22 May 2010

Heavy Rain (PS3) Review

Just thought I would write a short review of the game. I'm gonna do this a little differently by starting off with an overall score before breaking it down.

Game: Heavy Rain
Platform: PS3
Genre: Interactive Drama
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Comment: An emotionally engaging journey that would make you question "How far are you willing to go, to save someone you love?" Despite a few hiccups here and there, this is a game that should be experienced by every PS3 gamer out there. Rent or borrow it. Buy it if you really enjoyed it and want to support the developer.

Visuals: 9/10
The water effects and facial animation are amazing. There hasn't been any other game out there with this level of detail in the character's facial expressions. However, it isn't a revolutionary step, just a evolutionary one. No, it hasn't crossed the uncanny valley. Some technical glitches here does destroy the atmosphere once in a while. For example, at one of the early scenes where Ethan is with his family in a mall, a frozen character model of Jason really destroyed the atmosphere and nearly made me restart the game. It wasn't a simple flaw that can be ignored; it almost rendered the game unplayable. Luckily, these situations don't happen too often. From what I've heard, it was much worst at launch, and the developers have patched most of the common technical issues already.

Audio: 8/10
The soundtrack is really good at setting the mood and the atmosphere, but I struggle to remember any of them. It might be just my personal preference, or the fact that the game is short and the music doesn't repeat a lot (which is a good thing). It just doesn't stand out enough for me to want to buy the soundtrack cd, but it does its job really well.

Gameplay: 7/10
As gripping and engaging as some of the action sequences might be, it's just one huge Quick Time Event (QTE). They pulled it off really well though. Nice interface that reflects the character's current state of mind. However, I just can't shake off the feeling that they could have let us PLAY more. There were things that they could let us do. Perhaps a mini-game of some sort that doesn't involve QTE. Maybe a 3rd person shooter sequence or a Fighting game sequence. Anything to spice things up a little, without destroying the mood by being too "game-y".

Story: 9.5/10
This is what Heavy Rain is all about. A gripping detective drama that puts the player right in the middle of the action. It's the first game that made me pause and think, struggling with the moral choices and consequences. At times, it makes you want to give up. Not because of a boring story, but because it is emotionally draining and you really feel tired after all that crap Ethan has to suffer. But in the end you will trudge on, hoping to somehow bring a happy ending to this sad tale. This is a game everyone should experience.

Completed in 10 hours. Replayed only the final scene once because the finicky controls did not let me experience the ending I deserved.

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