amazing piece of work, but that we all wish it had been applied to a different genre of game.

Despite attempts by the developer to describe Heavy Rain as "interactive fiction" let's be honest, it's an adventure game. Heavy Rain may be an adventure game on a scale never before seen, but an adventure game it is, and, for better or worse, adventure games have pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Sure, there are some out there, but it's more of a niche market, usually distributed online, say via the PSN, Xbox Live, WiiWare, Steam, etc.

There are lots of arguments as to why adventure games are not as big as they once were, but I think it's both because they lost their monopoly on storytelling and they simply play to slow. When games like BioShock or Dragon Age (FPS and RPG) can deliver story, character, and manage to do so surrounded by better game mechanics, well, one asks why was so much put into Heavy Rain?

Let's get some of it's positive attributes out of the way. Heavy Rain is truly one of the most beautiful games on any console system, every. The art direction and sheer volume of near photo-realistic content is staggering. The dialog is both interesting and very well acted. There's a reason this game has already been optioned for a film, it is deep and gorgeous. The story of the Origami killer, and the characters surrounding it are fascinating. Heavy Rain comes very close to being a film, and that's where it fails.

Heavy Rain is so filmic that it gets in the way of being a game. While it may be "realistic" to have to walk around the office to go to a filing cabinet, it's not exactly fun. Especially since, again, realistically you'd walk, not run there. There is a lot of walking in Heavy Rain. A lot of slow, plodding about in most every scene. Sure, games like Silent Hill also have lots of walking, but you always know what you are walking towards. Such is not the case in Heavy Rain. Rather than a game, Heavy Rain is a very long movie that requires you to use context sensitive actions (some are using "quick time events," but being that the developer uses the former term, and the latter sounds too much like an Apple product, I think "context sensitive" is more useful) to have the scene proceed.

One doesn't play Heavy Rain so much as experience it. It is an amazing experience, but at no time do you feel like you are directing the action. And while there may be consequences for failing context sensitive actions, you don't feel like you've figured anything out when you do get them right.

In the end Heavy Rain feels like a next-gen version of Dragon's Lair, very pretty, for many quite fun, but not much of an actual "video game."

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