I played the Heavy Rain demo and I got some thoughts.
The scenery looks great. David Cage, the big kahuna behind the game, at least got the atmosphere right. It’s heavy. And it’s rainy. It’s easy to say, with the constant rain, the disgusting urban setting, and the serial killer plot that Cage is aping Se7en, but since he apes Se7en’s look so well I can’t really complain. I’m a big fan of cities, rain and detectives in rainy cities, so when I saw those opening moments I couldn’t help but feel a swell of excitement.
Presentation-wise, Heavy Rain‘s solid. No heads-up display or doodads get in the world’s way, so the game’s very immersive. At first.
The tutorial that explains the controls classes things up pretty well. Pure white text hovers in the air or appears plastered on concrete detailing which button to press to interact with a car door or which combination of buttons to press to sidle across a wall. It’s all context-sensitive stuff, so there isn’t just one button dedicated to “hit” and another for “jump.” I think the word for that here is intuitive. This is how the Quick Time Events work as well.
Yeah, Quick Time Events. The Simon Says press-this-button-now-or-else baloney made famous first (?) in Dragon’s Lair, given a name in Shenmue, then abused by God of War, Kingdom Hearts and the recent Resident Evils, Metal Gears and Legend of Zeldas, and uh, gosh, nearly everything these days I guess. So it’s like they don’t even matter anymore. Done well, like in Resident Evil 4 they can offer an arcadey thrill. When that’s all there is, that can get pretty dull. And besides walking around and interacting with car doors and muddy hills, that’s all there is in Heavy Rain so far.