Heavy Rain's Characters May Not Be Perfectly Performed, But Draw You Further Into The Drama.

Heavy Rain and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are both arguably flawed titles if you pick them apart. But let them stand on their own merits and they're inspiring. I don't want to do other games a disservice in my appraisal, I have plenty of love for more formal titles (I'm enjoying the heck out of the uber-generic Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing), but I just want to highlight how much I think developers of any game need to learn from Heavy Rain in particular. Whatever the game, whatever the gameplay, it'd be nice to care about the characters.

It's something that's not coming through though. I'm also playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 right now (phenomenal multiplayer), and while the shooting feels good, I really couldn't care less about the game's characters. What's the point of having a game with a plot and characters if its really hard to care about them?

That's what Heavy Rain changes. Through all its blunders in voice acting and occasionally uncanny animation, the game reveals its hand and pulls you in. You care about the characters, you care about their history, you care about what they do. I'm not saying every video game needs to have your heart racing in fear of your character's plight, but video games can handle plot and emotion so much better, and Heavy Rain proves that.

As a medium, video games are all about interactivity. Interactivity allows you to reveal much more about your characters in my opinion. Which is where I bring in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. I'm playing this game on PS2 as kind of a last hurrah for the ten year-old system, and it's a sensational piece of interactive story-telling. As a survival horror game, the gameplay relies mainly on atmosphere, but it's in interactivity that it draws its atmosphere. The game's premise is around a character's visit to a psychologist. This psychologist prompts you to answer various questions, complete activities, and the game tracks these, adapting to your answers. For example, early on you're asking to colour in a picture of a perfect family home. Later in the game, you stumble upon a family home that, gulp, is exactly the same as the one you coloured. A simple twist, but the game gets much more complicated than that, tracking your actions and using them against you to create its scares. And just like Heavy Rain, it's completely believable.

Game developers have the advantage of interactivity on their hands to tell personal and engaging stories. And apparently people want that. Heavy Rain shot straight to number one in the UK charts and continues to mingle around the top ten over at Amazon.

Many people might just want multiplayer from their games. And no, not every game needs a super-deep story. But every now and then, particularly in a world post Heavy Rain/Shattered Memories, I'm going to crave a story that really draws me in, and uses interactivity to get its characters inside my head.

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