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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed By: Quantic Dream
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1
Rated: M (Mature)
Release Date: February 23, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

February 23, 2010 - When it comes to big budget releases, majority of those titles fall within the realm of action games, role-playing games and online shooters. While there have been titles here and there that broke the mold, none of them have been out there like Quantic Dreamís Heavy Rain. The French developer is best known for their cult-favorite Indigo Prophecy, which released back in 2005 for PS2, Xbox and PC platforms. Just like that title, Heavy Rain is a very story-driven experience that makes you question oneís choices and decisions within the virtual world created by the developer. And because of these deep connection and intense storyline, Heavy Rain has succeeded at being yet another engrossing experience that you can only find on the PlayStation 3.

Following all the media coverage of Heavy Rain, itís easy to see why this game was being built up as a premier gaming experience for the PS3 console. Instead of following the norm, you are in control of four distinct characters, which all have some type of connection, whether they know it or not. The whole notion presented by David Cage, Found and CEO of Quantic Dream, that all your controlled characters can die within the game and the story will continue strikes a chord with gamers simply because itís not something implement in games today. In the opening scenes of Heavy Rain, you are in control of Ethan Mars, a successful architect, husband and father of two. His life, his day was going greatÖ until an eventful afternoon were tragedy struck the Marsí family at a local mall. Times passes, however the wound donít fully heal and just when Ethan thinks things are finally falling back into place, he loses sight of his son Shaun, which officially starts the epic adventure that Ethan will partake within Heavy Rain.

The other three characters wrapped up within this "very dark film noir thriller with mature themes" include Madison Paige, Norman Jayden and Scott Shelby. Norman Jayden is an FBI profiler has been sent in to help the local police investigate the case of the Origami Killer. With the help of an experimental device known as ARI (Added Reality Interface), heís able to sift out clues and information which are vital to the case. Scott Shelby is a private investigator that was hired by the families of the previous victims of the Origami Killer in hopes of solving this caper, so their hearts and minds can finally get some closure. And then there is Madison Paige, which doesnít actually have any direct connection to the investigation of the Origami Killer, however due to certain events, finds herself deep in the investigation herself looking for truth. Just like Ethan, these characters have their own engaging stories and agendas that keep the action and pacing of Heavy Rain at the right setting.

Different pieces to the story and each character involved start to unravel very slowly, which can be a bore to some, however once the action picks up, itís a safe bet that you will on the edge of your seat with your eyes glued to your TV. There is a lot of information given through items, documents and interactions with people. These interactions help shape the gamers experience within Heavy Rain. While the game may seem linear, there is actually some extensive depth to be found within the game. Depending on your actions, who you might kill or protect, which main character dies or doesnít dieÖ all have an effect on the overall story and how the game plays out. Because of this mechanic, no two gamers will actually share the same exact experience, thus increasing the replayability of the title, ensuring you have seen and experience all there is to be had in Heavy Rain.

Depending on how you take to the game, Heavy Rain can be completed in 10-12 hours, however how you spend those hours spend within the virtual world of Heavy Rain will help to show what type of person you are. I found myself carrying for each of the protagonists, even some of the characters that are in place to help flesh out the story and situations between the protagonist and said characters. I wonít spoil anything for you, but you are looking at more than a dozen moments within the game where to connection you share with the in-game characters will often times dictate the action you actually take, altering the storyline and what you expect to experience within the playthrough. However, in the event the storyline doesnít play out how you liked it to, you do have the option to go back and replay that chapter in order to get the ending ďyou wantedĒ or to make sure you did everything you were suppose to.

The controls within Heavy Rain are a rather mixed bag. You are required to hold down R2 and use the left analog stick in order to walk around, which is not itself isnít that big of a deal. Itís when you need to switch directions or the camera angle changes that your character seems to have some clunky movements when switching from one movement animation to another. L1 allows you to switch the camera angle, while L2 allows you see the characterís thoughts. While all this is fine and dandy, the meat of the control scheme comes in the form of QTE/M (Quick-Time Events/Motions). These QTE/Ms are used in regular situations like brushing your teeth, opening a door, turning on a light and even keeping yourself alive in a fight. The reason why I threw in the ĎMí for motion is because itís not always a simply button press in order to initiate an action. Opening doors will require pressing right on the right-analog stock, then curing downward forming half a circle. There are QTMs where you have move the controller up and down to simulate brushing your teeth or due a jerk to the right in order to remove something from the screen. QTEs come into play when you are in physical altercations where the outcome could be dire for the parties involved. There are QTEs where you have simple press a certain button at the right time, repeatedly press a certain button, simply pressing a certain direction on the right analog stick or even hold a button down while holding down another button. It seems weird talking about it, however when you actually do these button press and motions, you soon realize that they tend to mimic movements we do in real-life.

When it comes to detail, none do it better than Quantic Dream. Heavy Rain is the only game to have every single item within its world rendered in 3D, giving weight and realism to them. While this is indeed an impressive feat, the same canít be said about the overall visual presentation. I am in no way downplaying the quality of work Quantic Dream has put into this title, just simply stating that some items like hands and clothing donít come off as realistic as the environments and character faces within the game. Subtle details in character animations are definitely there, giving life to the character. These details include subtle movements of the mouth and jaw, feet tapping the ground, subtle movements that the character showcases when standing in one sport or sitting down.

In regards to the audio, Quantic Dream did another fantastic job. The dialog that is delivered by the characters seems truly genuine and unforced. The characters and emotions come off the way the developer intended, helping to add depth and believability to the overall story. There are a few of the voiceovers that seem out of place considering the character they represent is suppose to be an American, but then again there are Americans I know who actually have Italian and Spanish accents. The gameís soundtrack is phenomenal. Every bit of music placed within the game is set to carry a specific message or feeling that being portrayed onscreen. Itís amazing how well the developer was able to branch the story of the game into so many different areas of the total package.

Heavy Rain may only be a single-player experience, however it is indeed one of the best gaming experience released to date this generation. No other game has been able to capture the hearts, minds and eyeballs of its audience quite like Heavy Rain. And when you are finished with the game, you do have the option of playing through it again to see what would happen if you go about things a bit differently. There are also bonuses you can unlock, including artwork and videos that highlight the developmental process of the game and why it can only be done on the PlayStation 3 console.

Heavy Rain is one hell of an experience, which tops many movies released. The story is very engaging; having wondering whatís going to happen next, then all of a sudden the event plays out differently. Quantic Dream did an amazing job telling their story through interactive gameplay, quick time events/motions, dialog, atmospheric perspective and all around great writing. For those who have yet to pick up this game and are looking for an engaging gaming experience, look no further than Heavy Rain. While this game may not be for everyone, itís definitely an experience that shouldnít be missed.


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