Heavy Rain is a game about being a nearly completely interactive drama. You may think “why not just film a live action movie rather than make them virtual”, but there are so many different endings to see that make this game far more than just a simple play-by-numbers interactive movie (which is what people are fearing the worst of the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII).
But while trying to be like a popcorn thriller, game, and imitate life with a variety of choices, this title falls short of one area: the gaming. Technically it is a game, you do push buttons, but you could also buy all the scenes and outcomes on a DVD and hit play for a similar effect.
It boils down to three concepts: cutscenes/graphics, gameplay, and interaction. And here is where I think a few recent/upcoming titles strongly showcase a few of these concepts:
Interaction – Heavy Rain Cutscenes – FFXIII Gameplay – Mass Effect 2 (the level design is what people harp on, but perfect gameplay like World of Warcraft and RE4 don’t feature chat or choices)
*NOTE: I know I’m leaving out “chat” as a concept, but when I replay ME2 the chatting is only a way to increase paragon or renegade, while Heavy Rain allows all choices to be open at all times – you’re just not talking to someone all the time.*
Someone could say Heavy Rain fails at gaming, some will probably say FFXIII will be too linear and too much like a movie, and choices in ME2 don’t really affect the story until the final act with the truly different endings being limited.
Games that offer no choices from here on may be looked at as “classic” or boring kinds of games. Games that are too heavy on cutscenes will be seen as movies with buttons. And a state of perfect gaming will be meaningless without a great story to draw us in (Crackdown 1 comes to mind).
Heavy Rain succeeds at showing that interaction, choices with impact, and wildly different endings are very much possible in games. And that they can make a game with poor gameplay still very much enjoyable.
If interactivity with the unfolding story in games becomes a gold standard for greatness, we’ll have Heavy Rain to thank.
|Look/change direction||Left Stick|
|Main “use” control||Right Stick|
|Pause the game at any time but the loading screens||Start|
|Look at control help at any time||Select|
Really that’s all you need to know.
The game is half investigation of items and half QTE’s (quick time events).
Investigation is just you finding the places you are supposed to find.
QTE’s are the chase, fight, and action moments.
#1. Never let go of the controller unless the game is paused.
#2. Walk by holding R2, but you don’t need to hold the stick in the direction you are walking. Though, the game does seem to be very keen on when you do and the camera changes. Think of walking as a kinda rail that you can alter.
#3. Know how to change camera angles (L1).
#4. Subtle motions and slow taps are fine. Just like the Wii, you don’t need to flail the Dualshock around or mash X a million times (though you may want to for some of the more dramatic events). For the motions, it’s all in the wrists, your elbows don’t need to move.
#5. For trophies, you can replay scenes from the main menu, rather than start a brand new game. Just keep in mind you can only have three games saved. Like if you do good but fail at the warehouse, just finish on your messed up game and then reload from before the warehouse for a completely new set of endings.
#6. Always take a second, a full second, to identify the action on the screen, then execute. Only a few choice actions (possibly helped by shotty camera placement) require faster reaction. I’m saying that it’s always bad to go with your first instinct when you see an action on screen.
#7. You may have to press five buttons down at the same time, and not in an easy order of progression always.
#8. Almost anything you consider a mistake can usually be corrected in a “second chance” sequence not long after. So just play on, there is not one correct way to complete this game.
#9. Let go of the stick after completing a motion or action. Just to help in the next action.
#10. Press SELECT to help learn the control motions. I played the game on “hard” first, didn’t take notes, and made this guide while on normal.As far as the difficulty, I really couldn’t tell a difference. Maybe a few of the combo presses are shorter, maybe your window to press is wider, or maybe your fails don’t hurt so much.But there are no trophies for difficulty, so feel free to go easy, no one cares.