Heavy Rain Preview
Despite what we have in terms of media – scroll down to the end of the preview to find the three gameplay videos we have thus far – many people still ask the very same questsion: “what is Heavy Rain?” Well, we could easily point you in the direction of last generation’s Indigo Prophecy because if you’ve played it, you’ll quickly understand the gameplay concept of Heavy Rain. Essentially, developer Quantic Dream wants to focus almost entirely on storyline and character development, which is exceedingly rare in this day and age. There’s only one potential stumbling block with this approach to game creation: if the player isn’t interested by either the story or characters, the entire experience becomes boring and tedious. It’s like failing to connect with a book; if you’re not drawn in after the first few chapters, you simply don’t care about what happens to the characters, or how the plot spins out. But even so, you have to applaud Quantic for taking this significant risk, especially in an industry where sequels and spinoffs typically rule the sales charts.
First of all, let’s clarify one aspect of Heavy Rain- the open-ended style. Yes, you are following a storyline so you can’t just wander around a huge world, doing anything you wish at any time. But what you can do is make dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of decisions throughout the telling of this story, which means that no two play-throughs should be the same. Therefore, even if it comes out that the game takes only five or six hours to complete, you have every incentive to replay it simply because your second experience will be entirely different from the first. In the videos below, you will see that the detective has options when it comes to extracting information from the big dude, and obviously, your decision will dictate the ensuing set of occurrences. And although Quantic hasn’t confirmed it yet, the popular rumor is that there won’t be any such thing as “death,” but failure to perform a task will simply alter the storyline. In other words, this would mean that if you can’t fend off that guy with the lead pipe, you won’t simply try again…you’ll just continue on, moving forward on a different plot branch. If true, it’s very cool.
If not, we’re still left with an extremely compelling adventure. QTEs are the name of the game and if you’re not familiar with the Quick Time Event, just watch those videos or play Indigo Prophecy. These are similar to what we saw in God of War and Resident Evil 4; during a mostly non-interactive action sequence, button prompts will pop up on screen, and you have to hit the correct button quickly. If you do so, the character will perform admirably and gain the upper hand. So when Triangle comes up and you press it in time, the character may roll out of the way of a potentially crippling attack. Next to the decision making, this is the crux of the gameplay in Heavy Rain, and it turns this beautiful game into one long cut-scene that you control. But wait, we’re not done- there’s an investigative aspect to the game, as you will step into the shoes of a detective for a part of the game, and it’s his job to uncover clues. You will have to do some pretty nifty police work if you wish to discover the necessary information to progress, and Gameplay Video 1 will show you how it’s done. As you can see, it’s a seamless approach that fits in nicely with everything else; there’s really nothing “traditional” about this title, and we gots no problem with that.
In analyzing the videos and the information we’ve received, we have a little difficulty in understanding why that woman in the Blue Lagoon trailer dances in a nightclub and then strips down. …not that we’re complaining, or anything – that chick is smokin’ – but we don’t really understand the purpose of it just yet. However, you can be certain of one thing- no matter what you do in this game, it will indeed have a purpose and further, it’ll likely have direct consequences. As is, the game looks absolutely incredible. Character detail is intricate and appealing and the backdrops are all meticulously crafted; Quantic Dream has already said that such a project can “only be done on the PlayStation 3.” The only other major question we have at this point concerns what appears to be the two main characters: will we choose who to use through one play-through or will we switch between them from time to time? If we remember correctly, you could select the character you wish to see at certain points in the Indigo Prophecy storyline, so we figure the latter scenario is most possible. But either way, we’re certain we’ll want to replay for the sole purpose of seeing things in a different light.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of Heavy Rain at Sony’s press conference yesterday, and that in turn makes us wonder about the release date. As far as we know, it still holds a TBA 2009 launch, but as it didn’t make a big splash at E3, we’re worried that it may have slipped to 2010. But for now, the official word is that it should still release later this year, so we’ll cling to that. It’s easily one of the biggest PS3 exclusives in the hopper, and here's over 8 minutes of gameplay to keep you excited!
6/2/2009 Ben Dutka