Friday, June 5, 2009

E3 2009: Heavy Rain Impressions

So, I've been in love with Heavy rain for a while now, everything about the game just screams perfection. The story, the presentation, the graphics, just everything. So, it's no surprise that when they showed the game at E3, I was going to be excited. What I didn't expect was for them to show a full scene from the game!

After watching this five part developer walkthrough of the game, I feel like they are making this game amazing. The whole thing seems a lot like Indigo Prophecy, Quantum Dream's last game on the original Xbox. However, they took some of the things in Indigo Prophecy that didn't work, and changed them or improved them for Heavy Rain.

In the walkthrough, they show one of your main characters. In the actual game you'll have 4 different main characters you can play as at different times in the story. Here you're playing as an FBI agent named Norman Jayden, and he's going to the junkyard to interrogate a man nicknamed Mad Jack. The demo starts out just walking around the junkyard. The interesting thing about these walking sections of the game is that instead of just using the left analog stick to move, you instead use the left analog stick to look around, and use the R2 button to move forwards. I personally think this is a very intuitive control scheme and helps give the character a much more lifelike and much more fluid animation.

So, Norman goes up, and talks to Mad Jack, and asks him a few questions. Jack says he doesn't know anything. So, then you begin searching around the warehouse using your special sunglasses that can scan things in the environment, and eventually, Norman stumbles upon a Skull in a pool of acid. At this point, Mad Jack comes back, with a gun, and puts it to the back of Norman's head. Now, we have a nice QTE sequence much like in Shenmue or God of War, But instead of losing if you miss one button press, you just go to a different string of events. Of course, if you miss too many button presses, then you'll die.

Norman ends up getting the upper hand on Mad Jack, getting the gun from him and pointing it at him. Mad Jack doesn't believe he'll actually use it, so you have a few different options now, to prove it to him. Of course, Norman starts having withdrawals from his drug addiction, making him fall over and pass out. Letting Mad Jack take his gun back.

After you wake up, you're handcuffed to the inside of your car, heading towards a giant trash compactor. There's a bunch of different actions you can take to try and escape. Also, the screen has now split in two, much like it does in 24. The bottom screen acts as a visual timer, while you control the gameplay in the top screen. It's this part that really sets the QTE system apart from other games, because in order to find the different actions you can take, you have to look around your environment. This looks like it'll create a much more frantic experience than your standard QTE system.

So, Norman ends up being able to escape from the car, at the last second, and now has to fight off Mad Jack, who isn't the happiest person in the world right now. This involves another short QTE sequence, in which Norman comes out on top. There's another possible way to do that part where you die, however, the developer has said the story would continue, even if all of the 4 main characters die, creating a ton of replay value with a very different, very varied branching storyline. I think this kind of emergent gameplay is exactly what the industry needs to keep moving forward, and this game is definitely a very good reason to get a PS3. Look for it when it's released early 2010.

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