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February 28, 2010 | 11:00 a.m. CST
It’s difficult to call Heavy Rain a video game. It does require a Playstation 3 and a controller, but it plays more like an interactive film. The four playable characters — Ethan Mars, Norman Jayden, Scott Shelby and Madison Paige — are animated with astounding realism and show actual character development. That’s right — character development in a video game.
All four are on the trail of the “Origami Killer” who has a nasty habit of kidnapping young boys and drowning them. The story, written by Quantic Dream’s David Cage, is a well thought-out thriller that will keep the player guessing until the pulse-pounding conclusion.
It’s clear that Quantic Dream spent a lot of time meticulously crafting everything to visual perfection. The gorgeous character models are loaded with details, including accurate facial expressions that perfectly reflect a full range of emotions.
The voice-acting is a notch above most games but sporadically sounds forced, especially when compared to Quantic Dream’s 2005 thriller Indigo Prophecy. Some actors’ have smoother line delivery than others, but Heavy Rain’s script, also written by Cage, could be to blame because it occasionally reads like a bad action flick.
The control scheme — where the R2 button makes the characters walk, and the left stick turns them — is original but not always effective. In confined spaces, trying to turn results in the character rotating multiple times before he or she goes in the right direction. This frees up the right stick, which is used for almost all actions ranging from brushing teeth to fist fighting. The excitement of the game wanes when walking up a staircase becomes more difficult than fighting off adversaries.
Despite its flaws, Heavy Rain is a storytelling landmark for video games. In the eight to 10 hours it’ll take to beat the game, the game delivers characters to actually care about and an emotionally charged story that will keep players yearning for more.
DEVELOPER: Quantic Dream
PUBLISHER: Sony Computer Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 23, 2010
PLATFORM: Playstation 3
RATING: M for Mature
WHERE TO GET IT: Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Slackers, Gamestop