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.
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