Heavy Rain: Good times are subtely reflected through nicer weather

Heavy Rain: Good times are subtly reflected through nice weather and better fashion choices

Despite the breakthroughs made in motion capture and photorealism, Heavy Rain’s greatest achievement is arguably making you empathise with a man wearing combat pants. Clearly, Ethan Mars is a man in emotional turmoil.

Heavy Rain subscribes to the early idea that journalists can afford huge loft apartments, that nightclubs are filled with good looking people having a great time, that cops will break the rules to get the job done and that good looking women must strip off; it’s essentially the greatest film that Joe Esztherhas never wrote. And while there have been countless simliar experiences clogging up the bottom shelves of video shops (ask your dad) for years, as a videogame it feels fresh and unique. It’s not just Michael Douglas’ choice to shoot the wrong person then have a soft focus sex scene; now it’s yours too. Hurray!

Holding a button down to move your character gives you the same feeling of acceleration that you would experience in a driving game. Though in this case you’re driving an overweight, asthmatic detective down the narrow corridors of the kind of dingy motel that Craig Charles might avoid for sanitary reasons. But it kind of works -the only real issue is that you’re not always aware of what the results will be of the vague on-screen prompts, so you’re often left curiously pawing at the actions like a chimp on a dance-mat.

One scene saw my protagonist trapped in a car filling up with water. Next to them lay an unconscious passenger. I was putty in the director’s hand, my choice, a classic emotive dilemma: do I move the thumb-stick directly to the right or follow a more laboured but pleasing semi-circular path? After what seemed like an age of searching my soul for a solution to this moral quandary, I pushed it to the right. My character hoofed the windscreen out and legged it. It turns out the semi-circular loop would have saved my passenger. Oooops.

But these are just minor flaws in what is otherwise a satisfying and immensely engaging experience. And despite whatever plot-holes might exist, the branching narrative must have been a bitch to write, especially as the creator’s French and so probably had to research what Americans breathe instead of Gitane smoke, and how they keep warm without berets and scarves made of onions and that.

To be honest I never really noticed any plot-holes, probably because my brain activity dips to subsistence level when I’m playing and I need to leave myself visual prompts to remember to breathe. In fact, I can barely remember what happened in Heavy Rain in general, despite the totally depressing ending, which, when you consider that every action you make cuts out a whole heap of other scenes, is probably reason enough to play through it again.

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