Flawed, but the greatness shines through.
Developer Quantic Dream has a history of unique, but ultimately flawed, games. Omikron: The Nomad Soul was just too weird for most people, though it featured an excellent sci-fi storyline. 2005's Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit) innovated greatly in the realm of cinematic experiences in games, but the plot took a turn for the batshit crazy at the end, and turned off many people. With Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream hoped to create their ideal game, an interactive movie that was promoted as the first video game that will make you cry. The good news: they have almost achieved that goal. The bad news: the little annoyances of the game make it fall just short of perfect.
I won't say much about the story of Heavy Rain, as it's kind of the point of playing the game. You play as 4 unrelated characters, whose paths inevitably intersect, trying to stop a serial child killer.That's really all I can say without ruining the experience for new players. My only suggestion: LET THE GAME AUTO-SAVE. Creator David Cage has gone on record as saying that the game should only be played once, and whatever happens in your story should be what happens.While I may not agree with the former, I must concur on the latter. Moving your character is as simple as holding a button to move forward and turning with the analog stick. Actions such as opening doors or picking up a gun are all done with natural motions of the analog stick that mostly match the general motion they represent. Action sequences become some of the most intense quicktime events I've ever seen. The motions and button presses you are required to do really replicate the feeling of urgency your character might be feeling, enhanced by the fact that any character can die at any time, with the story continuing without them. My only problem with the gameplay: sometimes the icons on screen giving you different choices are very vague, leaving you unable to really do what you intend.
Several of the choices you are required to make in Heavy Rain really hit me hard. Never is a character given a generic good or evil choice, only shades of grey that could very well turn out bad. The story has the potential to be an amazingly involved pieace of storytelling, which makes it all the worse that the characters are almost ruined by atrocious voice-acting. I understand that the game was developed in France, and the character's voice-actors are the same people who were motion-captured for them, but the French actors trying their best to sound American just doesn't work, and kills some really emotional scenes. Overall, I would recommend Heavy Rain, as it will be an important game in the history of the medium, even if it's not remembered as a great game.