Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Heavy Rain Review - When gaming meets Cinema

Heavy Rain was released a year or so back and I consider it to be a very special game, its not my favourite game ever but the most unique. In this modern day when games can often feel very similar and generic Heavy Rain did something different and it did it well.
Heavy Rain is where gaming meets cinema and its a hell of a ride!

The game starts slow but draws you into its universe and introduces you to the cast of very like able and believable characters. What appealed to me most when first starting to play the game was how realistic it felt and the way the story and characters are delivered to you. Theres not running around frantically, jumping all over the place and picking up items like other games. You wander through your house interacting with objects giving thoughts and realism to the actions and to alot of people this might seem abit dull, but Heavy Rain isn't about the thrills of other games, its about drawing you into this immerse world and making you believe its real, make you think your watching a film or living it.

The game makes you care about your disconnected son, who still suffers after your wife's death, only to have him kidnapped by the 'Origami Killer'. This is where the story really kicks off and the game readily switches from character to character between chapters, each with their own specific motives for uncovering the Origami Killer. As these separate tales intersect, you spend much of your time methodically probing environments for clues to the killer's identity, controlling one of the four main characters to find items of interest relevant to the case.  

Object interaction employs the right analogue stick to perform movements designed to mimic actions you'd use in real life which adds a subtle layer of immersion to the experience and something I haven't seen done so well in any other game. As the game really starts to bare its teeth with moral choices, it's amazing how effectively these simple directional choices take on truly sickening significance.

The game employs some stunning iinteractive cut-scenes which use an intuitive combination of button presses to reflect your on-screen options and, while many might complain about the lack of interaction in these often superbly-choreographed moments, the fact you're able to almost subliminally influence the outcome of events is quite impressive.

In the first half of the game your choices are relatively unimportant and don't impact the direction of the story but it's in the game's latter half where your decisions really start to matter and it's here that the game impresses with its sense of consequence. Whether the result of genuine deliberation or simple carelessness, your actions start to have significant effects on the story and for the story's outcome. Don't expect all, or indeed any, of your characters to make it through to the finale.

I think Heavy Rain is in a class of it's own. Its deeply compelling and movie like story make the gameplay engaging and interesting. It has stunning graphics and has a truly atmospheric universe. The story's so good you'll probably want to see it again. However, with significant choices mostly limited to the second half of the game, you'll likely exhaust story deviations fairly quick. Heavy Rain’s undoubtedly a sophisticated, fearless and often remarkable piece of entertainment. As a game it's not always successful but, as an experience, it's absolutely unforgettable.


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