‘Heavy Rain’ Catches PlayStation by Storm

Oswaldo Diaz

After a much-anticipated wait, developer Quantic Dreams released the critically acclaimed, “Heavy Rain” on Feb. 23. The PlayStation exclusive title revolves around the lives of four seemingly unrelated characters who are somehow connected to the murders of the “Origami Killer.”

“Heavy Rain” is not your ordinary video game. It has no fail screens, no game-over and there is no right or wrong way of playing it. The story unfolds depending on the decisions you make with each of the characters in the game.

Unlike “Mass Effect 2” where these decisions are clearly either positive or negative, “Heavy Rain” runs the whole spectrum from positive to negative responses. This gives the player plenty of conversation options and story paths each character can take.

This concept may defy key aspects of most video games, let me give you an example. After leaving the apartment of a female suspect you just interviewed, a man barges in and you hear her scream. A moral decision arises, to either help her or walk away. You decide to help and a fight starts. The game transitions into an interactive cut-scene where it prompts you to press or move the joystick at specific moments which translate into you either winning or losing the fight. You lose the fight and leave the apartment. The story continues, but the repercussions of the decisions you took will carry on with you through the rest of the game. So you ask, “What if I had done something differently?” This is where “Heavy Rain” blossoms.

Throughout the game the decisions you make, regardless of how insignificant they may be, have repercussions in the future of your character. Although the main plot does not change, the path you take depends on the way you decide to play it.

The game is slow-paced with more dialog and cut-scenes than actual game-play in the sense of walking around and exploring. The controllers take some getting use to; moving your character around is especially frustrating at first, given that you propel your character forward with the R2 button. Frame rate issues and awkward camera angles are the only two other issues that are noticeable.

The game deals with a variety of mature themes such as death, abandonment and fatherhood, among others. This seems to add depth to your experience as the game becomes propelled by recognizable human emotions. A deeper bond is created between you and the characters because the decisions you make are entirely your own.

Although some may argue that “Heavy Rain” has a high re-play value, I found myself so consumed by the way my story and characters turned out I did not wish to play it again, at least not for a while. One run through is fulfilling enough to keep you thinking about your experience for weeks to come. This is why I would recommend anyone who is interested in the game, but does not have $60 to purchase it, to rent it first.

Give the game a spin, maybe the whole interactive drama idea is not your cup of tea. With a campaign lasting roughly eight to 10 hours, you will have enough time to beat it and decide if it’s a game you would like to own. Now that being said, you would be the proud owner of a game that will steal the spotlight this year plus a potential Game of the Year contender.

“Heavy Rain” is a thrilling and absorbing video game. The voice acting and character animations are done so well it’s hard not to get emotionally attached to certain parts of the game.

Developers need to take the risk and create innovative games like “Heavy Rain,” instead of re-working already popular game titles. “Heavy Rain” does something unique and pushes the video game industry forward further establishing the medium as an art form.

Sony has already announced downloadable content for the game in the form of episodes featuring the rest of Heavy Rain’s cast. Each episode will be available for $4.99, and will take place either before or after the original game. For details, visit http://heavyrainps3.com.

For its excellent graphics, gripping story line, re-playability and innovative approach, “Heavy Rain” gets five out of five stars.

ESRB Rating: M for Mature Audiences
Retail Price: $59.99