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Tonight’s Forecast: Heavy Rain – Video Game Review

Heavy Rain video gameATTENTION READERS:

This Game Is Rated:
There’s Your Warning!

To begin, I am only going to say this once. the Heavy Rain video game contains scenes of Explicit Language, Violence, Nudity, as well as Very Strong Dramatic Scenes that are inappropriate to anyone under the recommended age of 17+. I, John Yomtov Jr., Eric Gargiulo, Sony, Quantic Dream, as well as everyone else here at The Camel Clutch Blog are NOT to be held accountable if anybodies children get a hand on this game and are playing it. I do not want to receive any email from parents who are complaining about a game that I reviewed for the site while I mention in the opening paragraph that this game is NOT FOR CHILDREN, period. While I will not go into great detail as to what is actually shown and said in the game, I will make references to those scenes very safely to keep this article as clean as possible.

[adinserter block=”1″]The ESRB created a list of ratings that they use on video game box covers to alert parents of the content that is in games. This game did receive a Mature Rating, in that regard, this game is an R Rated Movie. In today’s world, Grand Theft Auto is always shown as the biggest negative influence on the children of today. Sooner or later, at the time of this writing, the media will pick up Heavy Rain and do a piece on the game to only highlight its violence, language, and suggestive scenes. Heavy Rain is Rated M For Mature for a reason, if your kid plays it, do not blame anyone but yourself. Instead of calling your lawyer or local media outlet, look at who it was they let there attention wander for a second while there little kids were playing this game or any M Rated Games. Once again, for the last time, Heavy Rain is Rated M For Mature.

Meanwhile, Back At The Blog…

The Following Game Has A Movie Poster:

Here is what has been billed as one of the most anticipated games of 2010 and for good reason. Heavy Rain has been advertised as gaming’s biggest drama and it has been teased as a full on dramatic experience that makes you, the gamer, question every decision you make. For every decision you make, someone’s life is at stake or your own life may be at stake depending on what your choice is. Unlike GTA, if you fail a “Trail” as Ethan, you do not get second chances, also, you cannot restart your PS3 to force the game to go back in time so to say. The game uses Auto Saving like none other, Quantic Dream did not want anyone trying to alter the outcome of there decisions, once its made, your out of time.

And if you let the choices wander, the game will auto select you a decision and you will have to live with it. The game centers around the lives of 5 characters: Ethan Mars, Scott Shelby, Lauren Winters, Norman Jayden, and Madison Paige. Each of these characters lives have been affected in some way by the serial killer known as “The Origami Killer”. Ethan Mars is recovering from the accident that claimed the life of his first son, Jason, and now he has to suffer the pain and agony of now knowing that his other son, Shaun, is in the clutches of this serial killer. Ethan’s story is in a sense the main story of the game, while the other characters have ample amount of screen time, Ethan’s story is much more depressing and so much more intense that you almost feel for this video game character. Scott Shelby is a Private Eye who was hired by the families of the Origami Killer victims to investigate this case which has seemed to have gone cold. Norman Jayden, who can be mistaken for Mulder from The X Files, is an FBI agent.

Jayden’s been assigned to The Origami Killer case in hopes to bring it to a close. Being that local police and detectives seem to have absolutely no clue on how to bring it to a close, there only concern is to capture someone who they can force to admit that they are the Origami Killer. Lauren Winters, like Ethan, lost her child to this serial killer, she meets with Scott Shelby, if you have played the demo you know how they meet. Its nothing over the top on how they met, but its an introduction to the games control system. Madison Paige, the games Playmate so to say, is a girl who is an insomniac, she has a great place to live in only issue is that she cannot sleep in it. One night, she has unexpected guests break in and from there on she frequents Hotels all over the area since she can only sleep in those. While at one of the hotels, she meets a battered Ethan Mars and an unexpected friendship forms.

Ethan’s story has yet to be told to her for she is completely out in the cold when it comes to details. All the while, the days are winding down and time is moving quickly. Ethan receives a package from The Origami Killer, inside this package contains Origami Figures, a Cell Phone, and a Gun. The figures are unfolded and inside a message awaits along with an address. Ethan has no choice here, he must go to the address and he must complete whatever the trail that is set forth for him to complete. These trails REALLY begin to show how deep this game digs into your mental psyche and it really begs to question: Is This Game Playing Me? I have never felt such a sense of conscience from a game that I have played its as if the game is learning about me more then I am learning about it. The overall sense of sadness, sorrow, and fear from Ethan is done so perfectly that it is unrivaled by anything I have ever seen.

Box Art:
Europe Box Art:

The folks who made this game must have PHD’s in Human Emotion or Psychology since its not everyday that game designers can capture raw emotion like that and when they try to do it, they cover it with huge explosions so to cover up the fact that they could not pull off the emotions well. Metal Gear Solid captured the emotions very well and also brought the cinematic with it, it was truly perfection at its finest. Metal Gear Solid, Gears Of War, Uncharted, and Killzone have done emotion combined with a huge movie experience so well that they are the benchmarks for creating that “Summer Action Blockbuster Movie” game.

However, there great games that also don’t really deserve that tagline since they are more then just bangs and booms, that tagline has absolutely no business next to those game since they bring the whole gamut to the table. Games like Modern Warfare 2 deserve that tagline since all they are really is just well done action sequences with lots of explosions. Metal Gear Solid, Gears Of War, Uncharted, Killzone 2, and now Heavy Rain can be added to that list since these games are all the benchmarks on how video game experiences should be. Combining its amazing dialog and decision making comes great music. Heavy Rain’s musical score captures the raw elements of the feelings of the characters given the situations your in.

The music takes a fever pitch during some of the trails that Ethan is involved in. You can lose a trail and miss out on information that is critical to Ethan in his search. The acting of the character models is stellar during the pain and suffering they are going through. Only Ethan goes on these trails, the other characters are either investigating or traveling in search for answers or any little piece of information. The more grueling trails await Ethan as you progress through the game, Ethan’s body takes a huge blow and your health will begin to fade, Ethan’s fate is in your hands.

Ethan Mars:
Madison Paige:

While completing the Trails, you gain more information to locate Shaun and save his life, all these clues help out Ethan as well as the other characters. While Ethan is the only character who goes on trails, Scott & Lauren find clues as well. Scott brings with him his experience as a Private Eye to uncover all sorts of information that can bring closure to this ordeal for he and for Lauren. While searching for information as Scott, Norman is also moving quickly on his search for information that can bring an end to this serial killer. Norman however does not use the standard methods of gathering information. He brings with him toys from the FBI, a pair of Glasses known as ARI and a Glove that can scan out anything on the ground or in the scene of a crime from fingerprints to blood, anything that is at the scene can and will be scanned. The eye glasses can also record and photograph anything that Norman asks it to.

ARI is a very cool device thats for sure. The only problems for Norman are as follows, his has an addiction and he also has to deal with a hard headed police detective who is going hardcore rogue into capturing this serial killer even if it means having someone else take the fall. He is also very much into having meaningless press conferences that his boss plans to have. The main thing to point out about this police force, its the Philadelphia Police Department! That’s right, the entire East Coast is in this game, while Philadelphia and New Jersey are showcased the most, New York and Washington are also shown off as well. Philadelphia gets the most screen time and if your paying attention, you can see the entire Map of Center City in Scott Shelby’s office complete with the REAL names of Neighborhoods.

Scott Shelby:
Lauren Winters:

The gameplay is very much centered around choices, there are fight scenes in this game as well as driving. The controls are like nothing I have ever seen in a game. Its totally different from anything I have played, its all centered around timing and order. The timing of the buttons are in accordance to the intensity of the situation that you are currently in. If its just a sneaking situation, meaning your trying to get through a fence or get by someone without making any noise, the buttons you press or hold are pressure sensitive, so if you put too much pressure on the button that is shown on the screen, you will either fail at sneaking or get hurt trying to get through a fence of barb wire.

Also, its not just buttons that have this going on. While the R2 button must be held throughout the entire game because it moves your character, yes the WHOLE game you have to hold R2. Its the reverse of Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid and Gears Of War where you hold a button to run, this game has no run. You do not run at will in this game, you only run if the games feels like you should have to. Basically, the game can sense from your decisions and assess an outcome of those choices that you make in this game. While this may seem like its hard to believe, trust me, this is how it actually works. The engine of this game is generic at best but its the interesting twist on the controls that make it unique and different from anything I have ever played. However, this leads me to the controls, and how amazingly frustrating they truly are. From the beginning of the game and to one of its many endings, the controls are a nightmare.

Norman Jayden:

The demo was basically an introduction to them but in that sense its was more of a warning of what you may be getting into with the sheer frustration that I have had throughout playing this game. The controls are laid out very well but its just that they are so unresponsive and so frequent depending on the situation that it almost begs to question that did the developers even pay attention to there programming when it came to lag time. There are instances where I lost a trail or two because of the lag time from button press to the reaction of the character on screen. Also, there are instances where the slightest move of your finger can lead the game to think you moved your finger off of the button all together. This is very damaging to you throughout gameplay because there are some tense scenes where your fighting or trying to gather some critical information and due to the technical issues dealing with the controls its almost impossible to find anything that the controls can do right.

Another issue with the controls is the amazingly awful camera angles they give you. Depending on what the situation is in the portion of the story your going through, you may get more then two angles but by default you only get two separate camera angles. The purpose of the camera angles is to further help you find clues and or to see if anything is hidden beneath any desks or cars or anything else that may be in your view. You can interact with almost anything there is to interact with in the environment, almost anything can be examined to see if its a clue or not. You can also interact with a lot of different people you meet throughout the game, the controls can be very problematic with this as well. As your walking forward, if the camera is switched manually or automatically you will go from walking forward to walking backwards.

Another issue I have with the walking is that you do have any control over the walking, all you do is control which direction your going in, its like driving only with a person. The walking is very weird since you can literally stutter step, which means that for some reason or another your characters walking can skip at times which causes you to stop and then start and stop and repeat. Its a very annoying occurrence in this game because it can cause the game to stop progressing in very tense moments. The beginning of the game is filled with a lot of technical issues with the controls. You are Ethan and your home preparing the house for your son Jason’s birthday party. You go into the yard and play with your sons, via the decision making system, and the controls really begin to show there true nature of being very buggy and very unresponsive.

The second analog controls all of your actions, it is also used in button pressing scenarios. You can rotate the second analog stick, press it in as a button, or move in directions that are shown on the screen. There are white boxes that surround the buttons or the directions that the analog is to be moved in. The solid square box just wants you to press it the button normally, the dotted line box is pressure sensitive so you should be very gentle moving the second analog stick, the solid box with the down arrow is indicating that the button is to be held in until the box completely disappears, and the flashing box is used to indicate the button is to be pressed repeatedly. You have seconds to press the buttons indicated by a circle around it since its a time sensitive action. Failure to press the buttons in the correct fashion will cause dramatic changes in the story line. The story in this game is so deep and it is really refreshing to see a game take strong interest in character development and story more then any other important aspect of a great game.

Button Pressing Sequence:

What I also find interesting about this game is the level of overall development of the story and characters. As I mentioned before this game can lead you to think to yourself “Am I playing this game or is the game playing me?”, its that deep and intense. As the story progressed I felt so bad for Ethan and I felt awful putting him through the motions of those Trails and those scenes of sheer terror and pain. For example, the trailer showed this part of the game, there is a trail that asks you “Are you prepared to suffer to save someone you love?” and the only way to win this trail: Cut Off The End Of A Finger. You have 5 minutes to decide on what your going to do and how your going to do it. If you do not cut off the tip of a finger, theres other trails, if you do cut it off your pain will be intense and your appearance will alter completely and you will also draw more concern from Madison. Madison’s attraction to Ethan is evident as she voluntarily steps up and helps him with his injuries with bandages and medicines.

However, she is completely out in the dark when it comes to why these things are happening to him. Meanwhile, in Norman’s story, the police commissioner is holding many press conferences to update the public about the search for The Origami Killer and basically labeling Ethan Mars as the killer, but is he? Also, in Scott’s story, the search for Lauren’s answers continues. For some reason however, the Mob get involved with Scott in some apparent vendetta that exists between the son of a boss and Scott Shelby. While I will not give away what that vendetta is, if you make a bad choice or miss a button combination, you will no be informed as to why this vendetta exists.

There are even Trophies that reward you if you put Ethan through this grueling trial or if you skip it. There are tons and tons of trophies to get in this game and there all almost completely related to the choices you make throughout the game. Make good or bad choices and even have missed opportunities you will earn a Trophy every time. There is a trophy that is given for anyone who actually viewed all of the endings, trust me there are a lot.

[adinserter block=”2″]The best way I can describe the control scheme with regard of the button pressing is to think of it as a Guitar Hero like system, or a Dance Dance Revolution for all you Dance Dance addicts out there. The only saving grace to the controls is that the story and the developments are so amazing that I absolutely have to find out what happens to everyone and does the killer get caught. Now I mentioned that there are many endings, the interesting thing is to think which one of them is the real deal. Its as if the creators are tricking you into believing what is real and what is fake. The game play is very straight forward but the controls are not. While it is new and refreshing to see a new game come along that breaks the mold from what is going on right now out there, its just a shame that more attention wasn’t given to retooling the controls. While I believe they were very creative in there thought process when laying out the button plans, they should have done more testing on responsive controls.

There are many incidents throughout the game where you have to use the Sixaxis motion gestures on the Dual Shock 3 that add even more freedom for Quantic Dreams since it gives them more interaction between the gamer and the game. What I find interesting about this that this game feels like it was being created with the hopes that the Playstation “Arc” would already be out at the time of Heavy Rain’s release. Sadly it wasn’t to be, but in the end, the folks over at Quantic Dreams did a great job on the layout, but they should just have put a little bit more effort into the responsiveness of the controls. Also I find that the game really relies heavily on the motion controller functions more then anything else in this game. Its just as frequent as the button pressing sequences.

Who Is The Origami Killer?

I also find that the character models are well done but there are instances that the character models break up in transition from cut scene to gameplay. Also, the dialog while it is very well written and delivered, there are instances where the dialog does not transfer well into the dramatic nature of the situation your in. What they did was record the responses and just labeled them as “Choice A, B, etc.” and put them into the game when the aforementioned button is pressed. Its as if your the DJ and the answers are the tracks to play, that’s the only way I can think of it. The way the text is put into the story once your choice is made proves this because the character does not react the way they should once the choice is given. Its like they just animate the words into the situation, not adding any emotion from the character who is speaking or giving an answer.

The decision making transitions well in the game its just that the speaking portions are not nearly as well done as they should be. The graphics also have some issues with texture mapping. The game has instances where the background either breakup or you can see them developing in the background, much like they do in Halo 2 and 3. There are even times where I can see the game skipping, maybe that just my copy of the game. All in all, because the story line is so brilliant and well thought out that I have to finish the game just to find out the truth. I have seen a few endings already, and each offer amazing twists and make you think “WOW, did that happen?” or “WOW, is that how it ends?”. Its an amazing experience to be had.

Heavy Rain is now available for an MSRP of $59.99. Rated M For Mature 17+. Only On PS3. Once again, I reiterate, this game is Not For Children. This game is totally different and as of this writing, I am labeling it the 2010 Camel Clutch Blog Game Of The Year, its that good in terms of story. This is a must own for anyone who is of age and owns a PS3.

-Fantastic Story
-Amazingly Deep Character Development
-Original And Very Innovative
-Controls Are Very Well Thought Out
-Philadelphia Is The Center Of The Story!
-Decision Making System Makes You Think Many Times Before You Make A Choice
-Motion Control Gameplay Is Extremely Accurate And Responsive
-Fantastic Soundtrack
-The Game Learns From Your Choices And Alters The Story
-Trophies Are Rewarded For Both Good And Bad Choices
-No Game Over’s
-Almost Unlimited Angles Can Be Created With Your Decisions
-Lots Of Endings, Which Is Real However?
-If A Character Dies, The Game Continues On Without There Story Mixed In
-Amazing Replay Value
-Finally, An Game For Grown Ups

-Frustrating Controls
-Texture Mapping
-Voice Over Work Is Good, But Theres No Added Emotion After Decisions Are Made
-Button Pressing Is Very Unresponsive And Buggy
-Camera Angles Cause The Control To Reverse
-R2 Is Held The Entire Duration Of The Game
-Character Models Almost Look All Identical
-There Are Lots Of Instances Of Slow Down
-Skips (Maybe Its Just My Copy)
-If You Fail An Objective, Your Story Alters Without Any Way Of Retrying
-Angered Parents Who Will Most Certainly Complain About The Content Of This Game

Official Score:
Heavy Rain Rating: 4 Stars Out Of 5
Editor’s Choice Award
2010 Camel Clutch Blog Game Of The Year*


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