24-11-2010 02:07 PM - edited 24-11-2010 02:16 PM
Heavy Rain is a difficult game. It's not hard to play, it's just hard to describe and to judge, and hard to enjoy but also hard to dislike. For all the times that I admired the effort that's gone into making this game "cinematic", I just as often found myself wondering, "Isn't this supposed to be fun?"
I don't mind challenging products. Like theatre that challenges traditional form or movies like Inception that challenge narrative structure. But Heavy Rain went to such lengths to be serious and dramatic and to break the mould of a video game, that it ended up losing something along the way.
Every character in the game is just so dull. Take Ethan for example, the protagonist, the hero, the man on a mission. He is totally lacking in charisma and personality. Maybe this was an effort to make a lead character that didn't fit the Nathan Drake model of video game leads, but Heavy Rain goes too far. Ethan is so dull that by the end I didn't care what happened to him.
The problems with the characters might be the result of poor acting. Simply casting actors as though you are casting a movie does not mean you are going to get high quality cinematic performances. Using state of the art motion capture techniques does not guarantee that the characters in your game are going to be totally believable. The performances are all very dry, and seem restricted by the seriousness that looms over the entire project. I really believe that no matter how well you capture facial expressions, you're not going to get anything natural or entertaining out of those poor guys sitting in a booth with balls stuck on their faces. Technicalities aside though, I don't think any of the actors involved were any good to begin with, which is a problem for a game whose big selling point is human drama.
The director pushes so hard for the dark realistic tone that it overwhelms and swallows whole everything else in the game. It's admirable to try and maintain a harrowing tone for an entire two hour movie, but maintaining that tone for a 10+ hour video game is misguided. I felt sympathy for none of the characters, all of whom seemed depressed, bored, confused and lonely. The aggressive effort to deliver an involving dark cinematic experience went so far that it pushed me away.
And I don't care what anyone says, the gameplay is just quick-time events. There's no other way to describe it to anyone.
on 08-02-2012 05:11 PM
I think Heavy Rain is a fantastic masterpiece, it gets you thinking and has many endings to a story which could go bad or get better. Your review is so focused on the negative parts, that I actually think your missing the moral of the storyline by painting the game in such a negative light. For once there's a game on the market where you can truly pan the game out, they way you want to. My advise would be, to play the game again and then review it properly: showcasing the good not just the bad.
on 28-02-2012 07:33 PM
I see your point of view. Heavy Rain is a very brave attempt at something different (the seeds of which were laid in 'Farenheit'); Unlike 'Farenheit' it doesn't leap into ridiculous ideas about superhuman powers, etc. and attempts to stick to the 'film noir' style that it tries at times.
The problem is, though, if your dealing with a serial killer that targets children by drowning them, how exactly do you liven it up, without it becoming parody? Heavy Rain has moments of well created observation about human behaviour and emotion in more normal day to day living situations and environments. This won't be everyone's bag, but it is interesting to see it actually done in a game. There weren't as many options for interaction as I would have hoped for and also I think it would have been a much greater game if the serial killer changed dependant on your choices, as any of the characters could have actually been the serial killer. Good review.
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