E3 2009: Heavy Rain

If you've ever played Quantic Dream's Indigo Prophecy, also known as Fahrenheit, you'll be happy to know Heavy Rain does not stray too far from the 2005 sleeper. In Heavy Rain, you play four different characters who are in search of a serial killer terrorizing a New England town in present day. The first character we come across is Norman Jayden, an FBI profiler, who has come to question a junkyard owner about a vehicle that could have belonged to the killer. We meet Mad Jack who may, or may not, have information about it...

What you'll find as you play is all of the characters destinies are intertwined. Each character has a certain weakness with Norman's being a dependency on a fictional drug. You'll find yourself using these characters, jumping in between the four, in different ways to obtain clues and information so you can solve the mystery. The are an abundant amount of actions and decisions throughout that can completely alter the way you play the game versus another player. Your character can die but the story and game will continue without him/her. There will definitely be multiple endings. Heavy Rain is mainly contextual based leaving you to decide the ultimate fate of your character.

The first thing I noticed about this game was how real the characters looked. It turns out Quantic scanned and motion captured 300 different actors/people for various crowd scenes. The technology is so precise, they even have the ability to capture eye movement, on top of the body movement, resulting in accurate, life-like motions. When you see Norman in game, that is what the actual actor looks like. Impressive. As we played through the demo, the control are going to take some getting used too. The demonstrator even told us the controls are not your traditional button movements. We followed a directional arrow using the right analog stick to open a car door while sitting. If you press it only half way, you can see Norman reaching but not completing the action. In most games, the left analog stick is used for walking motions. Here, using the PS3 controller, we used the R2 button. Left analog moves your head. If combined with R2, that's the direction you'll walk in. Still with me? Holding down L2 is your thought process. Four options will pop up around your head and correlate buttons to thoughts. Example, "X" was for more info on "car."

Norman has a scanning glove so you can analyze samples and evidence "on the spot" and receive the processed information in your sun glasses. We traveled to the garage pressing R1 to scan the area. Suspicious spots like foot and fingerprints will glow a whitish blue that you can investigate and will dim in color once looked at. After investigating and poking around where I shouldn't have been, we made our way out the door and find a very angry Mad Jack. We break out into a quicktime fight. I had a few tries to get out of there by fighting back and dodging, but, I was terrible at the quicktime and actually died! However, passing the controller to someone else in our group, I found that you can still miss a beat or two and continue with the scene. I didn't get to ask if a different scene would happen had we gotten every movement right.

I'm a fan of mystery and dark story lines and know that I will eventually get used to the controls. I look forward to learning more about the game and it's characters. Heavy Rain will release early next year exclusively for PS3.