Since its release, Mass Effect 2 has been the subject of non-stop conversation in the GameSpot UK offices. The anticipation for the game has been massive, and when our post arrived last Friday, I lost count of the number of people literally sprinting to the post room to see if their copy had arrived.
Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people. I didn't pre-order a copy, it's just not high on my list of things to play at the moment. I'm sure it's brilliant, and I'll no doubt play it at some point, but right now I'm more excited for Bioshock 2, Final Fantasy XIII, and Heavy Rain.
I've been fortunate enough to play a large chunk of Heavy Rain (if you're interested you can check out my preview), and for me is one the most important releases for the gaming industry this year. It blurs the boundaries between movie and video game more than any other title I've played. The way each scene has been meticulosuly crafted to recreate the look of film, the emotionally-affecting story, and the way it deals with serious issues such as parenthood, loss of a loved one, and even rape are a major push forward for gaming as a serious art form.
Many have wondered whether a serious of quick time events can really be construed as game. But that's just it, all games are merely button pushes on a control pad. Heavy Rain integrates the actions you make so deeply into the story, that you never feel as though you are anything but in control of your character, and your even the smallest of your actions has vast repercussions on the narrative.
So yes, I'm sure Mass Effect 2 is great, and I'm hopeful that Bioshock 2 will also be great. But they don't do anything vastly different from other games before them, playing to the same clichés and mechanisms that have powered the current generation of gaming. Heavy Rain is a major departure from that, and I sincerely hope that more games of it's type come along to push the boundaries of game design, and maybe help to create something truly special.