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PS3 Game Review

Heavy Rain


Format: PS3
Sony Computer Entertainment
RRP: £49.99
7117191 49156
Age Restrictions: 15+
Available 26 February 2010

How far will you go to save someone you love? Experience a gripping psychological thriller filled with innumerable twists and turns, where choices and actions can result in dramatic consequences. Spanning four days of mystery and suspense, the hunt is on for a murderer known only as the Origami Killer - named after his macabre calling card of leaving behind folded paper shapes at crime scenes. Four characters, each following their own leads and with their own motives, must take part in a desperate attempt to prevent the killer from claiming a new victim...

Heavy Rain is by far the most immersive interactive game you'll have played so far on a console. Every action and choice makes a difference - even though it may not appear to at first - and will dramatically alter the ending to the game.

Throughout the game you play as four different characters Ethan Mars, an architect; Norman Jayden, an FBI profiler; Scott Shelby, a private detective; and Madison Paige a photojournalist. As the game progresses the character's lives crisscross thanks to the serial killer known as the Origami Killer.

In a city on the US east coast, young boys are mysteriously going missing, only to be found five days later, drowned in rain water, with an origami figure on their chests... The public is gripped by fear and paranoia. The authorities seem no closer to a credible suspect. And now another boy has disappeared - Shaun Mars. Amidst suspicion and anxiety, four people will follow their own leads in a desperate search for Shaun. They know what the cost will be if they don't reach him in time - but they don't yet know just how far they must be prepared to go.

The game is set in the near future, although if it wasn't for the introduction of Jayden's experimental augmented reality glasses (also known as Added Reality Interface, or ARI), you'd think it was set in a contemporary setting. Jayden's equipment allows him to search crime scenes for forensic clues as well as sift through files and evidence so far collected.

The idea is to complete all the quests, make the right decisions, ensure that all four characters stay alive - which is easier said than done - and find the Origami Killer. Even if some of the characters are killed or incapacitated in some way, you can still play the game through to the end.

The game play is a variation on the style where you have to press a button that appears on screen. So, for example while searching a house, you may see an up arrow displayed near a cupboard door. Pressing up allows you to open the door. There are also variations which include having to move the directional stick slowly (when you need to open a door quietly) or pressing a series of buttons in a given order, but making sure that all the previous buttons are still being pressed (which feels at times like a finger version of Twister).

While you can explore your surroundings, you also get long fight sequences. During these, you must press buttons shown on the screen as quickly as possible. While missing the odd one won't result in you getting killed, missing a lot can result in your death or injuring your character so that they appear visibly hurt in later levels.

When you are asked questions, or have an immediate decision to make, if you don't chose one of the options on screen (which move around in order to make your decision harder) one is chosen for you. Again, while it might not seem important at the time, every decision will impact in some way, how ever small, on the game play.

In truth the puzzles in the game are not overly difficult, but then I suppose they're not intended to be so. The fun in this game is going through the stories with the characters - characters that you will grow attached too as the plot develops. You'll also be tripped up on a number of occasions - I was convinced I'd worked out who the killer was on several occasions, only for the developers to pull the rug out from under my feet every time. And, as you build towards the conclusion, a shiver will run down your spine as everything falls into place. This feels more like an interactive movie than an actual game.

"But surely once I've finished the game that's it," I hear you cry. Far from it. Armed with new information you can replay this game making different decisions in a bid to unlock all the different endings and trophies.

The graphics are incredibly rendered and the cut sequences and game play are seamlessly blended - to the point where on occasion you won't realise that the game play has actually started.

You're really best playing the game on its hardest setting. The lower settings are there, I assume, for people who watch the game's owner and decide they'd like to have a go, even though they hardly ever play video games.

The music is also worthy of note. Normand Corbeil's score is impressive - even if a lot of it seemed to have been inspired by Howard Shore's music for The Silence of the Lambs.

There are extras, which are unlocked through the game. These include The Casting, shown at E3 2006 which was a test of the technology available (the actress in this would go on to play Lauren Winter in the game) and a couple of behind the scenes featurettes which show you what the main actors really look like (it was interesting to note that Madison Paige is the only character whose voice and likeness are provided by two different people).

Without a doubt one of the finest and most revolutionary games to be released on the PS3 to date.


Darren Rea

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