Opinion// The Not Review: Heavy Rain

Posted 10 Feb 2010 17:54 by
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Whereas you can read our review of Heavy Rain over here, we also had other staffers and contributors who wanted their opinions aired. Firstly Mat Murray. You may know Mat from our SPOnGcasts. You may also know Mat from the Big Bother site or from Joypod, well now you know his thoughts on one of the year's biggest games:


Mat's Take
Heavy Rain, in my house at least, hasnít been talked about in the way a regular game would be. For a start, my girlfriend wouldnít want start a conversation about how Marcus Fenix should complete a level, or what tactics Master Chief should take to defeat the flood, or even why Blinx was shit. Course not. But Heavy Rain came into my house and caused a scene then left through the backdoor, tipping a bin over on the way out. The cheeky little tyke.

Ever since its conception, Heavy Rain has been talked about as the moment games and films finally go out for dinner, have a few drinks, and eventually end up in bed together, doing things until stuff comes out, and for me, itís worked. Sure, people will go on about the graphics being amazing Ė and they are Ė and people will talk about how cinematic the game is Ė and it is - but those arenít the main reasons it grabbed me. The biggest factor for me was how it made me feel, but also itís effect on others.

I had been playing one afternoon when my girlfriend came into the room. Usually Iíd just carry on playing hoping she would go away and make me a sandwich, but when playing Heavy Rain I found myself wanting to tell people whatís happened so far, why the characters are doing what they're doing, and saying ďdonít worry about that shower scene, Iím not getting off on it. She needs washing. Sheís been a very bad girl. Itís all part of the story, really!Ē

But seriously, I really did care what happens to the characters. I cared, and I wanted others to care as well. I was playing another time with my mate watching on the sofa and my mate had to leave the room for a phone call. When he got back he asked what had happened, and when does that ever happen with games? Itís just like what would happen if you need to go for a wee at the cinema. Except for the staring as you get up from your seat.

Every Quick Time Event (QTE) fight makes for an incredibly tense affair too. I didnít want my characters to die and the fact that they can all die and the story would carry on, makes the fights far more than just some buttons to press at the right time. As each fight goes on I could see the different ways of my characters getting killed with each passing swing, and frankly, itís scary. Anyone who says QTEs are a waste of time or dumbed-down the gameplay after playing this game is just plain wrong. And also slightly racist.

Iíve heard people saying that theyíve seen one scene, or played the demo and not got it. They felt the story was crap, and the characters didnít convey much emotion. Well to those people I say fuck off. If you watched one scene of a film, or one 10 minute segment from 24 then youíd probably feel the same way about those, but you donít. You see the whole film, or watch the entire series, then you judge the book based on itís colourful cover.

Judging this game based on a demo or seeing your friends playing one scene isn't only doing a major disservice to the amazing, believable world that David Cage has created, but itís not going to give you anywhere near the level of satisfaction youíd get from seeing the story out to itís thrilling conclusion. Much like any good book (for me at least) it takes an hour or two before the story really kicks off, but once it does itís relentless, fascinating, and frantic. The final few chapters really do have the feel of a page turner, and youíre kept guessing right up until the last scene.

Mat's Rating: 11/10, 19/21 or D.

---
Mark Johnson is SPOnG's senior writer. A true gamer... here's his alternate take.

Mark's Take
I thought I was going to love Heavy Rain. After I spoke with Guillaume de FondaumiŤre, co-CEO of Quantic Dream, I was infected by his enthusiasm. I was desperately hoping for a breakthrough in storytelling in games.

Then I played through a chunk of the game's opening in preview code we were sent and I was massively disappointed. I scoffed at having to brush Ethan's teeth, at having to wander around his living room looking for obscurely-placed plates. I pushed Ethan in directions he was not meant to go in and performed actions that made the whole experience look jarring and laughable.

I was not sucked in, I was turned right off. I'm used to having the first few minutes of a game wallop me - as with the likes of [PROTOTYPE] - with the best a game has to offer, not having to potter about in a bland mall that makes me want to swear off capitalism. Having played a bit further and watched a significant chunk of Tim's play through Heavy Rain, I am a little humbled by how involving this game that I judged far too early is.

Yes, Heavy Rain is not always successful in creating a fluid narrative experience. The mechanics of poking around an environment, spending far too long pondering obscure corners of a landscape or room, do not always lend themselves well to creating a seamless, well-paced interactive story. The form and structure of the heavily narrative-lead game certainly needs a little work.

But, in spite of all that, Heavy Rain is extremely gripping. Despite my early guffaws, I found myself deeply invested in the story, a fact that made the more dramatic moments of the game tense like in no other title I've played.

Sure, there are moments of high tension in other, more action-focussed games where you're on the cusp of winning through a really tough point in play. But in those games you know that, if you cock it up, you'll just go back to the last checkpoint and have another go. That tension is the product of frustration Ė or at least potential frustration Ė rather than emotional investment in what's happening.

In Heavy Rain, I genuinely did not want to see certain characters die. I did not want to fail (or, when I was watching Tim play, be a witness to failure). Sure, you can go back and replay sections of the game to get it 'right', but that's really not entering into the spirit of the title. Heavy Rain is far more rewarding when you go with the flow and accept the consequences of your actions.

When you roll with both your failures and your successes, Heavy Rain's an intensely exciting and involving experience Ė one that stands apart from any other time I've spent with a game. I take my metaphorical hat off to Quantic Dream for that.

Now, I'm off to [R1], [X] a bagel and [O], [L2] at the vending machine.

Played Heavy Rain or even shoulder surfed while another played it? Give us your opinion in the comments below.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

Want to vent your gaming spleen? Send 900 words max of well thought-out, deeply analysed opinion and we may even run it. Send in 900 words of incisive but mostly brutally angry invective, and we almost certainly will.

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Comments

Bungie 10 Feb 2010 18:53
1/16
This game is a crap sorry to say it but $ony is paying reviews , bad graphics, snore story, glitch fest. Japanese will never Achieve the level of American masterpieces, we Americans rule the videogaming world!
DrkStr 10 Feb 2010 19:12
2/16
Bungie wrote:
This game is a crap sorry to say it but $ony is paying reviews , bad graphics, snore story, glitch fest. Japanese will never Achieve the level of American masterpieces, we Americans rule the videogaming world!

I've not played the game, and neither have you, but I'm willing to give it a go if these guys think it's good.

Andit was made by French people, not Japanese you pillok.
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Z 11 Feb 2010 09:06
3/16
Bungie wrote:
This game is a crap sorry to say it but $ony is paying reviews , bad graphics, snore story, glitch fest. Japanese will never Achieve the level of American masterpieces, we Americans rule the videogaming world!


Your stupidity reflects on your fellow Americans, rather stop trying to vent your jealousy and immaturity before someone bitchslaps you into puberty.
Heavy Pain 11 Feb 2010 09:06
4/16
Bungle you gimp.
Allah the third 11 Feb 2010 12:00
5/16
Aren't demos supposed to give you a taste of a game and if you like it, purchase it? ok so if you didn't like it, you should still go out and dump £40-£50 on it?
So saying people should f**k off is a bit fanboy'ish. being a PS3 user that is to be expected I guess.
Tim Smith 11 Feb 2010 12:38
6/16
Allah the third wrote:
Aren't demos supposed to give you a taste of a game and if you like it, purchase it? ok so if you didn't like it, you should still go out and dump £40-£50 on it?
So saying people should f**k off is a bit fanboy'ish. being a PS3 user that is to be expected I guess.


Given that we leant Mat a PS3 to play the game on because he's actually an Xbox 360 user, I don't think you can call him fanboyish towards Sony's platform. The reason we did that was to see what a predominantly Xbox 360 user would make of Heavy Rain. It looks as if he liked it.

Cheers
Tim
Allah the third 11 Feb 2010 13:47
7/16
My apologies then, That statment just came across as the same type of argument he was against.
Ganesh 11 Feb 2010 14:18
8/16
@Bungie : lol go find your brain into hte toilet then wash it a little bit !

for Allah: I understand your point of view I mean I think like if the demo doesn't make me fell very happy about the software I won't buy it.

But heavy rain is quite a different game than other! like the guy say for a moovie if you see just one scene you won't understand what happen and then won't be IN.

I'm not telling you than every one should buy it and if you really didn't like the gameplay and graphique I think it's useless to buy it but it it's just I wasn't IN, I advise you to try it at least !

It's pretty cool to hear someone that speak clever not like our little American Fanboy ^^

Oh yes it's a French Videogame the same team that created Farheneit !!

French created cinema...
Tim Smith 11 Feb 2010 15:43
9/16
Allah the third wrote:
My apologies then, That statement just came across as the same type of argument he was against.


No worries - thanks for the apology, it's welcome and warmly accepted. Welcome to SPOnG!

I'm sure, when Mat rises from his sickbed, he'll respond himself. Glad I marked the Not Review as Opinion as well!

Cheers

Tim
easto1a 11 Feb 2010 15:49
10/16
since ive played the game and not just the demo thats out i can say this game is great and certainly worth a play
Tim Smith 11 Feb 2010 16:16
11/16
Ganesh wrote:
French created cinema...


Blimey. I mean, crikey. That's going it some. I thought cinema was invented in Yorkshire.

I jest of course... or do I? Press R1 then O the X then R2 L2 L1 to find out!

:-)

Cheers Tim
Mike 13 Feb 2010 04:40
12/16
@Bungie

With a name like that I doubt anyone'll take your opinion seriously.You seem like an angry fanboy that need to bash any PS3 exclusive games, if you were to ask me, people like you shouln't play video games because you obviously lack the maturity to do so. "Bad graphics" Have you even seen the game in action, doubt it. Just the demo was amazing, and it also didn't contain a lot of glitches, heck I didn't even saw one and I played it like 5 times already.
OptimusP 14 Feb 2010 08:51
13/16
Personally, I don't like the trend this game will create. If it becomes moderate succes, it will confirm my fear that HD-gaming is actually the return of the interactive movie from the mid '90s. The reason it didn't work then (albeit with some great efforts) is three-fold: sucky stories, sucky gameplay and sucky content. Now the story is a bit better, but you still got sucky gameplay and sucky content.

It's also what I don't like about Mass Effect 2. Half the freaking game is going trough conversations and only a few have the "punch the person in the face to get things moving faster" option. Dragon Age at least had fun addictive gameplay. Mass Effect gameplay, while technically perfect, isn't fun. My second run trough (the ending sucked donkeyballs) is becoming a real chore.

But what Heavy Rain really shows is how completely uncritical gamejournalists have made themselves be stuck in the "Videogames must be like Hollywood" narrative (one of many).
FIFA 10 fan 17 Feb 2010 18:28
14/16
How long do you reckon the story will be, in hours?
That is if you play from start to finish.
Tim Smith 18 Feb 2010 10:58
15/16
FIFA 10 fan wrote:
How long do you reckon the story will be, in hours?
That is if you play from start to finish.


My first play-through was about nine hours. Second one a great deal less due to decision making being simplified and some of the QTEs being easier due to having played before.

Cheers

Tim
nelson 13 Apr 2010 01:57
16/16
PERO QUE PAVO NENE, COMO VAS A DECIR QUE ES UNA MIERDA!! SEGURO QUE SOS FAN DEL GTA!! ESTE JUEGO ESTA ESPETACULAR, NO ES PARA PENDEJOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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