Review: Heavy Rain (PS3)

“An Amazing, Heart-Wrenching, Fantastic Experience”

10/10

So I know what you’re saying “A 10/10? Is this guy serious? No game deserves a 10/10” Ok, I get you. I understand where you’re coming from. However, I can honestly and truly say that no game has sucked me in and held on as tightly as Heavy Rain has. No game in recent memory has had my heart racing, my eyes tearing, or my mind twisting like Heavy Rain has. That’s a fact. Let me explain why.

Let’s get the first thing out of the way.

Gameplay:

Control-wise the game plays quite interestingly. You move by holding R2 and using the left stick. While at first it feels clunky, and indeed you’ll have some moments where you may walk the wrong way, the walking scheme frees up the right stick to be used for QTE’s and what I’m going to call Normal Game Actions (NGA). Let me clarify a bit. If you are walking past a drawer, you might have to hit the right stick down in order to open it. Or if you’re reaching for a wallet, you might have to move the stick to the right and then go from right to bottom to left, which simulates someone retrieving something from a pocket. This is why the movement is just intuitive for this game. Overall, the game will make you feel (to some degree) that you are really making your character perform the actions. The creators wanted to make sure you felt like you were doing what your character was doing. Squeezing through a tight space? Well, you might have to hold a series of buttons that feel annoying, in order to simulate the feeling your character might be going through. It’s an interesting concept, and the creators have done as much as they can considering the limitations of the PS3 remote.

Combat is essentially QTEs. For those of you who do not know, a QTE is a Quick Time Event. Those of you who are fans of Shenmue will feel themselves right at home with this type of game-play. You’ll see a button prompt on the screen and you’ll have to push it fast. Miss an event and your character will suffer. Either they will receive some kind of cosmetic damage, or perhaps even do something as mundane as missing a dance step. The interesting thing about Heavy Rain, as the reviews have pointed out, will complete the events without your help. Missing all of the prompts will generally not do much besides severely mess up whatever the character was doing. The game will still progress though. While this may sound a bit strange at first, your love for the story will connect you with the characters. You’ll want to perform the QTEs as fluidly and perfectly as possible in order to keep your character in the best shape. You’ll also never know precisely what affect you missing certain QTEs will have on the character or the story.

While I realize many of you may be shaking your heads saying “well, if I’m only pressing buttons, is this really a game or some kind of movie?” A fair question. The designers call it “Interactive Drama.” In my opinion, though, Heavy Rain IS actually a game. Why? Because you influence the story. I’ll talk about the choice system in the next section.

Bottom line is, the control scheme is absolutely perfect for what the developers were trying to do. I can’t see how it could be any better and still be as effective. Therefore, I find absolutely no fault with the controls. I also find no fault with the method of play, because QTEs and NGAs are done so incredibly well, you genuinely feel like you’re participating.

Gameplay= 10/10

Story:

This is where the game shines. I stand by my sentence in the beginning. No game in recent history has as good a story as this game does. Let me say that in another way. No games story will immerse you in such a way that you will genuinely want to follow it all the way to its conclusion. Depending on your choices, you will bond with the characters in a way that is truly remarkable. The chase for the killer is thrilling and you will experience many cinema-like moments that will get your heart racing. If you like mystery movies, you will enjoy Heavy Rain…it’s that simple. It’s hard to talk about the game too much, as each piece should be experienced by the player. I can say, though, that there were some parts of the game where I cringed, some parts of the game where I was literally tearing up, and some parts of the game I was genuinely afraid. You will connect with this game.

Speaking of choices, the game has a lot. Now, of course, not every choice you make is going to influence the end of the game. In fact, very few choices change the game dramatically. However, you will make a LOT of choices in Heavy Rain. The best part is, you won’t exactly realize their implications until later in the story. Many of these choices will genuinely concern you, the gamer. In some instances you will have to make choices that influence the morality of a character, or perhaps even the safety of characters. That’s what’s interesting about the characters. They will actually shape up according to your own morality. Granted, there will be some instances where characters may do things to upset you, but you will be able to make some important choices that will completely change the feel of characters. As the Gamespot reviewer noted, it may even be hard to play through the game a second time because the characters stories have been told already. I disagree with the last part, as it is going to be very intriguing playing the game a second time and making choices that are the opposite of my morality.

I won’t go into any detail about the ending here, as this is a spoiler free review. Personally, I feel like the game follows through from start to finish. This is why, though, I classify this as a game. You actually shape the story. While you cant change the key players, you make many choices that affect the characters and the way they behave. To me, thats significant.

Story= 10/10

Graphics:

The graphics in this game are great. The facial animations and character movements always seem very fluid. There are some parts of the game where your character will have to walk through crowds and their reaction to those people in the crowd is extremely realistic and well done. It’s obvious the designers put a lot of time into the animations and models. The backgrounds generally look spectacular. There’s no real complaint here.

Graphics= 10/10

Audio:

Some people have complained about the voice acting. I can understand why people may feel this way, but generally I was pleased with it. I never really encountered any moments where I didn’t believe the character. (and some people may think I’m stupid for this) Ambient sounds were fantastic and the music is just FANTASTIC. The music fits the mood completely, and I’m tempted to buy a soundtrack when it comes out. Just great stuff.

Audio=10/10

Overall Score= 10/10

So, you can see from my short review that I think Heavy Rain is a perfect experience. I believe that, despite its short length (8-10 hours or so they say) the game is worth every penny. You get a fantastic story with great and memorable characters that genuinely bond to your heart. Perhaps I’m biased because I haven’t seen anything of this quality produced by game companies in a long time, but I honestly feel like Heavy Rain is a PS3 masterpiece.

If you’re looking for an enthralling experience from start to finish, buy Heavy Rain. No questions
.

One more point I feel I should make here, I very rarely buy games. I bought this one and don’t regret it one bit.

Reviewer’s Score: 10/10

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Review: Kuroshitsuji (Anime)

One of the noble families of England – Phantomhive, has a butler, Sebastian Michaelis. He has unquestionably perfect knowledge, manners, talent with materials. martial arts and much more. But for some reason, he serves a 12 year old master.

Story & Characters

Story:
A butler with perfect knowledge, manners, talent and extraordinary fighting skills, meet Sebastian Michaels! Sounds perfect, but why is he serving a 12 years old boy?!

The plot seems simple, but it is actually interesting. As the story goes on, more interesting revelations are made that makes you want to watch more until your eyes give up.

Although the story mainly focuses about Ciel and Sebastian, the fascinating but sad story of the minor characters is also shown that builds up more interest and understanding of the anime.

Characters:
Every character in this anime is really likeable. The almost perfect yet patient butler Sebastian Michaels and his arrogant, stubborn but kind hearted master Ciel Phanomhive really stand out since they are the main character. When the two of them are together, you can’t help but adore their great partnership. Although when they aren’t together, each of them still have their own unique character that makes them really amusing. The minor characters are also notable. The anime shows how important their roles are and gives each of them their own “moment” to stand out.

One of the major characters, Ciel Phantomhive, is really mysterious but cute. Although he usually shows his arrogant, mature, tough and calm side, you could still see that he is also a stubborn but gentle boy. His serious attitude also adds humor into the anime that makes him more likeable. His voice and appearance is really cool but not a new thing, since he resembles some anime character like Ryoma Echizen from “the Prince of Tennis”. However, he is still appealing because of his cool looks and tough but childish behaviour that are combined together to have a unique character.

On the other hand, his demon butler Sebastian Michaels is his opposite in some ways. They both look cool and mature, but Sebastian is different because he is more patient, humble and gentleman yet charismatic. Even though he is a demon, you still can’t think of him as an evil person, instead a strong and smart individual who is only doing his job. His looks may be plain, but is still rare. On the contrary, this aspect of him gives you a scary and mysterious feeling that actually makes him a good character.

Now let’s go to the minor characters! Because the story is really serious, the minor characters are used to create humour and enjoyment. They also have distinctive traits that make them adorable. A great example would be the members of the Phantomhive household: Bardroy, Finnian, Maylene, Tanaka and Pluto. They seem useless but when you think about it, a rich person would not hire an ineffective servant (just watch to see what I mean). Besides, without them, Kuroshitsuji would be really boring.

Lau and the girl he is always with are other characters that are mysterious but amusing. Madame Red, Prince Soma, Agni, Elizabeth, viscount of Druitt, Queen Victoria, Fred Abberline, Angela, Ash and the death gods: Grell, William and Undertaker are the other minor characters that add humour, drama and suspense into the anime.

Overall, the characters are all easy to like and hard to hate. They all made Kuroshitsuji a nice and enticing anime.

Rating: 10

Art

One of the things that would draw your attention in this anime is its classic, detailed and dark but loving art.

It is really interesting how the artist made the cute yet sophisticated clothes of each character. Because it is set in England during the Victorian era, more details are needed compared to modern clothes. However, this anime did a great job in creating a classic but unique art with a combination of dark and bright colors that suites the time period, storyline, and the audience that it is targeting.

When it comes to the character, the art is also impressive. They all look very different from each other that made them easier to remember. The colors and style that is used for every individual harmonizes with their personality.

It is also the same with the background. The colors, style and details goes with every scene.

Rating: 10

Sound

The voices don’t only match the characters; the voice actors also did a great job in showing the emotions needed in their voices to make it sound realistic.

But the problem in the Japanese dubbing is their accent. Since different cultures, like Indian and Chinese are shown, their accent should also suite the culture of the anime to make it more realistic. It is indeed hard to do especially because the Japanese accent sounds really close to other Asian accents, but it would be really great if they can do that.

If proper voices are chosen, an English dub for this anime would be great. This is because its setting is in an English speaking country during the old times, so a simple but formal English language would make it sound even more realistic.

The opening and ending themes are also fantastic and matches the anime as well. They are like combination of classic and modern music that made it suitable for the anime yet appealing to the viewers.

Actually, you don’t need to watch the anime for you to like the songs, since they are composed really well. However, using them into an anime would give you more feeling and understanding of the song.

Rating: 9

Presentation

Uniqueness and enjoyability
Action, drama, friendship, romance, comedy, mystery, family love, fantasy, history and many more, name it and Kuroshitsuji has it. This anime contains most of the elements that you are looking for that makes it more entertaining. Naruto and Bleach are some animes that also have those elements, but what makes Kuroshitsuji unique is its overall presentation. Kuroshitsuji has a great story, outstanding characters, classic and detailed art and cool sounds. Put them together and you’ll get an exceptional anime with a new taste.

Kuroshitsuji may be a serious type of anime, but finding boring moments will be certainly hard. If you are not moved by its sad and touching story of family, romance and friendship, you will find yourself laughing with the characters’ hilarity. Even some parts of the anime is predictable, great suspense and amusement is still present because of its action packed scenes.

Rating: 10

Final Verdict

9.83 (excellent)

Comics on Sale 2/24/10

Once again thanks to Warped Savant on Whitechapel

 

28 Days Later #7
Airfighters #1
Amazing Spider-Man #622
Archie #606
Army of Two #2
Avengers Initiative #33 Siege
AVP Three World ar #2 (of 6)
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Darkstalkers Night Warriors #1 (of 3)
Deadpool #20
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Donald Duck and Friends #351
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Scalped #35
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X-Factor #202
X-Force #24 XN
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Trade Paperbacks

45 GN
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Angel Only Human TP
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Spider-Man Anti-Venom TP
Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade 11.5 Anniversary Ed HC
Star Wars Legacy TP Vol 8 Tattoine
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Ultimate Comics Iron Man Ultimate Collection TP
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Wolverine Dark Wolverine TP Prince 

Y: The Last Man: Review – Why We Do the Things We Do

Y: the Last Man boils down to a story about a man and his monkey.  Well, it’s a little deeper than that.  It is the story of Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand.  Like Transmet, Y was done as twelve issues a year for five years.  Every issue is filled with stunning  story and visuals.  It’s like the Princess Bride of graphic novels.  It has action, adventure, intrigue, romance, love, science, and poop flinging. 

Yorick’s story starts with him on the phone with his love Beth.  It’s a very long distance relationship, as Yorick is in New York and Beth is in Australia.  He is hanging upside down wearing a strait jacket.  You see, Yorick is somewhat of an escape artist.  Escape is a good skill for the last man on earth.  Shortly after we meet Yorick every male on the planet dies.  That includes men, boys, and male children, including all male mammals.  

Tensions are heightened as we see different parts of our culture in ways we haven’t seen before.  What would happen if the Senate seats held by men were suddenly evacuated?  Would you hold elections?  Let the wives take over the seats?  Brian K. Vaughan tackles all sorts of interesting issues. 

I love Y.  It’s one of my favorite graphic novels of all time.  By the end of the series you really care about the characters and relationships.  What happens to Beth?  How about her and Yorick?  As the story progresses we learn more and meet new and interesting people.  Dr. Mann and Agent 355 are a few examples.  Dr. Mann is a leader in the world of biology and an expert in the field of cloning.  Agent 355 is a spy like character.  The relationship between them and Yorick is extremely fun and interesting to watch.  The other relationships are just as interesting.  Yorick and his sister Hero have some interesting troubles that go far beyond that of normal sibling rivalry.  Vaughan writes very deep and interesting characters.

The characters in Y are also very beautifully represented by Pia Guerra’s artwork.  Each character and place is beautifully represented.  You can see the emotions on the faces of the characters and every landscape is a panorama of awesome.  Fully half of the story is told here.  Every part is fully realized, from the women, (amazon’s and lipstick lesbians alike) to the buildings and vehicles.  If I say more it might be a spoiler.  But it’s worth checking out Y just for the art.

Overall

Overall Y: the Last Man is an amazing beast of a piece.  It’s a wonderful and gripping story of man, love and sex in a world we all sometimes wish we could live in.  Come on, I know you’ve dreamed about it.  Well Yorick is living the dream, and I’m not so sure it’s the wondrous place we all imagined.  Pick it up; you owe it to yourself to enjoy this graphic novel.

4.5 monkey poos out of 5