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For its time this game was good, but by today’s standards it simply doesn’t hold up.

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    Heavy Rain

    Rating: 2.5 – Playable

    For its time this game was good, but by today’s standards it simply doesn’t hold up.

    When Heavy Rain first came out in early 2010, it was a new experience that gamers hadn’t seen before — an interactive film noir where your own actions and decisions directly affected the plot. Writer and producer David Cage had done a few things before Heavy Rain, but this was the game that put him on the map. I played this game very soon after it first came out, and I definitely saw where the hype was coming from. There were some issues, but I looked past a lot of them because the game was definitely ahead of its time. Back in 2010, I gave it a solid 7/10. A good game, but not a great one. It was heavily flawed, but very much worth playing and I enjoyed getting the platinum trophy at the time.

    So with Detroit: Become Human getting released and Cage’s old games being free on PSN, I figured what the hell. Turns out nothing was fixed, which is just an abomination. The good things are still there, but not fixing a single problem with a port eight years later is appalling.

    "The killer is no ordinary murderer. He is intelligent, organized, and methodical."

    Heavy Rain’s major selling point is its plot. You start out playing as Ethan Mars, a successful architect living a successful life. He’s got the hot wife, the picket fence, the two kids, the pets, and just lives it up. After a few events meant to demonstrate the game’s unbearably bad controls and gameplay, tragedy strikes. One of his kids runs out in front of a car, Ethan jumps out to try stopping it, and both go splat. His kid dies, and Ethan himself goes into a coma for a few months.

    Not long after Ethan wakes up, we learn of the existence of the Origami Killer, a serial killer that’s been kidnapping kids around town and drowning them in rainwater. No violence, no struggle, just dead bodies and origami figures. One predictable kidnapping of Ethan’s other son later, and we’re off to Heavy Rain getting good. You’ll follow the plots of four characters in hopes of solving the crime and saving Shaun Mars before it’s too late. I don’t want to delve too into spoilers here, but the main selling point of this game’s gameplay is that you directly affect the plot at points with your own actions and decisions. If you mess up and a character dies, there are consequences. If you do things well, there are also consequences. You are very much able to get good or bad endings depending on how you play the game, and the first time through, it’s recommended you play through naturally with no guides. You can worry about things like trophies and other endings later if you so choose.

    The four characters you’ll play as are as follows.

    Ethan Mars is the main character, and comes off in the beginning as a prissy little upper middle class white boy who was born on second base and thinks he hit a double. He does eventually, and thankfully, get humbled in some extreme ways when the origami killer gets a hold of his kid. His plot line is basically having to go through five trials set up by the killer in order to learn where his son is. They all involve various forms of extreme actions that I won’t spoil, but needless to say I very much enjoyed watching this dude get abused all game long. He’s exactly the kind of guy our culture has come to hate, and for good reason. He does eventually learn his lesson, unlike dudes like this in the real world.

    Next up is Scott Shelby, a retired cop turned private investigator who is hired by families of the victims of the origami killer. You spend most of the game visiting these families, investigating old clues, and helping put the memories of their dead children to rest. It’s a very touching plot line from a solidly written character, and he continues to grow and evolve as the game progresses. He’s arguably the game’s best character, and one I very much enjoy playing as as events unfold.

    Norman Jayden FBI (that’s totally his full government name and no one is ever telling me otherwise), or NAHMAN JAYDEN FBAH BAHSTON EEH for proper English, is an FBI agent sent in by the federal government to investigate the town in an unbiased way and figure out who the origami killer is. He’s completely out of place in the plot, he has personal technology clearly only meant to show off what the Playstation 3 could do back in 2010, he spends the entire game getting the crap beaten out of him, his facial animations are glitched beyond repair, and he’s by far the most likable character in Heavy Rain. Yahtzee describes him perfectly; just assume he’s a time traveler from the future and all of his shakes are him paying the price for messing with the past. It’s much better than the old cop-with-a-drug-habit trope, and it’s a shame him and Ethan didn’t play opposite roles. Nahman Jayden FBI as the main character and Ethan as the cop getting his ass beat all game would have been much more fitting.

    Lastly is Madison Paige, the token female that exists in every David Cage plot. On a side note, Cage clearly heard this criticism before writing Beyond: Two Souls, because most of that criticism comes from how bad a character Madison Paige is. Madison exists solely as eye candy. She could be completely removed from the plot and nothing would change. She exists as fanservice nudity and to give the main character a token love interest. By itself this is okay, but to do this with a leading female character while making them completely irrelevant to the plot is just terrible writing. Madison is the low point of Heavy Rain’s plot and it isn’t close.

    There are tons and tons of side characters I could get into, but I’ll let you meet them for yourself. This also concludes the only part of Heavy Rain, the plot, that’s really good. Everything else ranges from average to puke.

    "You can’t keep going like this."

    Heavy Rain’s gameplay in 2010 was awkward, and not fixing or patching any of it for a port is laughably unacceptable. David Cage went way overboard with putting quick time events in the entire game, and it’s literally never good from start to finish. I’ll be engrossed in the plot and enjoy a scene, and suddenly I’m having to struggle with bad QTEs and garbage controls.

    And when I use the word "struggle", I mean it. Some games do the QTE immersion thing well, where they’re meant to make you feel part of the game. Heavy Rain is not one of those games. First and foremost, let’s talk about the movement. Normally this is simple. You press the left analog stick in a direction and your character moves. Simple, easy, effective. Heavy Rain decides that character movement should be done by holding R2 down while using analog, with L1 changing the camera angle and right analog moving the perspective. So rather than the game having an intuitive movement system, it’s a complete and total POS meant to make the characters feel "real". It fails spectacularly in this goal, and instead manages to be among the worst movement systems ever made. Mainstream reviews at the time hedged their bets and called the controls "clunky", because mainstream writers for anything write what they’re told to write. I thankfully don’t have that problem and will call Heavy Rain’s controls what they are: a big, hot, bloody, steaming pile of rancid feces that even flies won’t touch.

    And on top of that, you have bad QTEs in every single screen, with many of them using motion controls. Motion controls are a gimmick that never worked outside of an arcade, and history showed that it was a complete fad. So why wasn’t any of this fixed for the port? Why not tone some of this junk down? Lord only knows. This game is a slog to actually play through because of the controls, and it would have been much better off as a Netflix series. It legitimately gets in the way of what should have been a very good plot. I don’t want to dick around in every character’s department as a motion control tech demo. I don’t want to sit here holding 4 buttons down while pretending a Playstation controller is a golf club. Just let me play the damn game. Enough with the forced gimmicks.

    "You should be careful not to over-indulge in ‘you-know-what’. It can be dangerous. Very dangerous."

    Graphics and music…. man. I want to evaluate this game as a port and give some of the graphics a pass, but even by 2010 standards these aren’t passable.

    Remember Annoying Orange? Heavy Rain’s animations make that little twerp look like the work of Christopher Nolan. Go look it up if it disappeared into the ether for you. Or if you want a video game comparison, look up "Mass Effect Andromeda facial memes". For all the crap Andromeda shoveled, Heavy Rain’s animations were worse. But hey, at least the backgrounds are nice. The characters, not so much. There are also many, many reports of the Playstation 4 port being completely bugged on graphics. I never had this problem, but given the glitchy nature of Heavy Rain it would not surprise me at all if most of these reports turned up true.

    The soundtrack isn’t very long, but it gets the job done in terms of setting mood and atmosphere. The entire thing is only 40 minutes long and definitely worth a listen. It’s about as long as any other album and is much better than whatever trap garbage Drake is putting out and calling "music" these days.

    Something worth noting that doesn’t really fit in a review outside the graphics and music section is Heavy Rain’s voice acting. I don’t talk about voice acting much, so you know if I’m mentioning it then something truly atrocious has happened. Heavy Rain’s voice acting is so bad, so atrocious, so devoid of all emotion that it gets brought up in any discussion about bad voice acting, alongside such brilliant titles as Mega Man 8 and Wand of Ghamelon. It’s bad, and a text-based review can’t fully cover just why it’s so bad. It’s so bad in fact that I fully recommend everyone play this game just to hear how bad it actually is. Some deeply troubling moment will happen and the characters speak with the monotone enthusiasm of a Ben Carson speech on podiatry. It’s so. Freaking. Awful. And not in a meme-y way.

    "You have my respect."

    Heavy Rain gets a score of 5/10 from me, and that might be too generous given we had eight years to patch up some of this stuff for a port release and no one ever bothered. That said, the one thing this game needed to get right was its story, which does get very good about halfway through and covers up a lot of problems. Are there plot holes? Sure, but this was a very ambitious game for its time and wasn’t meant to be picked apart and played through 37 times.

    It’s a short and solid one-time play. Nothing more, nothing less.

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