Heavy Rain

March 4th, 2010

Bloody hell. That was good.

Which probably sums up in five words why I would never get a job reviewing games.

The idea of Heavy Rain seemed strangely familiar when people started whispering about it. The idea that you’re  basically watching a film that invites you to interact with it by pressing the right button was pretty well the concept of  Dragon’s Lair. Clearly Dragon’s Lair was far from watching a film, more of a cartoon.

Just like Heavy Rain, Dragon’s Lair was talked about in hushed tones back in 1983. I remember seeing it on….. I can’t remember, the telly. It looked beyond anything I could imagine. A proper cartoon that you could actually take part in.

I grew up in Eastbourne which, being by the sea, had quite a few arcades. That meant there was a better than average chance I’d get to play Dragon’s Lair. The odd thing was that when it did turn up, it arrived upstairs in The Enterprise Centre (actually I’m not sure that link is right or it’s even the same place. It looks posher than it did 20 years ago and I thought it was named after a fish). There’d never been an arcade game in there before. They’d definitely never been one that was going to change the world.

I remember hearing a rumour at school that there was one in Eastbourne. I remember going down to have a look at the weekend and it turned out to be true. That’s about as good as it got. Dragon’s Lair was a truly dreadful game. You just smashed a random button for, seemingly, no reason and hoped you didn’t die. Invariably you did die.

So 27 years later I’d assumed that technology was unlikely to have improved much beyond Dragon’s Lair.

As it turn out it has.

Heavy Rain is really good.

Things seem to be looking up in terms of story as well. At last a story that I wanted to take part in and it made sense.

The game itself is far from perfect. Mainly because some of the stuff you take for granted as being cut from a film is a staple  in video games. In a game when you walk from one room to another you bloody well make sure you walk from one room to another. In a film the transition is cut to make sure you don’t lose the pace of the film. I have no idea how you resolve that conflict and make people feel that they’re still in control but I did feel it quite often while playing.

I suppose that really comes down to what the hell this is. It clearly is a game but it’s also straying into the area of more passive entertainment.

I had thought a game that you essentially just influence every now and then would be  a bit of an objective experience. That ‘s just wrong. Some of the action sequences suck you in purely because you don’t know when you’ll get to influence them, whilst simultaneously trying to take in what you’re seeing, digest it and getting ready to press triangle really fast.

It’s interesting that after mentioning moral choices in Mass Effect, they form the basis for how Heavy Rain works. There are decisions in there that I almost agonised over.  They clearly influence how the story develops as having seen adverts on the Telly, everything they’ve shown me is different to my first play through.

If you have spare cash then I heartily recommend Heavy Rain. It’s a game that you won’t regret playing but as soon as you finish it you’ll think “the sequel will be amazing”.


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