5 Reasons Not to Get Excited About Heavy Rain (Yet)
Is it just us, or is the incredible amount of hype for Heavy Rain a little bit puzzling? Sony clearly believes in the project, having allegedly cancelled some other very high-profile projects (The Getaway, 8 Days) to devote more attention to this game. What is it that the company sees in this title? Ever since its announcement at E3 2006, we have been fed a series of trailers that look intriguing, but don’t really tell us much about the nuts and bolts of the mysterious project. Of course, all of this might change as we get closer to the game’s release and we get a chance to learn more about the exciting new features that it brings to the table. In the meantime, here are 5 reasons that we are holding back excitement for Heavy Rain.
1. QuickTime Events
For a game that is meant to “redefine cinematic realtime entertainment” in this console generation, Heavy Rain is making use of some decidedly last-gen gameplay ideas. In the only actual gameplay footage we have seen so far, the action appears to play out through a series of quicktime events, in which players must tap the appropriate button at the appropriate time to get the heroine to do something important (like stay alive). We have been saying this for years, but it bears repeating: There is absolutely no way to make quicktime button pressing fun. Stop making these kinds of games, please, thank you.
2. The Graphics
In the trailers that we have seen so far, the graphics for this game, which by one account “sets a new standard for current gen,” look like many of the other titles we have seen for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 so far. In some ways, PS3 titles like Drake's Fortune already surpass the graphics seen in Heavy Rain. We like the cool depth-of-field effects that we have seen so far, but in other ways the graphics appear drab and gray. Heavy Rain appears to feature a lot of low-res textures, which undoubtedly contribute to the “uncanny valley” feeling that many current-gen games still suffer from.
3. The Story
Graphics might not be the best way to sell this game to the masses, anyway. What we really want is a compelling story, hopefully one that is exciting enough to get us through all of the quicktime events the designers have planned. So far, we have a somewhat shy and depressed girl running away from a serial killer in a suburban house. We have seen this movie already folks, and it was called Halloween 2. Not to say that a good slasher flick isn’t entertaining, but if you are going to make the claim that your game breaks new ground in cinematic storytelling, you might want to shoot for something a little more highbrow.
4. The Studio
Heavy Rain is in development by French studio Quantic Dream. Their last game, Indigo Prophecy, was plodding, expensive, pretentious and littered with – you guessed it – quicktime events. The title did fairly well in Europe, but failed to sell enough copies to recoup the heavy amount of investment that publishers Atari put into the game, and this helped to contribute to Atari’s near-bankruptcy in 2007.
5. The Gaming Press
The gaming media and even the mainstream media are extremely excited about this game. Journalists have been shown a closed-door demo of the title, and have reported extremely positively on it. Does that portend good things for gamers when the much-hyped final product eventually arrives? Maybe, but just as likely, it will increase the expectations of gamers to unnecessarily high levels. A year ago, Sony needed a blockbuster game to really show the world what their console was capable of. These days, it is doing just fine without a massively-hyped title like Heavy Rain to provoke interest in the console. The problem with hyping a game too much is that even if the game is good (which we hope it will be) it risks disappointing fans who have been led to expect perfection.
Overall, we think that Heavy Rain shows a great deal of potential. If nothing else, Sony and Quantic Dream have mastered the art of marketing, by withholding as much information about the title as possible and allowing fanboys to fill in the blanks with their wildest speculations. Based on what has been revealed to the public so far, however, we will remain cautiously optimistic about the game. We hope that a playable demo or some more detailed gameplay information will be forthcoming soon, to help dispell any remaining skepticism.
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