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Sony unveils Quantic's Heavy Rain

A "dark thriller", due next year.

At its press conference at the Leipzig Games Convention, Sony lifted the lid on Heavy Rain, a "dark thriller" for PS3 due in 2009.

The game appears to be an extremely cinematic adventure with horror overtones, and a mature, emotionally involving story exploring adult themes not seen in videogames before is promsied.

Live gameplay footage was shown, but aside from very quick button-prompt flashes on-screen, it was virtually indistinguishable from a cut-scene, with fast cutting between static cameras.

David Cage, the writer and director of the game and head of French developer Quantic Dream, said it would be a new kind of emotional, story-led experience not seen in games before.

"For years we wanted to create a different type of experience not based on repetitive actions... but really based on narrative and emotion," Cage said. He said the core of the game would be "emotional involvement, empathy, contextual actions, moral choices and decision making".

He said the player would be " the actor, but also the writer and director at the same time," making decisions that have lasting consequences for the story that's told in Heavy Rain.

The footage showed what seemed to be a rain-soaked American suburban street, with children playing in a front yard. A young woman with short hair made a note into a voice recorder before breaking into a darkened house.

The house contained strangely-dresssed mannequins and the dark outlines of huge ravens hanging from the ceiling. The woman was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant and a very fast-paced combat scene began.

As the woman blocked her attacker with furniture, her actions seemed to be guided by button prompts on the screen; rather than combinations, these appeared to be single quick presses of the four shape buttons only.

Having effected her escape, the camera went in for a close-up, showing the a remarkable level of facial detail, with stunningly lifelike eyes in particular.

Quantic Dream is the French studio behind cult adventures The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit. Heavy Rain was first seen at E3 two years ago in the form of a tech demo called The Casting, showing its advanced facial animation technology.

After David Cage departed the stage, Sony Europe boss David Reeves described Heavy Rain as "the great game for PlayStation 3 next year".