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Prepare for a unique experience with this game as it is not like many others. If I had to compare it to anything else, I'd probably say Farhenheit or Shenmue as there is a heavy emphasis on role playing and cinematics. Heavy Rain puts you in the role of four characters, a loving father, a journalist, an FBI profiler, and a private investigator. The game plays out like a crime drama, there is a serial killer on the loose called "The Origami Killer," as he leaves a paper origami figure next to his victims. The killer murders young children as he gives their father a chance to save them but only by completing a number of gruelling trials. He does this during heavy rainfall, hence the name of the title.
Why do only bad things happen to me?
The choices you make throughout the game allow the story to play out in the manner you so choose. You'll enter the role of a character and be thrown into an environment such as a crime scene, a household or a nightclub. From there you can interact with objects in the environment from cups of coffee, computers, juggling balls to dead bodies. Heavy Rain uses a gameplay method popularized by Sega called "Quick Time Events" or "QTE." On screen as you interact with the environment, you will be prompted to push the controller sticks in the right direction or pressing and holding certain buttons when prompted. For something like picking a picture frame off a shelf, it would normally be a quick flick the right stick. For something like playing with toy swords with Ethan's sons, you would have to press the buttons in the right order.
The drugs don't work...
This is unlike when grappling with an enemy in a cutscene sequence where you would have to rapidly tap the 'X' button. Quick time events also occur in cutscene sequences as well, for example when being chased you must push the buttons in the right order. This will allow your character to interact with the environment and if you fail to do this then the character will fail to perform on screen. Some of these sequences can be difficult and players will be disappointed if they do not get the outcome they want, but it does allow for replay value which I think players will want to do. The game also utilise the Playstation 3's motion controller, for example when driving you may be prompted to tilt the controller either left or right. This cost me a few decisions in the game as I wasn't used to using this feature, to get the most out of the game I would advise turning this feature off at the beginning when you are given the choice.
There's always a choice...
The game uses a lot of clichés from police officers who couldn't careless about their job to alcoholic private investigators. This is good as it allows the player to have a certain familiarity with the characters. When I was playing as the good father, I felt a familiarity with him and picked up on his traits easily. It was a good use of stereotypes and puts everything in place within the player's head. The characters are beautifully rendered and based on real actors. My favourite character had to be Norman Jayden, his gameplay played out like a CSI episode, allowing you to interact with the environment. He also comes across as a hard-nosed FBI Agent, his New York accent seems to make him more distinct than the other three characters.
I need a hero!
When you first complete game, you are given a sneak peak look into how they are rendered to produce the on screen product. The environment are numerous and detailed, from an elite businessman's mansion, to a nightclub to a crime scene, there was no location that I did not want to explore. How you interact with these places will move the story in a certain way and will lead to a non linear ending which will change as you change the way you play. You'll want to play through it more than once, the ending I got first time was quite tragic and only common sense stops me from putting the game straight back on and playing through it again. The characters are all very interesting and very flawed which gives you a number of red herring to lead you off in the wrong direction to who the killer is. Everybody seems to be a suspect and this makes for an ending that will blow you away. I found the game very eerily close to real life with the social situations, the crimes being done and the way characters interacted with each other. This gave it a sense of authenticity and I literally could not stop playing it, very addictive and immersive at the same time.
What a wonderful world!
Which brings me to the games one and only flaw, it's too short, I completed it in about 5 days, probably took me about 10 hours, but I'm keen to play it again to experience multiple endings and also see a few alternative outcomes. 4 out of 5, only thing that stops it being a 5 is the length. Awesome graphics, awesome gameplay, and not like many other games.
Awesome game, 4/5.