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January 27 2010
Heavy Rain - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
25/2/2010SonySonyQuantic Dream
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
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Note the fantastic use of lighting.
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Visually Heavy Rain is stunning.

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Plenty of options on offer...
Back in September 2005 a game was released on the PS2 called Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy as it was known in North America (which is somewhat strange when you think that Fahrenheit is an Imperial measurement still used in that country). Anyway, published by Atari, the game was from French developer Quantic Dream and offered one of the most unique experiences on Sony's previous console. Now, almost five years later Quantic Dream are about to release their next tile, and with Sony handling the publishing this PS3 exclusive looks to be one of the most original, exciting products on any platform during 2010.

Much of Heavy Rain's plot, and in particular the roles of the playable characters still remains under wraps but David Cage, CEO of Quantic Dream, has summed the game up as "a very dark film noir thriller with mature themes". Having said that we do know the following:

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Private investigator Scott Shelby in Heavy Rain.
In 2011 a city on the US easy coast is being terrorised by the 'Origami Killer', whose victims are all discovered drowned, four days after they go missing. Seemingly the only clues: an origami figure and an orchid, discovered on each of their bodies. The public is gripped by fear and paranoia. The authorities seem no closer to a credible suspect. And now another potential vicitim has disappeared - Shaun Mars.

As the clock ticks amidst suspicion and anxiety, four very different people are drawn into the investigation - each following their own leads in a desperate search for Shaun. Each of them knows what the cost will be if they don't reach him in time - and they will soon be forced to ask themselves just how far they are prepared to go...

Gameplay in Heavy Rain looks rather unique with any decisions you make often impacting the storyline and later events. As mentioned above the game follows four main characters in the game - father Ethan Mars, photographer Madison Paige, FBI profiler Norman Jayden and private investigator Scott Shelby. There are plenty of exploration elements and along the way you will be given choices, to do different things or react in different ways. There are some Quick Time Event styled moments, but they are brilliantly integrated into the gameplay.

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A clue from the Origami Killer perhaps?
There are a couple of other interesting things to note about this game. Firstly in order to not break up the emotion and rhythm of the game Trophies won't be awarded during gameplay, but only when you reach the end of the chapters. As you may have surmised this is a single player game, there won't be any multi-player components but David Cage has confirmed that there will be downloadable content.

This DLC will be known as "Heavy Rain Chronicles" and serves to tell the back story to several characters in the game including one which will allow you to play as the Origami killer while another will allow you to play as Norman Jayden and a third as Madison Paige. There will also be a demo of this game released on February 11 and we sincerely hope that anyone still on the fence about this game checks the demo out. Finally the Australian classification board have awarded the game an MA15+ rating with all violence and a sex scene remaining intact. Huzzah!

The first time we had a hint of potential of Quantic Dream's next game was at E3 2006 with a tech demo called "The Casting" which saw a single woman in a room and her house talking about various emotions before putting a gun to her head. It was dramatic, riveting, and technically astonishing (you can still see copies of the clip here). We must point out though that this clip isn't actually in the game and the final product looks set to surpass the visuals in that tech clip.

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Oh look, rain, in Heavy Rain!
Visually the near final Heavy Rain looks sensational. Running at 720p the visuals are more artistic then technically 'wow factor', but that's not saying this game isn't among the best looking on the system. It simply may not push the most polygons, or may not have the best texturing or lighting on occasions. Actually, perhaps it does... Still, one can not deny the stunning animations or cinematography on offer.

Heavy Rain is one of the most exciting prospects that we have seen on the PS3 to date. It's not going to be all-out action, in fact it will be extremely limited however it does promise on of the most cerebral experiences (and we think experience is a fair term) on the system to date. Sony haven't confirmed it but everything is pointing to a February 25 release in Australia - in line with other territories.