We've finally gotten the chance to play a few hours of Heavy Rain. Want to hear what happened? Good, because we want to tell you. Oh how we want to tell you.
Published: December 14, 2009
Ethan is just the first of four main characters, though, and the game quickly shifted gears again to FBI profiler Norman Jayden, who took to a crime scene in the middle of a nighttime downpour that quickly revealed itself to be another of the Origami Killer's victims. The body had the telltale origami figure placed on it, as well as the apparent presence of some pollen -- handy because Jayden's specs were good for more than just making him appear cooler than Corey Hart, they could actually pick up scent and pollen trails still lingering in the air. Coupled with his glove that could instantly read DNA and acquire information from samples on the ground just by touching them, and a link to the FBI database for later perusal, he was able to scoot around the train yard crime scene sussing out clues in whatever order he chose. Here too, we managed to find deviations in our separate playthroughs; depending on what order we investigated everything from the body to blood stains to footprints, the dialogue choices between Jayden and the cop heading up the investigation would skew. Scooping up all the evidence would lead to slightly different responses, whereas missing some or starting the chat earlier would leave the parties in the dark a little.
Jumping back to Ethan, though, we found it was even more morose than before. The marriage in an apparent shambles, Ethan was stuck with joint custody, and when one of his sons came over after school, we had to busy ourselves with being doting and keeping them on task. Again, if one were to push study and meals over letting the kid just be a kid, it could lead to a soured relationship that was already strained by his distant youngin'. Letting him watch TV or go to bed later offered different responses, though when it came time to tuck his son into bed, Ethan suddenly blanked out, waking in the middle of a downpour with... an origami figure in his hand.
This is a bit out of order, of course, but for the sake of breaking things up, the game does swap characters around. The final few moments of our time with Ethan left him in a moody park trying to cheer his son up, and then another incident had him going missing before everything got all topsy-turvy again. It's hard not to detail everything, but we're already teetering on the edge of spoiling much of what can draw you into the story (or at least hooked us), so we'll leave things vague. Suffice it to say, Ethan's sections are excessively plodding and rife with moments where a wrong move could ruin a strained relationship, and as such are obviously the crux of the paternal emotional thread of the story.
So back to Jayden, where things are notably more high-tech and business-oriented. Arriving at a police station where he'll be assisting the local authorities, we met the Chief of Police, helped fix his tie (one of the apparently many sequences where holding R1 starts of chain of buttons that must be either pressed and held using more and more fingers or where actions have to be followed in sequence to match the actual movements of the character) and then sat in on the press briefing about the Origami Killer. Before even meeting the chief, though, we got the option to don the sunglasses and glove of the Added Reality Interface and play a game of catch with a virtual rubber ball to kill some time. Throwing and catching what for everyone else must have looked like an invisible ball coaxed some hilarious reactions out of the passers-by, and it appeared there were multiple time-killing mini-games, though we have no idea if they're actually something that can be played anywhere.
It wasn't until we'd gotten into the dusty, dimly-lit, cobweb-ridden office Jayden would call home that things got really interesting, though. After clearing off the desk and pushing it against a wall, we set up the extremely cool VR investigation tools Norman uses. The VR world effectively combines a virtual map, file cabinet, database and, uh, a handful of awesome virtual environements that ranged from what looked like the surface of Mars to the middle of a forest (these were activated by grabbing a sphere and "smashing" it into the desk, changing everything around Jayden). After sifting through the clues, testimony and trying to link up some of the existing case information to a local map where waypoints would be plotted, we retired that side of the story and worked our way through the two remaining characters.