Sunday, February 12, 2012

Heavy Rain - A one of a kind Masterpiece!

Now I'm sure that many of you have gone to your local game store and you've noticed this grayish box art which shows four people standing in the background behind a blood stained bird that's in a pool of water, but how many of you actually know what it is? For anyone who doesn't own a PS3 you may have never even bothered looking at this game, but that really shouldn't matter; this is a one of a kind game and it deserves to be known.

Heavy Rain is not a normal game by any means. Sure it is played on a game console, and you do control the characters, but it is actually what you might call an interactive movie. Players are able to walk around and explore the world around them, but the game's episodic set up actually limits where you can go, and what you can see. However, where Heavy Rain lacks in exploration, it makes up in story and intreaction.
Heavy Rain starts with one of our main chracters, named Ethan Mars, waking up and getting out of bed. The game quickly introduces the button promp system, and it also quickly shows you the different type of commands you'll have to enter. While waking up you simply have to press up on the right control stick, but once you walk around the room you'll quickly notice there are many other types. After Ethan finds a note from his wife talking abou this son's birthday party, you are then free to leave the room and get ready for your day. Brushing Ethan's teeth requires you to quickly move the tooth brush bath and forth, and shaving requires you to slowly run the razor up Ethan's face. Really these small tasks are simply there for training, but at the same time it helps the players learn just who this man is.

After Ethan takes his shower and gets ready for his day, you are then free to control how you spend your time. You can walk around the hosue exploring, you can play with the toy's in Ethan's kid's room, or you can try and get some work done in the office. Really its completely up to the player, and either way time will tick on.

Once Ethan's wife and kids finally get home its time to get ready for the party, but this is also the first time you get to interact with other people in the yard. Ethan can kiss his wife, help her get ready with the party, or simply go play with his kids, it's completely up to you and each event requires different button inputs. Sometimes the game will require you to hit buttons as soon as possible, other times you'll have to move slowly, sometimes you'll have to hold buttons down in a special order (which often causes both of your hands to play twister with eachother), and sometimes you simply have to press it. These buttons can range from right stick movements, to any other button on the controller; the game really tries to mix it up but at the same time pick buttons that would make sense. Although I myself have never used it myself, a patch has been released which allows you to play the game with the Playstation move controler as well. Just like with the controller the game will require you to move in different ways to get things done.

After Ethan plays with his kids and gets ready for dinner, you find that his youngest son Shuan is no where to be seen. Ethan then decides to go look for him only to find him sitting in front of a bird cage crying. Sadly their pet bird has died...

The game then jumps forward to a time where the family is visting the mall. Ethan goes with his son Jason, while his wife goes off with Shuan, and that's when it happens. Jason decides to run off and Ethan is forced to go looking for him. Well it turns out Jason only wanted a baloon from a clown, so Ethan decides to go ahead and buy his son what he wanted. After checking his pockets for his wallet, with the players help, Ethan pays for it only to find that once again his son has ran off. This is when the game completely changes.

At any point in the game you can listen to what the characters thoughts are saying. Ethan begins to worry about his son, his heart begins to pound, MOBS of people get in your way, and panic completely sets in. Finally after searching for what seems like hours (the game really does a good job striking you with fear) Ethan finally finds his son standing right outside the mall. Ethan calls out for his son, his son happily responds with a "DAD!" and he begins running towards him. Sadly that's the last time we'll ever see poor Jason... "JASON!!!!!!!!!" Ethan lets out a yell, and jumps as he tries to save his son from a speeding car. This scene is very dramatic, and would make anyone feel sorry for the main characters. In the original version of the game this scene was a lot more graphic, but the final cut only features Ethan's wife with an expression of horror on her face.

Jump forward awhile later and we get to see that Ethan's life has gone to heck. He now lives in an old dump of a home, he got a devorce from his wife, he has grown appart from his son Shaun, and his life has just been completely ruined. This is once again when the players get to decide how things play out.

Players can either try to be a good dad to Shaun, get him what he needs, help him with his homework, or just try and be there for him, or they can take Ethan down the path of sarrow and depression. Looking at old pictures, remembering the good times, and wishing things could go back to the way they were. By the time players get to play through this they have already gotten attached to Ethan's life, they have lived it and they can truly feel sorry for him.

Well Ethan's sad life isn't the main part of the game. Soon after Ethan's son is kidnaped by the "Origami Killer" who's been kidnapping kids only to drown them in rain water a few days later. This killer is playing a sick game where he/she decides to see just how far a father will go to save someone he loves. Soon Ethan finds himself caught up in this twisted game of pain and suffering, but he has no choice if he wants to ever see his son again.

Besides Ethan players also get to live the lives of Madison Page, a reporter looking into Ethan Mars who some people feel actually IS the Origami Killer, Norman Jayden who's an FBI agent looking into murders and possible suspects, and a Private Investigator named Scott Shelby. All of these character's lives cross at one point or another, and they all have their own goals and style of gameplay.

Although each chapter normally focuses on a different character as the game rotates between the four, each character still follows their own story. As I have already said, characters do cross paths (and each character has an effect on the others story), but each character still has their very own story to follow.

In Ethan's story players will have to play the killer's little "game" if they ever want to see "their" (Ethan's) son again. It is completely up to the players to decide what Ethan can do, and what might be too much for him to take. Although these "trials" do start out pretty simple, things soon start to change and the players might find themselves fighting with their own morals. What do you think is right and wrong? Get ready to ask yourself that very same question.

Madison's story ends up being closely tied to Ethan's story, but at the same time she is on her own. As Madison you'll find yourself following different leads all around town as you try to get to the bottom of the mystery. "Just who is the Origami Killer?" "Could it really be Ethan?" It's up to the players to find the truth behind everything.

Jayden's story opens up right with you stepping right into the action. If you have ever seen a crime drama show in your life, say CSI, you know what you should expect as you play as Jayden. You'll search for clues, question anyone who might know anything, and you'll also be sent after suspects. Jayden's gameplay really adds a lot to the game, and it ended up being one of my personal favorites. Finding clues can be fun, but it's even better when you get to use your AR glasses! Jayden gets to enter a virtual world at almost any time, however all good things come at a price. Due to the side effects of blending the virtual world into reality, Jayden begins to take an illegal drug which he soon becomes addicted to. This addiction is something players must strugle with as they live the life of Norman Jayden. (Hmmm FBI agent addicted to some type of drug... Prison Break anyone?)

Scott is the 4th and final character that players will get to play as. As a PI players will spend their time qustioning families that the Origimi Killer has effected, and they will try to get to the bottom of things. Scott soon teams up with a young woman who lost her child, and the two decide to stop at NOTHING until they find out just who is behind it all.

One of the things that really makes Heavy Rain stand out for most other games out there is the fact that there are MANY chapters in the game, and there are many different events can happen! Unlike most games out there, you can actually change the story based on your actions. So one of the main characters got killed because you did something stupid? Well, too bad! The story keeps on going and there's no going back. Couldn't come through and finish one of the trials the Origami Killer is forcing you to go through? Well Shaun is going to suffer for it. Really the whole game changes based on what you do, and that makes it the type of game where every single person who plays will get a different type of experience.

Although Heavy Rain is actually an interactive movie, it is still a game worth playing. It has a great story, very rememberable characters, and it's packed full with content. You could easily replay the game over and over again only to find something new each time.

Once again Heavy Rain IS an M rated game so this really isn't the type of game you want your kids to play (if you have any). The game features some pretty realistic violent scenes, there is quite a lot of strong language, sexual themes, some nudity (including a few skippable scenes which feature Madison topless), and it has a mature story. Sure kids can try to play through it, but there's always the chance they will not be able to completley understand. The game requires you to use a lot of street smarts, so it's not something you can simply guess your way through.

If you're into crime dramas, or if you're simply looking for a different type of game, Heavy Rain might just be the game for you. Great graphics, very nice mo-cap work, a great story, and a lot of freedom.
For what it is... Heavy Rain is a 10/10 in my book.