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Fahrenheit is the game that probably paved the way for cinematic choice based games like Heavy Rain. This action/adventure game may have been missed by many PlayStation 2 and Xbox owners. The game actually won several awards and was later published for the PC. The game goes by two names; the first is Fahrenheit which is because of the drastic weather changes during the course of the game. The alternate name was Indigo Prophecy which was due to the supernatural occurrences of a dark foretold event within the game's story.
Not Me Officer!
It can be described as third-person RPG with multiple paths which lead to different endings depending on the player's choices. Quantic Dream and Atari marketed the game as an interactive movie, billing it 'unlike other games' which is pretty accurate once you have played it. Before it, I can only find similarities in the likes of Shenmue released for the Dreamcast and Xbox.
Murder Most Foul
I played the PlayStation 2 version and was really impressed with the animation. The game environments are incredibly detailed and envelopes the player into the characters. The graphics really do stand up by today's standards which may be a pleasant surprise if you pick it up cheap. The game is set in New York where numerous murders are happening in bizarre circumstances. Regular citizens are brutally killing innocents in what appears to be a ritual sacrifice. You initially take control of one of the murderers, an IT manager named Lucas who becomes an unfortunate victim of possession by the 'Oracle.'
The Unfortunate Victims...
This leads Lucas to carve weird symbols into his forearms before stabbing someone to death in the restroom of a diner. Lucas, having no control over of what he was doing, flees the area; leaving you to take control of the other two characters in this tale, two New York police detectives, Carla and Tyler.
"I'm the black sheep."
The characters are all likable even if Lucas is a bit of an oddball, he appears to be the dark sheep of the three. Downtrodden, depressed, and a bit of a loner, he is probably the character under the most stress in the game which brings me to the first element of keeping your character alive. Throughout the game, as you interact with environments, you must monitor your characters stress level. If you do not keep an eye on it, the characters will commit suicide. After a scenario, you will be thrust into the environment to investigate and look around. This is really fun and opens a window into the characters' psyche. Personally, I enjoyed looking around all three apartments of the game's main characters. They're all interesting and as you progress you will get more background about them. Tyler is madly in love with his girl, Carla is a workaholic detective, and Lucas appears to be in the middle of a breakup, a placid man who was raised on a military base. The environments are numerous; they range from murder scenes, police stations, characters apartments to cemeteries, houses, hospitals, and shops.
Good cop, bad cop?
The other element of the game and probably what Quantic Dream is now known for is the 'quick time events.'
You will be presented with scenarios where a character needs to react quickly, this could be something as easy as playing basketball or as hard as fast-talking a police officer. The player will have to flick the right and left analog sticks in the correct direction and at the correct time as indicated by an on-screen prompt. It can be pretty tricky at times and the events can pop up at random. Lucas will be getting interviewed by a detective and he'll have a terrifying vision of a demon.
There are many action set pieces also from one on one fights to breathtaking chase scenes. The player sometimes will be consumed with concentration, trying to hit the right direction in the QTE that he might miss an impressive set piece in the action; which unfortunately is one of the game's flaws, as the button prompts are in the middle of the screen covering up the event. Quantic Dream fixed this when they made Heavy Rain, as they made the prompt the focus of the action.
Getting Your Hands Dirty...
The story is a supernatural tale and will lead you down the occult path, speaking with mediums as well as some odd individuals who crop up in weird places. Another part of the game will have you search an area within an allotted time. This could be to hide evidence from the police or save somebody who appears to be in danger. This will put you into panic mode, I found myself rushing around not thinking straight which did add to the excitement of the game. The only bad thing about that is it will be game over if you do not complete your objective in the allotted time. Quantic Dream has covered all scenarios and if it does turn out to be game over, you will hear a voice over from Lucas explaining what happened next. It's pretty funny at times, you will see him get sectioned in a mental health prison or go down for murder. Even the worst might happen where he dies and ceases to exist, but it shows what a thorough job Quantic Dream did when making this game. Another element of the game is the stealth missions, you will flash back to Lucas' childhood at his mother and father's military base. Being a child of a rough generation, Lucas and his brother sneak out into the base to have a look around, this will have you evading soldiers to reach what they are guarding. It's a nice twist on the story and the gameplay in Fahrenheit is pretty varied. It had me on the edge of my seat right to the end of the game. I believe players will really enjoy playing as the New York detectives as well. It allows you to be more intrusive in the environment and you will really feel like you are examining a crime scene.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and looked forward to it when you swapped control of characters. Players will get to switch between characters at different times and different decisions can lead to the death of certain people in the story and a different outcome. Resident Evil fans may like some of the puzzle integrated into the game, a particularly hard one is looking through an old bookstore for some hidden literature. Not as hard as in Resident Evil but very similar in that it will make you think.
This non-linear gameplay can be frustrating at times, someone dies who you wanted to save and the story takes on a completely different course. I can see why the developers did it though as it gives the game replay value; I've done that twice now and each time the storyline took a different path. The game is definitely for adults, it deals with very mature content in regards to murder, the occult, and sex. There are a few adult scenes in the game that children shouldn't see. The mature violence does add to the game's appeal, unfortunately, we as a society are curious about the forbidden. The game boasts a good soundtrack as well, especially when playing as Tyler who seems to be into his 'Motown' records. Gaming fans may even recognise a few of the tracks, I managed to discover a song I liked while playing as Carla.
New York's Finest
The game is excellent and although quite short, I believe players will want to go back for more and see a different type of ending. A few glitches here and there, at one point two characters were meant to be talking on screen who just weren't there. The graphics are excellent and the different type of environments to explore make this a unique title. You will probably get it for cheap these days as the game is over ten years old. I'd like to rate this game 3 out of 5, try and pick it up if you can, very original game play.