Thursday, 18 March 2010

Heavy Rain

A game that was set to revolutionise the Playstation 3 by suggesting the word 'gaming' has gone out the window to make way for what the producers call 'interactive drama' - but does it work?

This is a bold step forward for a game to take. It has based itself purely on the God Of War mode of playing by tapping buttons at the right time but taken it one step further. You, in essence, are using the controller like an extra limb that acts as a conduit into the virtual world. Moving the controller by swiping it to one side could perhaps act as a punch, tilt it slowly to take a drink, shake it to free yourself from a choke, use it as a steering wheel as you drive through the rain at 100MPH or just simply scramble some eggs. Does this method of gameplay work? In theory, yes. I enjoyed throwing the controller about, pushing buttons at the right time, trying to keep hold of some in sequence to keep the action going, but it's biggest drawing point is also it's biggest flaw...

As much as I enjoyed the more menial tasks of opening a fridge and making sure my kid goes to bed in time, it sometimes got a bit annoying and I was getting so used to pushing the buttons a certain way that it started to lose it's edge. It just got a bit too easy. There were also times, where pivotal scenes would come up with certain different options of using your control for different results, and I was slightly confused as to what they meant - one of which caused an accidental death. In the game of course. But these were minor flaws to an innovative way of drawing you into the action - and it was the action that kept me staying there.

It's about 8 or 9 hours of gameplay in total, but I would be hooked for long periods at a time which always makes it feel shorter. It's also divided up nicely in short chapters that keeps the narrative going forward and it's the narrative that is really where this game stands up. It feels like a great crime thriller novel put onto a screen in a way that the film industry could not do. The story of the Origami Killer is a great one, full of twists and turns, and chock-a-block with action. You take control of mainly one of four characters - an old film noir style private eye, an FBI drug addict, a sexy young reporter and a father who has lost his way. Straight from the off, you are already emotionally involved with these characters, they all have problems and the setting of a dark, constantly raining environment reflects the tone of the whole piece. It is about the darker side of human psychology and how we have to deal with the problems of the past to face the future. Deeeeeeeeep. However, there are still things that don't add up. Why was the father (Ethan) waking up in the rain after a blackout? I can only reason/hope that I need to play it again to find out ...

The general story is the Origami Killer preys on small children and drowns them in the rain. But there's something darker afoot as the father's all seem to either disappear or keep silent ... Moving from action to emotion to thrills, chills and spills the game flows naturally into a deep, multi-layered tale that keeps every aspect of the audience happy. It's dark subject matter also brings up the question of what you would do in such a situation - you can easily walk away from certain scenarios, but it will affect the outcome of the game and it's this aspect that will keep me coming back to Heavy Rain now that I have finished it. However, there is one major flaw with this impressive set-up - and that is that you don't seem to die. Seeing as the perspective shifts, you sometimes find it difficult to invest too much into one character. The only person you relate to the most is the father, mainly because he gets most of the fun stuff. But the problem is that, if you know whatever happens you won't 'lose' as such, it takes out the jeopardy of playing the game. It got to the point where I was thinking, I could potentially do anything and the story will go on regardless, which means that the sheer terror your characters go through doesn't come across as much as it should. Which is a shame, because at some points I felt like I was in Silent Hill - alone, a bit scared and not sure what would come at me at any second. The movement and camera angles work, but can be frustrating at times, you find yourself walking like a retard (no offence) following the direction of your head, which is just weird. You can also forget that you can change the camera angles, which means sometimes you're standing around wondering what to do next, until you see an icon in the corner of your eye that you need to change angle to see. Apart from that, the cinematic quality of the game is amazing - the 24-esque multi-window control pieces reminds me of Metal Gear Solid 4 and the general feel of the game is very smooth regardless of it's few flaws. The directing is incredible with great camerwork and some incredible set pieces that really do make the game.

You can tell an absolutely huge amount of work has gone into this from the great (British) casting to the graphics through to the writing. Everything works wonders and for it's sheer originality, it has set a benchmark for others to stand up to. Gaming might sound childish, but interactive drama is definitely for the grown-ups. The future of gaming starts here - get on board!

Rating: 9/10

No comments:

Post a Comment