By Spencer . June 4, 2009 . 1:29pm
Heavy Rain is a mix of an adventure game and a rapid fire quick time events. At E3 I took on the role of Norman Jayden, a FBI profiler searching for the Origami Killer. The left analog moves Jayden’s head. Holding the R2 button makes Jayden walk in whatever direction his head is facing.
The scene Jayden was investigating was in a scrap yard. Before pressing forward I stopped to make Jayden “think”. When you hold the L2 button words, which represent thoughts, spin around him. Players can hit the four face buttons to see what Jayden is thinking. If you press square to make Jayden think about Triptocaine you discover that Jayden is suffering from withdraw.
Heavy Rain is an open ended game so there must have been other ways to complete the demo. I went straight to Mad Jack, the owner of the scrap yard, and directly asked him about the case. Mad Jack didn’t offer any information so I had to snoop around with ARI, a system that can automatically analyze clues like blood type and tire tracks. When ARI is equipped you press L1 to scan the area. Any clues turn up green and you do a Jet Grid Radio style analog movement with the right stick to look at them. Clues on the floor require you to move the right stick down, for example.
After finding a skull in a pool of water Mad Jack puts a gun to Jayden’s head. Heavy Rain’s fighting system is quite different than other games. You can’t mash buttons to punch Mad Jack or take cover behind a table and shoot him. All actions in Heavy Rain require a player to react to scripted, but branching fight sequences. When Mad Jack gets ready to punch a bubble with a left arrow pops up. You need to move the right analog stick left to dodge the blow. When it comes time to punch back a bubble pops up with X and if you get the cue Jayden strikes back.
After “winning” the fight Jayden’s drug problem kicks in. The screen blurs and it’s hard for Jayden to focus. To keep Jayden conscious players need to hold a series of buttons as they appear on screen. You start with one button, then a shoulder button, and the sequence kept going while I was holding five buttons at once. I thought this was neat and an interesting way to represent what Jayden was going through.
Jayden woke up handcuffed to a car and desperate to escape before he and the car were crushed. Another series of QTEs popped up, but this time I had a choice. I started shaking the controller, which made Jayden shake his hands. This didn’t work well. The trick to beating this is looking around with the left analog stick, which still controlled Jayden’s head. This revealed an action to kick open the glove compartment which had a gun inside.
The demo ended with a long fight against Mad Dog. It took about twenty, maybe thirty QTEs, of Jayden struggling to throw things he found on the ground and right hooks to the face before Mad Dog was run over by a bulldozer. I was told if I missed too many of the QTEs Jayden would have died — permanently, but Heavy Rain would continue with the stories from the other characters.