Borderlands Review Posted / Heavy Rain

My Borderlands review is now up, so please give it a read when you have some time. I was strongly tempted to make it a blog post with some images and captions, but since it seems kind of taboo to do so, I put it in its proper place.

Heavy Rain: First Impressions

The evil folks at Gamefly decided not to send me a copy of Super Street Fighter IV this time around, so now I have my own rental copy of Heavy Rain. In all honesty, I’ve been throwing Heavy Rain back to the bottom of the queue since I wasn’t terribly impressed with the demo. But Brutal Legend was dragging again and Killzone 2 was sadly starting to wear me out, so I popped Heavy Rain into the machine. Fittingly, it was raining outside when I started to play.

First off, the English voice acting is hideously atrocious, which in this case might be understandable considering it’s a French game. This naturally brought to mind my post on learning other languages while playing video games, and I quickly switched the voice acting over to French and the subtitles to English. The experience became markedly better, especially when it came to the thoughts button. Since Heavy Rain is much more voiced-based than Assassin’s Creed II, this may actually be the perfect game for improving my French before my big trip next month. I’ve also recently seen many American gamers making fun of some of the game’s lines, but this incident has strongly led me to believe that we’re mainly dealing with a case of poor translation.

(Spoilers!)

Secondly, during your first moments with Ethan Mars at the start of the game, you pass a little bird in a cage right outside his bedroom door. This cage is on a table of sorts, well away from any windows and strong sunlight, and in one of the least important parts of the house. It’s a spot that just screams neglect.

Anyway, my wife’s an animal person. We have a quaker parrot, a blind pug, a gigantic Norwegian Forest Cat along with a cuddly black female cat, five bearded dragons, and, yes, two snakes. Despite this menagerie, our place is spaced pleasantly enough that you barely notice that all these animals are around. We both help out with an animal rescue program on occasion, and I’m responsible for much of the organization’s graphic design.

So when my wife saw Ethan walk out of the bedroom, she immediately said, “Talk to that poor bird! And feed him! He’s all alone in the shadows!” I fiddled with the controls and said, “Doesn’t look like you can.” She also pointed out that the cage had no toys to keep his mind occupied, no treats, no water dish, no nothing. She encouraged me to hang around a bit longer, but I assured her that the cage and the bird were just background props and that we’d probably never see them again. She reprimanded me for leaving the bird to die without any food or something to play with.

The joke’s on me. Fast forward about twenty minutes, and Ethan comes up the stairs to find his son Jason crying before the bird cage. The bird, it turns out, had died (of natural causes, we’re led to believe). It was too much. I immediately burst out laughing and my wife said, “See? You killed him!”

Since then, we’ve had many more laugh-out-loud moments with Heavy Rain, but I’ll refrain from relating them both because of spoilers and because I really do enjoy the game and I don’t want to give the wrong impression.

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