Laced with nuance, Heavy Rain has more in common with novels in a bookstore or films in a theater than anything next to it in the gaming aisle.
Yes, there are gunfights and car chases in Heavy Rain, but the game play of such sequences isn't behaviorally similar to the likes of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. The unique controls and focus on storytelling, especially later in the game, can inspire more anxiety than a Modern Warfare 2 death match.
Throughout the game, players control one of four main characters: architect Ethan Mars, FBI profiler Norman Jayden, private investigator Scott Shelby and insomniac journalist Madison Paige. All are at a crossroads in their lives. They have been pulled into the case of The Origami Killer, a psychopath who kidnaps young boys and drowns them in rainwater.
Real actors provide virtual performances on a par with "Avatar." Pascal Langdale as Mars achieves the difficult task of resonating while searching for his missing son as Mars tackles the killer's nasty "Saw"-like trials.
Heavy Rain, with heady issues such as addiction, suicide and the loss of a child, isn't for everyone, especially if you're only interested in being a hero like Master Chief or Mario. However, for anyone willing to lose themselves in the drama, it can be an emotionally moving experience in a medium where there are unfortunately too few.
RATING M for mature
PLOT A captivating, interactive mystery
DETAILS PlayStation 3, $60
BOTTOM LINE Dripping with intensity