The Taxidermist is the first of the Heavy Rain Chronicles, and comes bundled with the special edition version of Heavy Rain. We've avoided plot spoilers for the main game below, but if you're hyper sensitive to such things we suggest finishing it before proceeding.
Mass Effect 2's Miranda Lawson (played by and lasciviously modelled upon Chuck actress Yvonne Strahovski) has it a lot worse, but there's still something slightly disappointing about the way Heavy Rain's camera lingers on Madison Paige's bottom.
Madison's an attractive woman, but we're left in no doubt about how we should view her. The first time we meet her, she's in her nightclothes. When she has to interrogate a club owner, she does it by stripping. When she has to evade a security man in the same scene, she does it by yelping orgasmically. It's all a bit cynical.
At least, that's one way to look at it. Another way is that the camera pans across her backside occasionally because she has a backside and it's a third-person game. Ethan Mars starts the game half-naked and then goes all the way within about five minutes. Same difference? As for the nightclothes... it is night.
The club scene made people uneasy. Heavy Rain writer and director David Cage defended it by pointing out that he wanted to make people "uncomfortable". Regarding the yelping, the visual pay-off was probably Heavy Rain's best joke.
I'm not sure how I feel about the portrayal of Madison Paige, but then I have a moral compass straight out of the Bermuda Triangle. I am pretty sure about one thing though: Heavy Rain is being held to a higher standard, by its fans, by its critics, and by its authors. The characters are special cases because of the game.
So, what happens when you take the characters out of the game? Let's ask the Heavy Rain Chronicles. The Chronicles promise to revisit the likes of Madison, Ethan, Scott Shelby and Norman Jayden prior to the events of the game, and the first of these - The Taxidermist - focuses on Madison.
Available as part of a special edition sold through HMV in the UK, and due to be released on PlayStation Network soon, The Taxidermist was originally produced for the gamescom 2008 unveiling of Heavy Rain, and sees Madison visiting the house of a taxidermist who is also an Origami Killer suspect.
The taxidermist lives in the same sort of rainy puddle of chainlink-fenced misery and doughty stars and stripes that Ethan Mars moves into after the start of the main adventure. It's generally a bit wretched, but then Madison can only sleep in motels, so she's probably not that bothered by his circumstances.
They certainly don't dissuade her from popping round the back once she's established no one's home and doing a bit of breaking and entering. Once inside (and with a certain degree of dramatic irony), she moans to herself that she's wasting her time chasing the Origami Killer here, although there are plenty of options for snooping about.
As was the case with the main game, The Taxidermist episode offers you a large range of possible actions. While much is optional, it is optional in the sense that it's there in case it's relevant to the way you want to act in the scene, rather than optional in the sense that you might get some more coins to spend on unlocking concept art or whatever.
So there's no correct way to rummage through the taxidermist's belongings, or to disguise your presence. There is a script though, of course, and it kicks into gear when Madison stumbles upon a few unusual house guests, and then gets trapped in the house with their landlord, the taxidermist, who arrives home unexpectedly.
Perhaps because this scene was designed to stand alone and showcase the game's approach, there's a strong and diverse range of possibilities. You can confront the man and get into a frantic chase to escape the house before he murders you; you can hide in various places and try to outmanoeuvre him without his realising; or you can bring the scene to several other outcomes.
Once it's over and the credits have rolled, the final screen reveals that there are five possible conclusions, giving them names that hint at how to reach them, and encourages you to begin again from one of the three save points it registered along the way. Playing through a few times to see three of the five reveals that they are impressively distinct from one another.
Overall, though, The Taxidermist is more interesting for its historical significance - I didn't get to play the gamescom build in 2008, and I doubt you did either - than its content, although the latter is nevertheless extremely polished.
Is it worth buying the Special Edition version because of it? The question is probably whether you can buy the Special Edition, since it seems to have sold out judging by its absence from HMV's website.
Google caching suggests it cost five quid more than the regular version, a price difference that presumably also reflects the special rain-effect packaging, and the fact the redeemable code that downloads it also provides a new dynamic theme and a copy of the original soundtrack.
Something that has been apparent for a while now with digital downloads and "value added" content is that the less you charge for something, the greater the impact minor price differences have on the review score. And sadly, since we don't know how The Taxidermist will be packaged on PSN, and at what price, we're in the same position we were with Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network add-on. We can't score it until the facts are in.
As for what it tells us about Madison, the Taxidermist scene has relatives in the main adventure. It's very similar in content and style to Madison's visit to a retired doctor, and to some extent Norman Jayden's encounter with Mad Jack. It's exciting, and makes it interesting to explore the possibilities, but it doesn't really teach you anything: we already knew Madison was bold to the point of recklessness.
The greatest similarity to those scenes, however, is that the taxidermist himself is a weak villain, and his lines and particularly their delivery puncture the atmosphere like a white-hot needle through flesh, leaving too much damage in their wake. That, for once, is not evidence of Heavy Rain being held to a higher standard: it's just a rather disappointing truth.
As for the episode itself, it's rather like the game's camera: it lingers on things that catch your attention, but you can't really read too much into it.
Heavy Rain Chronicles: The Taxidermist is out now as part of the Heavy Rain Special Edition and will be sold on PSN shortly. Check out our Heavy Rain review.