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Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3) artwork

Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3) review


"It almost seems unfair to criticize Heavy Rain for not being a legitimate game since, to its credit, it never claims otherwise. Quantic Dream have been pushing it as an “interactive drama” since day one, and a trophy you earn early on during the story even labels it as such. As a well-documented traducer of the adventure genre as a whole, it’s a little weird that I even bothered to play Heavy Rain in the first place, considering that my biggest complaints about the title (namely, t..."



It almost seems unfair to criticize Heavy Rain for not being a legitimate game since, to its credit, it never claims otherwise. Quantic Dream have been pushing it as an “interactive drama” since day one, and a trophy you earn early on during the story even labels it as such. As a well-documented traducer of the adventure genre as a whole, it’s a little weird that I even bothered to play Heavy Rain in the first place, considering that my biggest complaints about the title (namely, that any semblance of actual gameplay seems included more out of obligation than priority) I’d been anticipating anyway. The only reason I ultimately took the time to play it was because, despite my burning hatred for the genre, I’m genuinely interested in seeing the potential of gaming as an interactive storytelling medium, and that’s Heavy Rain’s claim to fame. Adventure games are tricky; they can make a strong case for the medium’s storytelling capabilities, but it’s all too often at the cost of the very foundations that make gaming what it’s supposed to be.

So while the fact that you have to hold R2 just to walk seems like something worth harping on –were you afraid a more conventional control scheme would make Heavy Rain feel too much like an actual game, Quantic Dream? – I knew perfectly well what I was getting into here. Instead, then, let’s discuss Heavy Rain as an interactive narrative, and why it fails at that, too.

Heavy Rain is a gritty murder mystery concerning the identity of the notorious “Origami Killer,” who murders young boys, only operates during rainfall, and leaves an origami figure at the scene of every crime (although the last two points don’t really get along, because wouldn’t the paper get soggy?). Players control – and I apply that word as loosely as I can – four different characters whose lives become entangled in the heat of the latest case. Ethan Mars is still recovering from the death of one of his sons a couple of years ago when his other son gets kidnapped by the Origami Killer. Chubby detective Scott Shelby is one of the people investigating the case, as is FBI agent Norman Jayden, who’s equipped with a pair of super-advanced sunglasses and a hilariously awful Noo Yawk accent. Finally, there’s a female journalist named Madison Paige who shows up from time to time and then disappears when she realizes she's not as important as the other three.

The extent of the whole “interactivity” thing that gaming is supposed to be based around is limited to slowly and delicately walking your characters from one piece of exposition to another, and then participating in a nearly endless string of quick-time events once the cutscenes fire up. Nearly every action your characters perform – whether you’re opening a drawer or taking a drink or whatever – requires a swivel of the right analog stick, and conversations often can’t continue unless the player hits one of the face buttons to select a phrase or tone, thereby sending the exchange in the direction they desire. The idea is ultimately to tell a linear story that’s dependent on player participation, and that is ultimately shaped by the player’s choices and actions.

Heavy Rain’s play time is spent switching between the four protagonists, each playing a vital role in exposing the Origami Killer. Whatever the unique circumstances of each individual play-through – and there are plenty of ever-popular “moral choices” in which to engage – this is still a linear process. Characters find the same clues in the same order, and the identity of the killer always remains the same.

That’s okay if Heavy Rain’s magic is in the fine details, yet for all of the game’s hype over having long-running consequences for all of your actions, I never picked that up. Early in the story while playing as Jayden, I had the option to shoot a man who was threatening the life of my partner. I did it, and was treated to a brief shot of Jayden (who had never killed anyone before) looking awestruck over what he’d just done. In the next scene, the two are in a car, and Jayden’s partner tells him that killing is something that only gets easier… and then the matter is dropped and never brought up again. It’s one of only two or three incidents in the entire game when you’re given the option to kill someone when you don’t necessarily have to; shouldn’t it be more effectual to the characters and events than this? All of the big moral choices are treated in similarly episodic fashion, where the writers dwell on the consequences of your actions for a brief moment before dismissing them and moving on. Since the plot will more or less always go in the same direction, all you’re ultimately doing is determining who lives or dies during the big finale.

Didn’t Mass Effect 2 do something awfully similar a month earlier? Come to think of it, isn’t this generally what BioWare have been doing with all of their games since the last console generation? Yes, it is. The difference is that their games have the additional advantage of being deep and immensely enjoyable even when you brush aside anything remotely plot-related. If interactive storytelling is truly the only trick up Heavy Rain’s sleeve, fine, but you had better make sure you do it damn well, especially if you’re going to forsake the notion of gameplay in the process. Yet for all of the hype over Heavy Rain offering consequences for your actions, it’s telling that other, more complete games have done the same thing – and earlier – without even trying. You can see why I’m not impressed by this argument.

And while Heavy Rain’s plot is told with style (this 24 fan digs the excessive use of split-screen), the sad irony is that something like Dragon Age is infinitely more an interactive narrative than a game like Heavy Rain will ever be, since you’re given constant control over everything your character says and does. Nothing ever changes your characters’ motivations or mindsets in Heavy Rain, no matter how you choose to present yourself; if anything, far more rests on your ability to complete the countless timed button prompts. Two major characters died during the finale of the game I played, but only because I failed a couple of last-minute quick-time events, and since there is no "game over" screen, dead is dead in Heavy Rain. My failure had nothing to do with the choices I’d made prior to the ending, unless that was karma coming back to bite me in the ass. If anything, I’d made quite a few questionable decisions, yet things seemed to be working out well regardless. How is that interactive storytelling, if my (presumably correct) decisions can be made moot in an instant if I fail some stupid, arbitrary reflex test?

I guess you could make a case for the quick-time events themselves being a product of immersion, and that’s occasionally true. Ethan’s part of the story involves being put through various tests of motivation left by the Origami Killer (usually involving moral dilemmas or self-mutilation), and these sequences comprise Heavy Rain’s best moments. The game’s most brilliant sequence has him racing five miles down the wrong side of a highway, with the player jerking the Sixaxis every which way to keep him alive. It’s a riveting scene, precisely because we’re not given full control. We’re gamers; we’d feel comfortable if we had full control. Ethan is just an ordinary man, and our panicky movements mimic his own fear. Later, there are a few scenarios (all curiously involving a central character trapped inside of a car) that have genuine life-or-death consequences if the player doesn’t exercise quick thinking and quicker action. I hate to use this old cliché, but these scenes quite literally had me on the edge of my seat.

But they’re the exception, not the rule. Even putting aside issues with the quick-time events’ functionality – button prompts are too often obscured, shown from awkward angles, or too fuzzy to read properly – they rarely feel like anything more than an excuse to justify Heavy Rain’s existence as a game rather than, say, a movie or a miniseries. Every trivial task, such as when a character needs to pull something out of his pocket, is assigned an arbitrary tug on the right analog stick, and in most cases the cutscenes can’t even continue until you execute them correctly. This isn’t interactivity; all I’m doing is giving the story permission to continue. It’s like I’m operating a projector that requires a reel change every few seconds.

The game’s fans cite the quick-time events as immersive, yet for me they had the exact opposite effect: They constantly pulled me out of the experience. You immerse me by giving me mechanics. Heavy Rain has no mechanics. Its action scenes, for example, are nicely shot and choreographed, but as they're unfolding, I'm off in another room playing Simon Says. You immerse players by giving them a direct role in the action, not by repeatedly shouting, “Hey you! Hit this button on that controller which is in your hands!”

Heavy Rain is already notorious for getting off to a painfully slow start – the bulk of the prologue is spent performing everyday tasks like taking a shower and setting the table – but the story does eventually get good. I give the writers credit for coming up with an answer to the central mystery that took me by complete surprise, and for giving the Origami Killer motivations that are logical, yet somehow also completely insane. I keep telling myself that if Heavy Rain were to be made into a film, by removing the pretentious quick-time events and cutting out all of the needless filler, it would be a much better fit. But even then, it wouldn’t be a great movie. It’s still a murder mystery, and how many of those have we seen? It’s got a good plot, sure, but hell, just last week I saw a little Korean movie called Mother that had more red herrings, presented an even cooler “big reveal” and explored more interesting complexities of human nature. We need to stop pretending that anything here is at all out of the ordinary.

So it’s a game that isn’t a game, an interactive drama that’s no more interactive than numerous other (more entertaining) titles, and a storytelling experience where the story isn’t good enough to justify all of its other grave missteps. I rented Heavy Rain hoping it would turn my abhorrence for adventure games upside-down; instead, it simply exemplifies everything I hate about the genre.

P.S. Heavy Rain is supposedly set in Philadelphia. Well, I live in Philadelphia, and that is not Philadelphia. Good day.

Rating: 3/10

Suskie's avatar
Featured community review by Suskie (March 31, 2010)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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Feedback

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espiga posted April 01, 2010:

Nice review. Several things though:

"Adventure games are tricky; they can make a strong for the medium’s storytelling capabilities, but it’s all too often at the cost of the very foundations that make gaming what it’s supposed to be."

A strong case?

"How is that interactive storytelling, if I my (presumably correct) decisions can be made moot in an instant if I fail some stupid, arbitrary reflex test?"

if I my?

"Heavy Rain is already notorious for getting off to a painfully slow start – the bulk of the prologue is spent performing everyday tasks like taking a showing and setting the table"

taking a shower?

That's all that jumps out at me.
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Suskie posted April 01, 2010:

All good catches. Thanks a lot!
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bloomer posted April 01, 2010:

I'm glad I read this. HG's review was as coy as a coy child with a coyness machine. (It's okay HG, I know you fully explained your stance.)
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zippdementia posted April 01, 2010:

Not a bad review. Not one I agree with at all, but it's not a flame review and I respect that. You point out the things that bothered you and, with a couple exceptions (ie. the low resolution? What are you talking about?) I think that all the things that bugged you about the game are there. They aren't bad things by their nature, but you explain why they are bad things to you without nonsensical bashing.

Well, for the most part. The Philadelphia comment seems pointless, since it's really not a focus of the game as to where it's supposed to take place. I didn't even know that it had a city designated to it. It's more subtle at other times, such as describing Scott Shelby off-handedly as a chubby detective, but it's there. Together with your statement at the end that you can't stand adventure games, I think it wouldn't be wrong to say that you aren't, and have never been, the kind of gamer that Heavy Rain was geared towards at all. And that makes it easy to write off your review as a fairly meaningless outlier, just like people here did with my review on SOTN and would surely do if I wrote a review about a sports game.

Which isn't bad, it's just good to know where your review stands. We need outliers. Otherwise statistics can't happen.

What's cool about Heavy Rain is that I totally expected these kind of reviews to be in the majority. I thought for sure that it would appeal to a very specific crowd of gamers. Yet, from my wanderings around the net and even some of my friends who I showed it to, who I didn't think would like it, the reality is more the opposite. That reviews like this are an outlier is pleasing to me, I won't lie. I was cheering for Heavy Rain from the start, and it seems to have made it.
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Suskie posted April 01, 2010:

Aha! Were you not the one who said, "Everyone should try it"? OH SNAP I GOT YOU NOW.

But yeah, I said something to that effect in my blog: I think the reason this is the only negative Heavy Rain review I know of is because most of the people who wouldn't like Heavy Rain know well enough to stay away from it. Although, yes, I'm surprised it's generally been received so well. I'd have figured more people would agree with me on this one, but it seems a lot of people genuinely love this game. And hey, more power to 'em.

I wouldn't look too far into the Philly comment; it wasn't even in my original draft, and I edited that in as more of a little personal note to end the review on.

As for low resolution: Sorry, but when I'm playing on a TV that supports 1080p, seeing a current-gen game running at a meager 720p (which I believe is the highest Heavy Rain goes) doesn't impress me. That's way too much of a nitpick to bring up when talking about any other game, but it's really punishing in Heavy Rain during those moments when the button prompts and orbiting your character and it's tough to distinguish the square icon from the circle because they're both too fuzzy. It's not a major or frequent problem, but there were plenty of moments when I selected the wrong option because I couldn't quite read the button prompts properly. (Granted, it doesn't help that they're constantly moving and occasionally obscured by the character model itself.)

Come to think of it, why do so few PS3 games support 1080p? I'd hate to get into a console debate here, but for all of the hype over PS3 being the technologically superior console, I can never shake how much more vibrant my 360 games look for the simple fact that they're almost always set at a higher resolution.
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zippdementia posted April 01, 2010:

Hey, though, aren't you glad you tried it, even if you didn't like it? ^_^

The resolution... really? I thought it did run 1080. I'll have to check. In either case, I didn't have any blurriness issues, except for the times when the buttons go crazy cause the character is nervous. That's odd to hear.

As for most games running low res, I don't know. I played on an SDTV until last Christmas so everything looks awesome to me. Depends on how long you've had HD, I guess. I know my PS3 itself is set to run 1080. Not sure about individual games.
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honestgamer posted April 01, 2010:

Heavy Rain and most PS3-exclusives (and non-exclusives) tend to run at 720P. On the Xbox 360 front, a lot more games tend to run at 1080P. However, most Xbox 360 units aren't capable of outputting 1080P. Microsoft has dropped support for it. The reality, then, is that most gamers are playing most games this generation at 720P, no matter what is "available" to them.

The complaint about higher resolution in the case of Heavy Rain is difficult to agree with because yes, 720P will display text and button imagery just as well as 1080P will. The reason for the difficulty in reading such things in Heavy Rain is that the developer made them that way intentionally in a successful attempt to add additional stress to situations that would have had less impact if it was always easy to press one button or another and obtain the perfect resolution. Things are out of control here in the real world and that's one area where the game did an especially good job of living up to its promise.
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bloomer posted April 01, 2010:

720p can't be called lo-res. In some countries it is officially considered high definition along with 1080. I would be extremely surprised if this was really the source of any difficulty in making out elements on the screen. The difference between the 2 resolutions is real, but small, because they're both very high resolutions for the material they're showing on the screens of the size they're designed to show them on. Though as TVs get bigger and bigger, they show up more pixels in 720.
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Suskie posted April 01, 2010:

Really? I can tell the difference in an instant. Like, FFXIII is one of the only PS3 games I know that runs in 1080p, and the difference between that and other PS3 games I've played is like night and day. Whether or not my inability to distinguish buttom prompts is due to a lower-than-ideal resolution or just flat-out developer incompetence is up for debate, I suppose; it was nevertheless a problem.

Jason, I wouldn't buy into the let's-make-our-game-less-playable argument if this were any other game, but honestly, I doubt Quantic Dream are above making a decision like that. One thing, though: Occasionally, during really tense situations, the text would shake wildly. That was intentional. Are you sure that's not what you're thinking of?
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honestgamer posted April 01, 2010:

I normally wouldn't try to sell it, Suskie, but it's obvious to me that Quantic Dreams was using such techniques intentionally. Theyw ould have made the text boxes larger if they wanted them to be especially easy to view, the way other developers do with both 720P and 1080P resolutions. The shaking that you're talking about is another part of that same effect, but it's not the only one. The circling text windows, the vanishing behind objects, the shaking, the small size... all of that was clearly intentional to contribute to that same overall effect.

Was going with 720P over 1080P an artistic decision? No, I absolutely wouldn't argue that. The fact that those text windows were occasionally difficult to read for the reasons referenced, though, was planned.

Edit: 720P is very much considered high-definition, even here in America where we pride ourselves on being nerds about such things. When you pay for high-definition television channels, for instance, you're often paying for 720P. I know that much for a fact. 1080P is better, obviously, but 720P is still considered high-res.
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randxian posted April 01, 2010:

How is that interactive storytelling, if my (presumably correct) decisions can be made moot in an instant if I fail some stupid, arbitrary reflex test?

Granted I haven't really played a game of this genre before, so pardon me if I sound ignorant. I'm not sure I understand the complaint here. One, how many games don't hinge on reflexes at some point? Two, did you honestly expect no consequences whatsoever for failing these reflex tests?

Again, this may stem from my lack of understanding this genre, but I really don't get this argument.
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zigfried posted April 01, 2010:

Knowing what to do, and successfully doing it, are two different things.

That may or may not have anything to do with Heavy Rain.

//Zig
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Suskie posted April 01, 2010:

Jason: When I said "decidedly low resolution," I meant in contrast to what was possible. Might not have been the best way to phrase that. Of course it's high def, but when the button prompts are too fuzzy for me to read, obviously it's not enough, at least for me. I consider this a flaw whether it was intentional or not. The shakiness I'm okay with, because it was obviously intentional and reflects well on the few situations in which it pops up.

Randxian: You're absolutely right, and this is something I should have made more clear in my review. Heavy Rain has no "game over." Anything that happens in the game as a result of your actions (or inactions) is permanent until you start a new game. So when nine hours' worth of decisions supposedly lead me to a conclusion, and all of my efforts to make things work out are made moot when I fail one or two quick-time events (out of many in each of those sequences alone), that's infuriating. Thanks for bringing up your confusion, actually; I'll see if I can make a sly edit to the review.
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randxian posted April 02, 2010:

Heavy Rain has no "game over." Anything that happens in the game as a result of your actions (or inactions) is permanent until you start a new game

Didn't think about that. I suppose in that context, the line above would make more sense.
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zippdementia posted April 02, 2010:

Except that it's not true, Suskie. You have the option at any time to go back and replay a chapter if you are unhappy with the results and want to change your decisions. I did that a couple times in my playthrough without any hassle. So saying that these things are permanent is really distorting the facts.
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zigfried posted April 02, 2010:

I'm picking up on an inconsistency from both sides.

On the one, the button cues are annoying and cause irreversible damage (except that it is reversible if you replay the chapter).

On the other, the button cues represent the uncontrollable nature of reality... but if you don't like what happens, you can go back and replay the chapter, which is completely unreal.

Either way, there is interference in the experience that the game tries to create. It sounds to me like the game would have been better with non-annoying button cues. That would reduce the number of chapter replays, which is by far a more jarring "this isn't real" moment than a button cue that is easy to see.

//Zig
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zippdementia posted April 02, 2010:

I don't think there's jarring points. Jason is saying, and he's right, that the button prompts are designed to not be easy to hit all the time. That's because the characters are in some pretty tough spots and the player has to be fast on their toes, making them feel like they are more in the moment.

The point of the game is that you can't fuck up. If you "fail" a test, it changes the story and the developers specifically advise people not to go back and try to "fix" those moments but to let them play out and see how it affects the game.

Suskie was claiming in his answer to Randxian, though, that even if you want to, you can't go in and change these things and I was responding that that is not true.

EDIT: To further clarify, I was never claiming that doing this doesn't break gameflow or immersion. Even the developers encourage you NOT TO DO IT for this reason. But the fact is that you can do it, and if you are simply unhappy with the way things are progressing, you have nothing stopping you from going back and changing those things.

I did it once when I decided that I'd made one decision based on what I wanted to see and not what I felt the character would do... and another time right at the end when a character got killed and I just couldn't deal with how sad it made me.
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Suskie posted April 02, 2010:

Hmm... I wasn't aware that chapters could be replayed, and I'm now trying to decide who's at fault for that. On one hand, if that's true, then you're right: Decisions and mistakes made in the game can be fixed. On the other hand, since there still isn't a "game over" screen, if I continue playing like normal without actively searching for such an option, I can get through the entire game without knowing replaying chapters can even be done, as I did.

Honestly, this doesn't change how I feel about Heavy Rain, if only because I get the sense that wasn't how Heavy Rain was supposed to be played. I mean, the people who praise this game are always so quick to play up on the fact that there's no game over screen, and as soon as I turn that into an argument against the game, suddenly I'm in the wrong because I could have gone back and fixed something? Which is it, guys? Does the game have consequences or not?

Here's how I break it down:

1. If I'm given an option to replay certain parts of a game to undo mistakes that later came back to haunt me, then the argument that there really are long-lasting consequences for my actions doesn't exactly hold a lot of wind.

2. If I ignore that option or don't even realize it exists, then the game still doesn't offer long-lasting consequences for my actions since everything I've worked for can immediately be cancelled out my failure to react in time to a few quick-time events.

Edit: I didn't see Zig's post beforehand, but he actually brings up a good point. I acknowledged right out of the gate that Heavy Rain fails as a game, and spent the remainder of the review discussing why its attempts to draw me in with "interactive storytelling" didn't work. As noted above, there are only two directions this debate can go, and neither works in the game's favor as far as I'm concerned.
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CRUSHedagain posted April 02, 2010:

Troll attempt is fail. Awful waffles.
I like you; you're a funny guy, Suskie.

Some of my favorite games are, admittedly, pretty terrible games.
Heavy Rain being one, it also, is nothing remarkable.
Actually, extremely poor in the writing department.
Plot holes, plot conveniences, dead end back stories, intentional deceit of the viewer/player.

When I hit the part near the end where you praised it for having a solid plot, that 3/10 got a 1/10 for credibility. TRY MOAR HARDLY!
You can do it.

Like, here's a joke.

Why did Ethan unconsciously wander to Carnaby Square?

Because David Cage is stupid poopy-head.
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Suskie posted April 02, 2010:

OK.
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zippdementia posted April 02, 2010:

That really says it all right there, Suskie. CRUSH just said it much more eloquently than I ever could.
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espiga posted April 02, 2010:

Hello everyone. I just played this awesome new game that I've dubbed the "Heavy Rain" killer. I decided to post a screenshot:


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CRUSHedagain posted April 03, 2010:

If - and that's a very skeptical 'if' - you could, say, purchase 200yen capsule toys in that game that you've posted a photomagraph of. . .
Maybe.
Maybe.
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overdrive posted April 03, 2010:

The HG Submission Feedback forum:

1. A group of a dozen or two of us who banter and bicker amongst ourselves about reviews.

PLUS

2. Occasional random accounts created solely to assault particular unpopular reviews of popular games in some way, shape or form.
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CRUSHedagain posted April 03, 2010:

Now see, that's a MODFAIL, OD.

It's been a few years since I've been around, and I couldn't find any of my old login information; so these days, I'm the same name, but cancer-free and switched up a little.
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EmP posted April 03, 2010:

'Twould be an easy process to recover said password -- all you need do is ask.

My thoughts on Heavy Rain remain unchanged from their initial cynicalism as I've still had no chance to play it. Perhaps the day that changes is drawing near. Perhaps.
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CRUSHedagain posted April 03, 2010:

If you're trying to give me back my cancer, you'd better karmatic shift by donating to Make-a-Wish.

Well you know, at this point, David Cage is the same as Peter Molyneux.
There are some changes, sure, by Heavy Rain is just an extension of Indigo Prophecy when it comes down to it. Goofy game with some terrible writing and random-ass glitches.

What can I say, though? It's kind of charming. I like it.
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wolfqueen001 posted April 03, 2010:

Haha. He meant your account. I don't think anyone oin their right mind would want to give anyone cancer. =P

But if what you're saying is true... does that mean you used to go under the name 'carcinogen_crush'? If so, then wow... it's been a long time. Certainly before I started coming around. I only know about you through seeing random reviews around site and old blog posts.
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honestgamer posted April 03, 2010:

Yeah, I figured out after his first post that it was carcinogen_crush back from the account graveyard, but I wasn't sure he wanted that to be shared everywhere. As noted, password recovery can definitely happen if desired.

As far as this topic goes, it does feel like people are ganging up on Suskie at this point and I'm never a fan of seeing that happen. When we reach the point of applauding others for zingers that they directed at the author of the review in question, we've probably stopped engaging in healthy debate.
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zippdementia posted April 03, 2010:

I don't know about that. People gang up on me here all the time. I kind of think its cute.

But there does get to be a point where I can see that a topic is just going in circles, with the two sides defending equally well completely different points that really have no chance of ever changing either side's viewpoints.

The thing is that people in general, and that definitely includes those here at Honest Gamer, tend to dig in when they've made a decision about something and very rarely will they ever change those opinions. I don't know if it's just human nature (which is generally stubborn about changing its views, because that's tiring) or if it has to do with the reviewing community and how much time we spend building our opinions and defending them, but it usually results in these kind of topics, which are interesting for a while and then just turn into both sides blathering about how right they are.

That's just how things are. I'm okay with that. I'm also bored of this conversation so I'll be moving on to other things now. It's gonna be a crazy week for me, so I might drop out for a bit... finish my Parasite Eve 2 review... the ROTW tomorrow... and then just stay quiet while I get my work done.
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randxian posted April 03, 2010:

As far as this topic goes, it does feel like people are ganging up on Suskie at this point

Perhaps, but I hope Suskie doesn't take criticism too seriously from someone who runs around yelling "TRY MOAR HARDLY!"

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Suskie posted April 03, 2010:

Wait... so that's Carcinogen Crush? Damn man, it's been a while. Almost before my time. Almost.

I don't get the sense that people are ganging up on me at all. The only person who's making serious challenges to this review is Zipp, and I certainly can't blame him for wanting to defend one of his favorite games, so long as he remains intelligent and well-mannered about it (which he is). As for Crush... I can't even figure out what he's trying to say. Does he agree with me or does he like Heavy Rain? Am I a troll or not? I'll start listening if he says something worthwhile, but for the moment I'm just sort of tuning him out.

Honestly, I liked the discussion we were having, and seeing as how I have very complicated feelings about this game, I'm more than happy to clarify any subjects y'all are willing to bring up.
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overdrive posted April 03, 2010:

I consider it my goal to have a least one MODFAIL per week.
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zippdementia posted April 03, 2010:

Note, too, that my boredom with the conversation has more to do with the fact that, if I don't get bored with it, I'm going to keep having it... and that will leave me screwed for everything else I have to get done.

I'd be happy to come back to it, later, though.

Also, just a clarification: though I mean everything I said above about the nature of human stubbornness, One of the nice things about Honest Gamers is that we seem able to have these kind of conversations without hating each other or dropping into flame wars.

That's a huge plus, and it's really due to everyone here staying intelligent and considerate. So thanks for that.
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CRUSHedagain posted April 03, 2010:

I really do love you.
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zippdementia posted April 04, 2010:

Come over some time, we'll have sex. It'll be great.
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fleinn posted April 04, 2010:

Uh.. *chuckles*.. there are a few real issues with the game you could pick at, you know..

This is just my opinion, but the review reads as if you are occasionally, against your will, actually reviewing the game. You know, I can write a "balanced back and forth" on, say, Battlestar Galactica. And construct it in a way that never will tell you anything about the series. But still end up with explaining how I intensely hate everything about it, even though there are admittedly a few nice scenes once in a while..

But it's still not actually telling you anything about the series. And only really becomes valuable as a way to judge how hip it is with the, in this case, the Honestgamer crowd :p

This was a good line, though. Not because it's favouring the game, but because it touches on what the game sets out to accomplish:

"Ethan is just an ordinary man, and our panicky movements mimic his own fear."

Of course - the interesting part of that scene is that you can choose your own attitude before you start. Whether you're determined, fearful, or if you just decide to give up right there.. The game/story encourage you to decide this while playing. That's the interactive part, basically.

The same with the unnecessary killing, or the triptocaine addiction - it changes an episode or two later. But the message is mirrored in an event towards the end. The killing ends up being turned on the head with the last scene at the roof of the warehouse. The addiction is something that insists that the viewer should decide on more self-destructive fatality than self-preservation, for example. Or perhaps swearing to the job because of duty, or saving the boy out of a sense of redemption - or even a last deed. The combinations are up to you.

These things turn up with very large frequency in the game. And it is not easy to smuggle in that much ambiguity without losing direction and pacing, trust me on this one. :)
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Suskie posted April 04, 2010:

Well, see, this is the great thing about a user review: It doesn't hurt anybody. It's not affecting average press scores, it doesn't represent the collective opinion of any particular media output, and it is in no way "official." It is simply the organized thoughts of a man who didn't like Heavy Rain and decided to write about how he didn't like Heavy Rain. You can choose to take my words into consideration or ignore them. I never would have tried to get this posted as a staff review, even if Jason hadn't written one already. Because no, it wouldn't have been fair.

I do want to clarify something, though: While I'm generally biased against the adventure genre, I didn't rent Heavy Rain with a "this is going to suck and I can't wait to bash it" mindset. See, I'm not totally opposed to the idea of an adventure game being good. The trouble is that I find the genre almost fundamentally flawed in the sense that nearly all adventure games seem to exist for the sole reason of bringing to life some decidedly non-gaming idea on the part of the developer. Still, as I said at the beginning of the review, I'd be willing to forgive Heavy Rain for not being a real game if the storytelling aspects really were as good as they're hyped up to be. Trouble is, they aren't.

Funny thing, though: Very few of the complaints I bring up in my review would still apply if Heavy Rain's playable bits had more meat to them. I compared it to BioWare, my current favorite developer, who I think do a fantastic job of finding middle ground between interactive narrative and gameplay that's certainly engrossing enough to stand on its own. Heavy Rain makes the bold move of dumbing down interactivity to the point that it's barely relevant, and doesn't do enough to compensate for it. This was always going to be an all-or-nothing experience for me.

On a side note, I'm pretty sure all of Heavy Rain's most memorable scenes involved Ethan in some way. Like, the bit with the electric wires was also excellent. Though you couldn't realistically build an entire game around such material, so in a weird way, such sequences are improved by the matter of the rest of the game being so uninteresting.

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