A milestone for interactive entertainment, Heavy Rain is a cinematic masterpiece not to be missed

User Rating: 9.5 | Heavy Rain PS3
Back in 2005, Quantic Dream and Atari Entertainment released Indigo Prophecy, or Fahrenheit in Europe. While not graphically pleasant, the scope of interacting with the environment and the characters was pretty much unmatched. A year later, Quantic Dream revealed their next project named Heavy Rain, not a sequel but an entirely new game, one to take video gaming interactivity to an even further level than Indigo Prophecy. Three years later, SCEA and Quantic Dream has finished Heavy Rain. But did the wait pay off, or is it a heavy disappointment?

Lets get the obvious out of the way, Heavy Rain looks good, and is a huge step up from the graphics of Indigo Prophecy. The highlight of the experience are the character's facial animations. Never before have I seen every emotion played out on a character's face as well as I have here. Happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety and more are all shown in full effect, and gives the player a level of immersion to the story. Everything else in the game, including environments and even the rain, are portrayed to near photo-realism. Every now and then, there will be some screen tearing, and even some low polygon/resolution items, but as a whole, Heavy Rain just may be the best looking game ever created.

Now onto the point of concern for every person looking into Heavy Rain: is the game nothing but one big quick-time event? Well, in theory, yes. Almost every action you partake in, you have to execute a command, done by shaking, moving, tilting, tapping buttons, and even holding down certain buttons...or maybe a combination of some or all of the above, depending on the situation. During a crucial part of the story, like the now infamous Madison vs. the bandits in the apartment, or the Scott Shelby vs. tattoo guy, certain buttons have to be hit in an allotted amount of time, fast or exaggerated depending on the situation. Then there are the tasks or pleasantries, like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, juggling fruit, and more that immerse you into the story. In short, pretty much everything your characters do, you made them do it. They way it is done is how the game is unique and is involving to the player. If there was a dent to a unique formula, the walking mechanics can be a bit cumbersome at times, especially in tight spaces. To help some, tapping the L1 button can change the camera, but still it can be tedious to tell your character where to walk/where to look. After an hour or so, you should have a grasp on the controls, but a little more fluidity wouldn't have hurt.

Now the story is the main focus here. After all, that is how David Cage, the writer/director, wants the player to be part of. Everything you do by interaction shifts the story to your style. The interesting aspect is that no matter what happens, the story goes on. Did you pull the trigger to save a life, or did you lower the gun and walk away? Did you dodge a knife and then attacked the enemy, or did you miss a prompt and have the knife in your stomach be the last feeling you would ever feel? Choices like this are truly unique, and ultimately unique is if a character dies, oh well, the show goes on. A first that I know of. Before it was curtains, or game over. Not in Heavy Rain. Every situation has at least two outcomes, with some having up to five. This gives the game immense replay value, and that is something most games on the market can't offer in terms of quality. I have heard that there are ten endings. If that is true or not, I don't know, but I have gotten two different endings so far.

There have been some qualms about the vocal quality, but honestly, I can't see where. Every actor/actress did a fine job my my opinion, and I can't imagine them doing a better job. The emotions given by the outstanding facial animations are further enhanced by the performance of the actors/actresses, and a game having that kind of two-for-one deal is hard tom come by. The music is another highlight. The sweeping orchestral scores were amazing, and each piece fit with every scene. There wasn't one piece that I found to be a drag or boring. To top it all off, the highlight of the game, and even the game's title brings it to mention, the rain effects are superb. When rain hits a surface, be it metal, wood, concrete, and even the character's themselves, every cling, ding, and tap is accurate and well rendered.

Overall, Heavy Rain is an outstanding and amazing piece of interactivity in video game form. Half movie, half video game, Heavy Rain comes together to form on unique experience, and different to every player. With superior immersion and facial animations, on top of an outstanding story with a great soundtrack, this is one experience every gamer/movie fan shouldn't miss. If you don't own a Playstation 3, this might be a reason to own one alone. If you do, however, you owe it to yourself to at least rent this one.