Heavy Review

I beat Heavy Rain at like 2 AM last night. And it was good.

I really enjoyed Quantic Dream’s previous game, Farenheit (“Indigo Prophecy” in some regions), despite it having some pretty major flaws. For Heavy Rain, I was cautiously optimistic, but it ended up being a really enjoyable experience.

There are still flaws, though! As with Farenheit, there’s a totally uncalled for and horribly emotionless (despite them trying to make it seem passionate) sex scene that feels disturbing. The development of the romantic emotions are handled much better in Heavy Rain, but it still felt odd and out of place, like they HAD to squeeze in a sex scene somewhere.

My biggest complaint is probably the character control. Instead of moving with the left analogue stick like in any game designed by a sane person, you push the analogue stick in the direction you wish to turn your character, then hold R2 to walk. Why?
And because it’s a third person view game, the camera sucks, as always. My character tells me he wants to go up the stairs, and I spend a minute waking into cupboards and sinks, arms limply at the sides. I’m walking behind couches and stepping up and down the same small ledge three times while the non-player characters in the scene just smile politely.

And then there are plot holes the size of the moon.

But I loved the game. There’s a lot of potential in what Quantic Dream are doing here. It’s a lot more immersive than regular movies, as everything you do actually has concequences, and you really get inside the heads of the characters. The action scenes are extremely rewarding when you know that if you die, you die, and the game will still continue with that character left out. There’s no game over that asks you if you want to try again, it just moves on with the story.

The plot is a pretty standard feeling murder mystery, thankfully with a lot less nonsensical plot twists than Farenheit. I didn’t figure out who was the killer until very late in the game, and it actually has an emotional impact on me when I did. There are some hints in the game, so you can figure it out, but some of the red herrings they added to throw people off mostly just feel like extremely unlikely coincidences.

The graphics are gorgeous, especially the loading screens where you just see an extreme closeup of the face of the character you’re about to play. You can see individual pores in the face, and Hayden even has a little pimple on his chin. I’ve never seen real time graphics that good in a game before. In the game itself, things obviously aren’t that detailed, but even then it sometimes looks good enough that I almost think it’s live action. I remember especially thinking one of the characters in the night club looked like it was a real person sitting there.
Unfortunately, the graphics only really look good when there’s a lot of light and shadow to show off the nice shading techniques they’ve got going on. In scenes without shadows (some overcast outdoor scenes, a bedroom scene), everything ends up looking flat and dull.

As a final word, the voice acting.. It’s basically random. For half the characters, it’s excellent. It fits the character, it’s got a lot of emotional depth, and it feels right. For the other half, it’s crap.

Best part: “I killed him!”. I felt the same shock and remorse as my character did.
Worst part: The Shelby action hero sequence made me laugh.
Score: 4/5

posted 13 years ago