Heavy Rain • Page 2

The weather forecast.

ARI is graphically exciting; hitting a button triggers a radar-like neon splash around Jayden that traces clouds of orchid pheromones in the air, blood trails and tyre-tracks on the floor, and collects luminescent fingerprints for later cross-referencing. However, it's a fairly self-conscious device for a game that roots itself so squarely in the real world. We ask Cage if we can expect Heavy Rain's other characters to have similar, or equivalent systems.

"No, not systems, but they have different personalities, different backgrounds, and they can do different things. They have access to different parts of the story also, and they can deal in different ways with different situations. Jayden is not a template. Each one is unique." Of these others, we only know their names: Ethan Mars, Scott Shelby, and Madison Paige, the young lady from the Taxidermist demo.

Jayden's scene, from somewhere in the middle of the game, sees him visiting the junkyard of a burly, threatening car scrap dealer called Mad Jack. A car used by the killer has been tracked here. It's a gloomy location under an atmospheric, glowering sky; it looks as if it's been shot in shallow focus through an ochre lens filter, very moody, very David Fincher. Although you can move Jayden's head around with the left stick - dictating where he looks and walks - and switch between tight and long tracking camera angles at will with L1, Heavy Rain still has a studied, cinematic look, carefully composed at all times.

There's been a major change to the interface for contextual actions since Leipzig. Clear white cues for stick movements and button presses are embedded in the scene in 3D; if the game wants you to open Jayden's car door with a flick of the stick to the right, the symbol will appear next to the door on the screen, no matter what the angle. In fights, the cue for dodging a punch will appear next to the aggressor's fist as it moves - for picking up and swinging a piece of piping, by the pipe on the floor. Sixaxis shake is used in appropriately desperate moments, but otherwise motion control seems to have been stripped back from the Taxidermist demo.

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ARI in use; eat that, CSI. Exciting backlit test-tube montages are a thing of the past.

It's incredibly effective. Yes, Heavy Rain still offers entirely scripted, choreographed, simon-says action, but the presentation - from the in-scene cues to the fluid, fast and natural camera cuts - is in a new league, and the pacing is excellent. Quantic has coaxed quite a dramatic range from the pad, too, using shake, button hammering, and lots of flicks and quarter-circles on the stick to find an appropriate input for each action. There will be three difficulty levels, which will determine how precise your timing needs to be, and the variety of moves you'll need to pull off.

There are some more neat integrations of interface and display. Pressing L2 brings up Jayden's thoughts as words revolving around him - "cold", "withdrawal", "Shaun". Each is matched with a button that will trigger a voiceover, mixing emotional colour with plot hints. If the character is calm, they revolve slowly and are legible, but in stressful situations the words will move fast and letters will blur to emulate confusion and make it harder to "think".

The same system is used for conversational options. "If you are really calm, you'll be fully in control of what you want to say, whereas if you're really stressed and nervous, you will have less control over what you say," says Cage.

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Do criminals really call themselves things like Mad Jack? Probably, sadly.

All of this, including ARI, features in the junkyard scene. After exchanging a few words with Jack, Jayden uses ARI to examine the workshop, where blood trails lead to a skull in an acid bath. Jack responds with a gun to the back of Jayden's head - if you don't find the body within a certain time period, the game will force this event. A scuffle ensues, and then a conversation where Jayden must threaten and cajole information out of Jack. He suffers drug withdrawal - you'll have to use the "impress" system here, holding down an awkward layout of buttons to emulate discomfort as Jayden rummages desperately through his pockets for the Triptocaine - and Jack regains the upper hand.

Jayden wakes up in a car headed for a grisly end in the compactor, where tense split-screen action ensues as you shake and jolt yourself free to the strangely sinister jangling of bluegrass on the radio. Finally, a climactic scrap with the huge Jack - Jayden always and convincingly at a physical disadvantage, which is rare in any kind of videogame combat - ends with the scrap dealer dying under the tracks of his own JCB. Or does it?

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Oli Welsh

Oli Welsh

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Oli is the editor of Eurogamer.net and likes to take things one word at a time. His friends call him The European, but that's just a coincidence. He's still playing Diablo 3.

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