As we mentioned earlier, though, it could all have been very different. Cower in the back of the store and eventually the guy behind the counter gets a bullet in the head when he refuses to hand over the cash. Successfully sneak up on the robber and you can take him out by force. Or you can talk him round without any violence. Either way, Shelby gets his evidence, but Quantic Dream is hoping that Heavy Rain will make you consider your actions and empathise with your on-screen characters.
The game is certainly more concerned with character interaction and atmosphere than it is about thrills. A second demo level, shown to us behind closed doors contained no traditional action whatsoever – it was just Ethan Mars looking after his son and reminiscing about the child he lost two years earlier. David Cage, founder of Quantic Dream, is hoping that these openly human scenes will help the player form bonds with the characters and keep the game grounded – making it feel more like a piece of interactive cinema than what we traditionally think of as a videogame.
He’s also keen to point out that the game isn’t all about Quick Time Events. Each player movement is context sensitive, so you can’t just pick a book off a shelf unless the button prompt appears. However, we’re yet to see any scripted moments where you have to press X to not die. Even the Mad Jack fight sequence shown at E3 was all about context sensitive commands rather than QTEs. This may seem like splitting hairs, but to describe Heavy Rain as one long Quick Time Event is to do it an injustice.
Regardless of how interesting the plot turns out to be (Heavy Rain will live or die by its story) this game will stand out as a pioneer in the move to bring emotion, and by turn, realism into games. In parts, interesting, offbeat and oft willfully banal – but only the most conservative gamers need shelter from Heavy Rain.
Sep 30, 2009