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Heavy Rain impressions - Flood warning!

by Steven Williamson on 11 February 2010, 15:31

Tags: Heavy Rain, Sony Computers Entertainment Europe (NYSE:SNE), PS3, Action/Adventure

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qav3a

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Impressions based on the short demo preview

When developer Quantic Dream created the unique thriller, Fahrenheit (AKA Indigo Prophecy) back in 2005, its experiment in interactive story telling almost paid off.

Commercially, Fahrenheit did sell very well, over 800,000 copies according to the developer. It's always exciting when a developer promises to push the boundaries of a genre and sure enough gamers were lured in by its dark storyline and unique cinematic audio visual experience. The slow gameplay in Fahrenheit and the extensive use of QTE's (quick time events) didn’t appeal to some and although we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure we felt that the developer lost the plot half-way through the game, where the story became erratic and the QTE's became less of a fun interaction and more of a chore. Nevertheless, it was a refreshing adventure and it gave us a good idea of the potential that the Quantic Dream team had for interactive story-telling.

Fast-forward to the present day and the developer's latest project, Heavy Rain. Though the Heavy Rain demo only gives us a mere snippet of what to expect when the full game lands later this month, it has left us somewhat underwhelmed.

There’s no doubt that Heavy Rain looks incredible. Some of the best character models and facial animations that we’ve ever seen in a video game are complimented by some excellent voice-acting and a strong script in this bite-sized demo portion. From this early first look it also appears that Quantic Dream has achieved its goal of giving Heavy Rain a movie-like feel. The impressive shadow and lighting effects, the persistent rain and the slow-pace of the demo creates a moody atmosphere that fits the intriguing story-line extremely well.

The gameplay, however, is sure to divide opinion. The slow pace we expected, after all we’re playing a narrative-driven thriller with a heavy emphasis on dialogue and interaction with its surroundings. But the Quick Time Events that we were subjected to early on, and the excessive amount of interaction -- for no other reason than we can think of other than to showcase the tech -- has already begun to irritate us somewhat.

Click for larger image

It’s this constant analog-stick wiggling to execute the most mundane of tasks, such as opening a door, putting your hand in your pocket to pull out some cash, starting the car by turning the key, or putting on your forensic glasses. It just gets a little tiring after the first few times and isn’t that enjoyable.