Monday, July 22, 2013

Heavy Rain

So, apparently, there’s this game out there that is more like playing a movie than a game. What better way is there to kick-off The Progressive Cinema Scorecard’s game week than with a game some people have said is like Seven, only you get to accidentally kill all the innocents and not Brad Pitt. The only thing you could’ve said that would have made us want to play this game more would be if you said it came covered in Nutella. So join us as we dive into Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain.
  • Waking up in a sunny home full of Ikea furniture. = +3pts
  • Struggling with basic human functions like: going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, and walking from room to room. = -5pts
  • Ignoring your wife’s requests to help set up for your son’s birthday party because you keep repeatedly walking into the office, sitting in a chair, turning the radio on and off, and generally being unable to make out the difference between a “cabinet” and a “bookshelf.” = -4pts (Thanks for nothing, Ikea!)
  • Playing with your two sons and only dropping them twice. = +2pts
  • Taking almost an hour to figure out how to set out plates for your son’s B-Day party. = -8pts (Get off our back already!)
  • The harrowing mall scene in which you lose track of your son and interact with what you’re (still) convinced is a homicidal clown. = +13pts (Man, as a father, we suck. Hopefully we’ll be able to turn this thing around…)
  • Inability to find money in our pockets to pay said clown, despite very clear screen prompts on how to do so. = -3pts
  • Failure to save your son from being hit by a car before you can tell him sorry for fucking up his birthday party. = -6pts
  • Stylish opening credits: Cinematic Seven-ish intro OR Advertisement for Sally Struthers’ charity for the disenfranchised? No points. Just a general survey.
  • Transition to unkempt facial hair and dingy apartment. = +7pts (We’re guessing our inability to properly parent our child—thus resulting in his death—was the last straw for our marriage. Thanks to liberal lawyers we still have visitation.)
  • Being provided a helpful schedule for what your remaining son should do for the evening when he returns home from school. (Clearly written by your depressed ex-wife. Where’s the trust?) = +4pts
  • Completely failing at accomplishing a single milestone on that list, thus cementing status as “Worst. Parent. Ever.” 
    • “What’s that, son? You want to watch TV rather than do your homework? Sure! I did pretty much kill your brother and all.” = -2pts
    • “I’ll be happy to help you with your homework. Just as soon as I walk into the storage room and shoot some basketball. Wait, you’re done?! “ = -2pts
    • “Who says eating at 10PM on a school night is bad for kids? As soon as I find you some food, I’ll make it for you. Maybe it’s in the storage room….” = -2pts
    • 10-minutes later: “Look I couldn’t find you any food in the storage room OR make a single basket, so you just keep sitting at that table like a hungry animal till I figure this out.” = -2pts
    • Being given the option of feeding your son a frozen pizza or healthy looking food options. = +4pts (Talk about verisimilitude!)
    • Choosing pizza because you feel guilty and want your son to like you. = -4pts
    • It’s hard to describe what happens over the next hour and a half, so we’ll just provide you with the highlights. (03:23: “You like pizza, right?” 05:03: “It’s amazing the malleability and shape of this frozen pizza looks a lot like the plates your mother busted my balls to put out for your dead brother’s birthday party. Love me, or I might break it over your head. Hahaha! Just kidding! (The controls won’t let me.) Let me just heat this up for you.” 12:13: “Okay, clearly walking around you constantly isn’t going to cook this thing. You know what, maybe there’s an oven or microwave in the storage room? I’ll be right back…” 23:09: “I don’t know why I can’t use the oven in the kitchen. Tell you what, let me check the storage room one more time…” 38:18: “Look just take the pizza from my hand yourself. I’m sure it’s thawed enough to eat…” 45:34: “SERIOUSLY, TAKE THE FUCKING PIZZA! EAT IT! FOR GOD’S SAKE JUST TAKE IT!” 54:22: Fell into the fetal position and wept openly. 1:03:00: “Sorry about that, son. Look, we’re on the same team here. Just tell me where in the storage room the microwave is and we can put this all behind us.”  1:34:05: “Of course I knew the microwave was sitting behind you and that all I had to do was change the camera angle. What kind of dad do you think I am? DON’T ANSWER THAT!”  = -23pts
  • The rewarding sensation of tucking your son into bed after a fraught night of bad parenting. = +10pts
  • Having him tell you he lost his favorite bear and he wants you to find it for him. = -5pts (“I’m not going to lie, son. This will likely end poorly. But I’ll give it my best shot. I’ll start in the storage room…”)
  • Failing to find said bear. = -7pts
  • Rekindling that ol’ father son play magic at the park. = +8pts
  • Immediately losing your (second) son. This time to a child serial killer. = -15pts. (“Son of a-!”)
  • For unintentionally eliciting the feeling of resignation from the sense that we’re all going to die and not meaning it in an existential way. = +5pts
  • Introducing you to a new character (PI) whose life you will likely ruin due to your inability to master the controls. = +12pts (For spreading the love.)
  • Intense fight with a prostitute’s John, that (much like a real fight) causes you to think for a moment that you might not get out of this alive at all. = +8pts
  • Introducing a new character whose gadgets allow you to feel like Dr. Manhattan solving crimes from Mars. = +3pts
  • Once again, barely surviving a physical confrontation with a lowly hoodlum. We sure hope the Origami killer is a pussy. = +2pts
  • Gratuitous boobage. = 0pts (If we still weren’t traumatized after turning our son over to a serial killer, we would likely have awarded this a positive score.)
  • For introducing a new female character and then immediately placing us in a situation in which we feel like our inability to grasp the controls will result in her getting sexually assaulted. = -15pts
  • It was only a dream! = +5pts (However, us wetting our pants was very real.)
  • This crawl through a tunnel of broken glass is a boring and painful to play as it must be to do in real life. = -6pts
  • Cutting your finger off to save your son. Also called: The easiest thing we’ve done all day. = +3pts
  • Contrived multiple personality plot point. Courtesy of left-field. = -13pts
  • Hanging around and talking to the crazy bartender from the Shining. = +2pts (He’s a good guy once you get to know him.)
  • Old man being (miraculously) murdered in a room that you spent several minutes going through with a fine tooth comb before talking to him. What is this, Clue?  = -6pts
  • Not shooting the skeezy drug dealer with kids and somehow feeling bad about it. = -2pts
  • Earning a PS3 trophy entitled “Queen of Ropes” after barely surviving…um, rape surgery. = -10pts 
  • Not being able to tell the difference between raw eggs and cooked eggs yet still deciding to serve them to another person. = +7pts (Never has a game so simulated our real lives.)
  • So let us get this straight: We can kill the FBI guy, Electrocute the dad, get molested/murdered by a creepy landlord, but we CAN’T throw a kid off a building in a flashback that is clearly the origin of the mysterious serial killer? Why even bother playing it. You could have just told us that story in 3 sentences. = -3pts
  • “Still haven’t gotten over my encounter with Dr. Baker.” Oh, you mean the creepy landlord who was conducting human experiments in the basement and who also tried to rape you? Hmm, you really sold us on the depth of your trauma by reciting that line with the same passion as someone wondering where they put their keys. = -4pts.
  • Image of woman in club dancing half on the dance floor and half inside what appears to be a solid cube. = +3pts (For avant guard use of collision detection.)
  • It’s hard to describe what happens next, but here’s what we were able to work out with our therapist: “So I’m controlling a woman at a club. Awesome! Let’s dance! Wow, this club is as hard to walk around in as a real club! There’s the guy I need to speak to. But he’ll only talk to me if I get his attention? Looks I’m going to having slut it up a bit. Let me get up on this stage…and proceed to repeatedly break my ankles, once again demonstrating my inability to master the controls.” 10 minutes later. “A-ha! I did it! Look at me! I can dance! What? That wasn’t good enough for you?! I guess I’ll have to really slut it up. Time to go to the bathroom and change. Let’s see: lipstick, eye shadow, unbutton a button, and then tear my skirt so it’s really short—what, no tramp stamp option? That’s the ticket! Now you’ll love me, Dad—I mean, club guy! Let’s really dance! I feel so free and uninhibited! Dammit, my ankles are fucked.” 20 minutes later. “I’m dancing! I’m so sexy! Who wants to sleep with me now! I do! God, do I want to sleep with myself! Now he’s paying attention! I’m so sexy! As soon as we get to his office, I’ll do the ‘ol grab him by the balls bit—wait, what? You want me to dance some more? Ugh, I’m not sure you were watching that closely, but I totally can’t do that in heels. Wow, pulling a gun on me and ordering me to strip. Yikes! How come your “Mexican” name (Paco) and “accent” are faker than my digital boobs? What is it with guys in this town trying to sexually assault women all the time? I have to make a choice between taking off my top or skirt? Wow, I am I feeling totally objectified. While I no longer feel sexy, I really want to see my videogame boobs again. What are these feelings I’m feeling? Being a woman is terrifying! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!”  = 0pts (Any sequence that makes you want to fuck yourself, while at the same time feel sympathy for an entire gender and reviling the salacious game developers for inducing a psychiatric break in reality, is a wash.)
  • So my son is at risk of drowning, but you’re giving me the option to of sleep with myself? Sorry, son. You’ll understand when you get older. You know, assuming you don’t die while I bone this chick (Who is actually us! MIND. BLOWN.). = +18pts
  • The French/Japanese developers who made this game clearly feel that sex is much more difficult thing to do than it actually is. = -6pts (We said nothing about doing it well.) 
  • Not putting on pants to cover your dirty panties when having a serious heart to heart. = -2pts
  •  Accidentally taking the drug you’ve been fighting all game to not take because the game developers trick you into doing it by purposefully making the options illegible. = -5pts
  • Choosing to not save a minor character because you think you’re barely going to get out a sequence alive. = -2pts (Sorry, Lauren! If it makes you feel any better we thought we were saving you at first.)
  • Charging in like a bad ass Dirty Harry and then promptly running out of said situation because you can’t seem to anticipate which magical button is going to pull the trigger at a given time. = -3pts (Here’s a tip developers: Most people pull a trigger with their index finger. Generally the same index finger.) 
  • Helping a suspected child murder escape custody and nobody saying “boo” about it. = +4pts
  • For having one of the more ludicrous big bad reveals in pretty much any medium. (That’s a LOT of movies/books you’re competing against.) = -10pts (This would be a higher negative if the reveal didn’t at least address one of the more ludicrous plot holes previously mentioned in this scorecard.)
  • Stealing a trick from the worst Indiana Jones. = -2pts
  • And there goes another main character! Right off the conveniently placed conveyor belt.  Captain Clumsythumbs claims another victim. = +10pts (We’re giving this a positive score because, full disclosure, said character died at least five times during the junkyard scene, but we were too stubborn to let him go. Consider this karma.) 
  • The most pathetic motorcycle FAIL in the history of gaming. You’re welcome world of gaming. = +5pts (These points are for us, really.)
  • And down goes another main character! If life/this game has taught us anything it’s LEARN HOW TO MICROWAVE A GODDAMNED PIZZA! = -5pts
  • For having as many endings a LOTR, only each one of them being more and more WTF (in a bad way) than the last. = -3pts
  • For assembling a concluding narrative that, when taking into account everything that happened and everyone who lived and died, makes no fucking sense whatsoever. = -4pts
  • For having the nerve to try to set up a sequel based on that ending. = -8pts
  • For one-third of the game being contrived bullshit. = -33pts
Total Score = -92pts

If there was one good thing about this game it was the fact that we sucked at the beginning of it, and pretty much sucked at the end of it. To be fair, Heavy Rain wasn’t uninteresting to play and the developers were clearly attempting to pull off something different. But the aggravating controls seemed to be purposefully opaque in order to ensure that the game lived up to its Seven-esque aspirations. Also, the less said about the “big reveal” the better. Still, we found it strangely compelling to seduce ourselves, while also berating ourselves and our inability to perform basic human tasks like taking off pants and using a microwave. So in that aspect, Heavy Rain succeeds in creating true verisimilitude. Suck it, Skyrim!

Score Technician: Sean McConnell

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