Heavy Rain is the latest PS3 showcase from developer Quantic Dream, who are known for the criminally underappreciated Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit if you're outside The U.S.) and what David Cage and his crew have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. Easily setting a new standard for believable virtual acting, Heavy Rain is a visually arresting journey through a dark crime drama.
The technical strength of the PS3 is on full display here. Heavy Rain creates some of the most memorable locations, both physical and psychological, and proves that enough time and money can make anything look believable. Heavy Rain manages to string together enough carefully crafted moments with such excellent delivery that I was drawn into these characters more than most of my favorite films.
Heavy Rain uses smart cinematography and brilliant pacing to truly give it a cinematic quality. For many people, it will probably be distracting seeing so many different angles to the same scene, but it creates a mood which other games simply don't bother with unless it is a big finale. So much of Heavy Rain is predicated on the player's willingness to surrender themselves into its world, and as it is, Heavy Rain is a fully characterized world with terrific performances that serve to draw you into the scene.
That isn't to say Heavy Rain is perfect; there are a few too many moments that look rushed and the framerate becomes an issue towards the end. Certain character animations are re-used too frequently and some minor character model glitches cause major breaks in the immersion that almost take you out of the scene completely. None of these are deal-breakers, but don't expect it to be completely flawless either. Even with all these flaws, nothing is detracted. Heavy Rain still overcomes all of these shortcomings and creates a flow to the scene no matter how many different ways you watch it.
A good director will tell you that a scene is only as good as the soundtrack that accompanies the action. Heavy Rain took advantage of a full orchestra to create some of the most tense and terrifying moments that rival the dramatic tension found in an Aronofsky film. The music peaks at just the right moments and punctuates the scene perfectly. The main theme is used sparingly and the best moments in the game are memorable thanks, in part, to the great soundtrack that plays during the scene. The voicework is equally great, but the music really steals the show.