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Heavy Disappointment, Heavy Relief

Ethan Mars from Heavy RainI got up today expecting to play through the last hour or two of Heavy Rain. I had enjoyed the game very much until this point despite some rather large flaws; including unnatural character interaction, robotic non-player character behaviour, severe screen tearing and questionable voice acting.

I was willing to look past these technical problems and the paper-thin murder mystery that culled too many elements of movies like Saw and The Game because I was genuinely attached to the characters, especially Ethan, and wanted to see the conclusion of the myriad of choices I‘d made until that point.  Today, the game refused to load the chapter I left off on last night and crashed my PS3 to the point of the XMB not responding and me having to manually shut down the system. Read More...

I’ve tried everything I can think of to get the game to load my progress. It boots up fine, recognises my save file and lets me browse the chapter menu and view bonuses. When I go to load the chapter “On the Loose” from my save file, I see the familiar load screen of Ethan’s face, then I get a black screen and my system freezes up. If I try and load from previous chapters, the system freezes immediately without even taking me to a load screen.

I tried deleting the 226 MB 1.01 update that, according to many reports, creates more problems than it fixes and I even went so far as to reinstall the 4GB of data that the game requires to run, despite indicating a mere 4 MB on the game case. In both of those cases, and after reinstalling the patch, I am left unable to play the game from where I left off or even from an earlier point.

This is effectively a game-ruining experience for me. Though I am holding off on starting over or deleting my save file in hopes of Sony and Quantic Dream delivering a fix in a timely manner, I’ll never be able to see the game in the same light again. If I am forced to start over, it’s highly unlikely that I’d be able to make the exact same sequence of choices again and reach the exact point I was at.

I already felt like playing a game for the second time after knowing where all the “seams” were would detract from the experience quite a bit, but now my opinion of the game as a whole has been tarnished. I’ll be reviewing Heavy Rain in the coming weeks; hopefully based on the experience I get from completing my original game and not based on a “Director’s Cut” replay of it, which at this point seems inevitable.

Editor's Note: I was able to complete the game after I unplugged the Ethernet cable from my PS3 and started exactly three chapters back from where I had gotten to. The game warns you that your save will be overwritten and your choices would be voided, however everything seemed to play out in line with what I did earlier in the game. It didn't take much time to get through what I'd already done, but it did detract from the experience to have to. With my network cable unplugged, the rest of the game went relatively smoothly aside from a few scary slowdowns.

Heavy Rain was a very memorable experience to be sure, I just wish it had a few extra weeks of quality assurance time. The technical flaws mar what is otherwise one of the most well-presented stories ever in a video game. The plot wrapped up in a rather predictable way and there were a few holes in it, but after some frustration and experimentation I was able to reach a satisfying conclusion to a story I became thoroughly invested in, thanks in large part to very well-developed characters.