This month Official PlayStation magazine has the exclusive review of Sony's first exclusive of 2010: Heavy Rain. Subscribers copies are now in the wild so we can reveal the magazine has scored the game a stellar 9/10 and given it a coveted gold award.
With this in mind, we wandered over to OPM UK's office for a quick chat with the author of the review, Tim Clark (Editor-in-chief) to find out what led to his verdict on the game, in advance of our own review next month.
So, Tim, tell us about your review, why does Heavy Rain deserve a 9/10?
"Well, primarily I scored it high because I think it's really good. More specifically it's a tremendously exciting experience and exactly the kind of thing people who moan about there being too many shooters and sequels have been crying out for.
"It's also an amazing piece of technical craft. Visually it's right up there with Uncharted 2, and the stuff they do with the control system is incredibly bold. Far from being just a series of linked QTEs, it constantly toys with what you expect from it, regularly introducing new twists on the core mechanic, and is just incredibly exciting to play through. Can you tell I liked it?"
In the review you made a point of saying it would turn off as many people as it will turn on others - what is it about Heavy Rain that will divide gamers?
"Well, I think the people who may not get it are the ones who aren't willing to put aside the conventions they've built up from years spent playing traditional genres. As I said in the review, Heavy Rain isn't about grinding XP or hoovering up collectibles. It's about getting sucked into this genuinely intriguing noirish story, and the thrill of knowing your actions and decisions are making that story jag in different directions. That said, there are times when it's slow - deliberately so, for atmosphere and pacing's sake - which may annoy the kind of gamer who's perpetually in a rush."
This is very much a 'Sony game' isn't it...
"I think it is, yes. Sony has a track record for backing riskier, innovative projects from Ico through to LittleBigPlanet. We speak to people like Michael Denny and Shuhei Yoshida who run Worldwide Studios and they have a very clear sense of wanting to create a portfolio of exclusives on PS3 that runs from big blockbusters like God Of War III and Gran Turismo 5 through to more artsy stuff like Heavy Rain. Which isn't to say it doesn't matter if Heavy Rain makes money - everyone concerned wants it to be a hit, and I think it will be.
"The fact it doesn't use any assumptions from other games (in the sense of its control system, particularly - all you need to know is up there on the screen) I think makes it quite casual-friendly, particularly as the modern, real-world crime setting will feel very familiar to everyone. I'd love to see it really breakout and reach people who like watching thriller movies."
How much replayability are we going to get out of it?
"Well as soon as I finished my first playthrough I wanted to jump back and try doing things differently, so there's absolutely replay value there, although clearly once you've seen the big story twists, the 'what happens next?' motivation will be gone. And some scenes (you can pick and choose once you've completed it once) clearly have more replayability than others in terms of being able to affect their outcome.
"I didn't much want to replay the scene in which you cook scrambled eggs for a bereaved mother, but the big action beats - car chases, fights, a shootout - are really fun to experiment with to see what else can happen."
What about the sex and nudity - how did that work?
"Well for me it opens the whole debate up again, in a good way. Whatever Quantic Dream might say, the sex/nudity is absolutely designed to titillate - and I have no problem with that. When Halle Berry takes her top off in Swordfish, that's designed to titillate too.
"I think that it's about time the games industry worked out how it's going to portray sex. Why shouldn't it be a part of story-driven games aimed at an adult audience? The actual sex scene in Heavy Rain, which dips to black before it gets too sweaty, was a rare moment of the animation looking a bit clumsy.
"More interesting is the first Madison scene, where her vulnerability and your voyeurism as the player is underlined when things get a bit nasty. I expect it to be discussed a fair bit when the game comes out.
"Fundamentally though, Heavy Rain is a game of ideas that will excite players and get them talking about what they want from the medium. That's got to be a good thing. And in case that all sounds a bit wanky, I'll just repeat that it was tremendous fun to play from start to finish. "
To read the review in full be sure to get your copy of Official PlayStation Magazine UK when it hits news stands on 19 January 2010.
Look out for a GamesRadar Heavy Rain Super Review next month.
Jan 19, 2010