Hands-On Preview: "Rain, rain don't go away. Please don't come back with yet another delay!"
When the PlayStation 3 exclusive Heavy Rain was first announced, developer Quantic Dream immediately began to hype their game as an industry changer thanks in large part to its Hollywood-style narrative. As such, much of the game has been kept under wraps for a long time with few tidbits regarding what it's actually about. What we do know, however, is that the story is about a group of normal people whose lives and circumstances have been altered thanks to a serial murderer known as The Origami Killer. While the game was under development though, one of the things that developer continued to stress though was that every decision made could affect the way the game's story played out and that if any of the main characters were to die, the story would continue.
By deciding to focus on character development and the game's story as opposed to actual gameplay, many gamers have been left wondering about whether or not the game would be any good or if it would play as nothing more than an interactive movie.
Truth be told, it's actually a bit of both. Similar to the company's last game Indigo Prophecy, character actions are controlled by a series of quick time events (QTE), so expect a full workout of your controller. For those unaccustomed to the system, when an action symbol prompts up on the screen, players are required to press the buttons on their controller simultaneously before a timer runs out. This, of course, leads to some awfully intense moments, such as the demo's Sleazy Hotel level which demonstrates how each miss can potentially change the course of the game.
However, while it does provide some intense moments, other times the QTE prompts feel trivial and forced as it did in Jacob's portion of the demo. Ranging from mundane tasks such as opening a car door to climbing up/down the side of a hill, this shows just how limited the player's interaction actually is. So if you're the type who would rather spend their time at a console fragging opponents over a wifi network, this may not exactly be the game for you.
That said, the game has a wonderful atmosphere. Borrowing elements from cinematic classics such as Double Indemnity and the Maltese Falcon, lovers of dark mature noir themes will instantly fall in love with the game. Everything that makes up a hard boiled detective story is there, from the thought provoking character monologues to the use of rain as a prevalent theme; the developers definitely did their homework and it shows.
However, it needs to be stressed that you absolutely cannot play this game on a standard television as game uses very dark black levels. It was difficult enough on my 1080P Vizio and so I can't imagine what it would be like on a SDTV.