Monday, March 15, 2010

Heavy Rain (PS3) review

The game begins with Ethan Mars, he's happily married and have two sons. One day when he and his family is at the mall, Ethan loses track of one of his sons, Jason, in the crowd. Ethan searches in panic after his son, he will soon find him outside across the street. Jason sees his father and runs out into the street without looking, Ethan sees a car and realizes what's about to happen and jumps to try to save him from the oncoming car. Jason is killed, while Ethan is injured and falls into a coma for six months. Two years after the accident, Ethan is suffering from depression, a fear of crowds, and blackouts that last for several hours. He and his wife have separated, and his remaining son, Shaun, is distant with him. While at a park with Shaun, Ethan has another blackout, and wakes to find Shaun missing.

When I first took control of Ethan Mars, in the beginning of the game, I felt that it was very familiar to Fahrenheit, the controls are similar, you can investigate most of the things in the environment. You can take a shower, brush your teeth, shave, get dressed, go outside, you can basically go anywhere in the house. This video game has a unique control scheme. You can use the analog sticks to open or close something or press the buttons that are appearing on the screen. You'll also have to use the SixAxis to shake or move the controller in different directions. If you want to walk you have to hold the R2 button and then steer the head with the left analog stick, a bit like a driving game. When you press the L2 button you will see the characters' thoughts, then you just have to press one of the buttons that appear above his head to hear what he's thinking. There are a lot of quick time events in this game, you have to press the correct buttons in time when they appear on the screen. I think the quick time events will make you pay attention more, it will make your heart rise and give you a feeling of panic because you can't miss pressing any button, or else it's game over. I also like that you can ask many questions, just like in Fahrenheit, you'll experience different situations depending on which questions you ask. You will get used to the controls really fast, it's basically pretty easy.

This video game has the most realistic facial animations I've ever seen, you can really see what the characters are feeling. I think it's really important to be able to see the facial expressions of each character, especially in a video game that's all about making you feel something. You often hear that you can see what a person is feeling just by looking at their eyes, you can do that in Heavy Rain. The eyes of the characters move just like you would expect them to, they look at the environment and are never at the same position. You can see the sadness in their eyes and that's amazing, it's done perfectly. One thing I think is cool is the loading screen, you will see the character that you're about to play looking around, this happens each time you start a new chapter or just loading the game you played earlier. You will get a great close up of the character, it has a lot of awesome details that are really astonishing.

The characters you see in the game are digital copies of the real actors doing them. The faces are just like the actors with few differences. Also, the movement of the characters in Heavy Rain are done by the actors and of course the voices. And I think the voice actors in this game are really amazing. So everything, you see and hear are done by real people and that makes the characters in the game even more unique and believable.

You will play four different characters, and they all have different personalities and background. Ethan Mars is an architect, and he is one of the main characters in the game. Madison Paige is a photojournalist living alone in the city. Suffering from chronic insomnia, she occasionally checks into motels, as they are the only place she can properly sleep. She eventually finds herself involved in the latest Origami Killer case, conducting her own investigations. Norman Jayden is an FBI profiler sent to support the police force with their investigation into the Origami Killer. He is also struggling with an addiction to the drug triptocaine. The fourth and final character is Scott Shelby, and he is a retired police officer, currently working as a private investigator. On behalf of the previous victims' families, he is conducting his own investigation into the Origami Killer.

Heavy Rain has stunning graphics that really stand out from any other video game I've played. The beginning of Heavy Rain is very bright and happy, the sun shines outside, you're happy with your wife and two sons. Everything falls apart when your oldest son dies, the rain and darkness come, it's pouring down. This game has a great atmosphere that you almost can touch, it's that powerful. Everything is gray, the sky outside is dark, the rain is pouring down, you can see how the ground is wet and there are puddles of water everywhere. You can see how the raindrops are going down the window and how the little light that is outside is shining through the windows with particles of dust floating in the air.

There are a lot of different environments and locations that will give you goosebumps, an abandoned power plant, a burned out apartment, a sleazy Motel, Ethan Mars empty living room and a crime scene with a dead boy to mention some. A location in the game that is very cool is the night club, there are hundreds of people dancing at the same time, with loud music playing and lights flashing in different colors while you try to go through the crowd. When you play the FBI agent Norman Jayden you will be able to use something called ARI (Added Reality Interface), they're glasses that let you investigate the environment for clues. It analyzes DNA, fingerprints and other things in the area, and at the same time it will give you information about the subject in a window that only the one who wears the glasses can see. When you go back to your office to go through the evidence that you collected you will be able to pull up folders in front of you and move and touch them with a special glove that Norman is wearing. You can also change the work environment around you. Some of the places you can choose to be in are: under water, on Mars and the forest. I think ARI is really cool, and it's the only thing in Heavy Rain that's futuristic and sci-fi, but it's not too far from what could exist in a near future.

The soundtrack in Heavy Rain is really good, it really captures the emotion in the game and enhances the experience with its sad tones. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and is composed by Normand Corbeil, who previously joined game director David Cage and film composer Angelo Badalamenti on the production of Quantic Dream's paranormal thriller Fahrenheit. The storyline of Heavy Rain involves several central protagonists who each has their own distinct musical themes. For Ethan, they focused on the piano. The theme is something very human, fragile but strong at the same time. For Madison there is a chamber orchestra with a smaller setup, both strong and emotional. Jayden is an investigator and researcher in a sad and crazy world, so his theme is dark. There it’s the opposite, a symphony orchestra. Shelby’s theme is drawing on French film noire from the 60’s: cop stories, a bit jazzy, brass and flutes.

Heavy Rain has a very touching story that will bring you to tears. It's also a very exciting story that will make your heart pump. It's like a movie that I'm controlling with my personal ending. And that's what makes Heavy Rain so unique, you'll create your own story, because every player will make different decisions and that will lead to one of the games many different endings. The Characters can also die if you fail in doing something that will result in the death of your character, and the game just continues without that specific character, that's something I've never seen in a video game before. Throughout the game, you will be forced to do many difficulty decisions. One of them is when Ethan is forced to cut of his finger, I really felt the panic he must have felt and how many thoughts that went through his head, and the cool thing is that I actually could see his thoughts tremble around his head, thanks to the thought button. One thing I really liked with Fahrenheit was that you could play the flashbacks, and I really hoped that Heavy Rain would do the same, and it did. The flashback gave me more depth to the story, and I learn more about the character. So when I saw that I was going to play a flashback scene, I really felt that Heavy Rain was complete, and that met my last expectation for this video game.

David Cage has said that there's not going to be a sequel, so they will release different DLC episodes from each character, a good choice I think. It will add more depth to the story, and you will get answers to unsolved questions. The episodes are called "The Heavy Rain Chronicles" and I've already played the first one called "The Taxidermist", which came with the special edition of the game. I liked the first episode very much, and I'm looking forward to future episodes.

Overall: David Cage has really done what he promised, to make you feel something. I can really relate to the characters, especially Ethan Mars. He was a happy family man, I played with my kids, I kissed my wife, I comforted my youngest son when he was sad, and I felt all does feelings he felt. That's what's cool with Heavy Rain and what I expected to feel and experience during this adventure. Don't get stuck playing the same kind of video games, try Heavy Rain and you will get a trill ride of feelings, awesome graphics, music, great voice actors, a touching story and an atmosphere that you almost can touch. Because this video game is truly a masterpiece that you must experience.

Review: Heavy Rain (PS3) XXXXX [5/5].

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