Friday Night Gaming – WKC:I and Heavy Rain Demo Impressions

I started my Friday night gaming session thinking I was going to have a small dose of WKC:I followed by a quick game of Madden Ultimate Team, and maybe a fast-follower nightcap of Zen Pinball or HVB.

Because I pre-ordered Heavy Rain earlier in the day, I decided to download the demo. I figured I could get in some quality gaming action while the demo downloaded in the background. My experience with PSN downloads, unlike yours truly, is that you would not consider them speedy. Surprisingly I had the demo in under a couple of hours.

Thanks to being completely immersed in WKC:I and the Heavy Rain demo, Madden 10 and the others had to wait.

White Knight Chronicles: International
While I am not very far into the game’s story, I continue to enjoy it, exploring its depths. It is funny how much some of the reviews are docking the game for substandard graphics. I really wonder what everyone was expecting. I agree that the graphics are not the best ever, but the large, detail environments more make up for any shortfalls in the character models, animation, and other details that the pundits find lacking. I really think this view is ridiculous, but I think I am just going to back off of it for a while.

The slow-paced, turn-based combat system is another area where most reviewers have damned the game with piss poor review scores. Once again I have to ask what they were expecting. Zelda? Tekken? Give me a break.

I have not read the manual, and I have not looked at any guidebooks or online FAQs. I really have no idea if I taking my characters in the right direction with my skill, magic, and combat choices. The key for me is that I am having fun in the process; learning how to make new combat combinations is part of the experience. I think WKC:I will open up to a whole different level of RPG combat joy once I actually bother to read the manual, and master some of the skill and combo techniques. In other words, if I actually knew WTF I was doing, I bet I would be effective with WKC:I’s combat system, which begs the question. Who pissed in the reviewers’ Cheerios?

Last night I also attempted to do the online Georama thing for the first time. I did not spend much time in online other than poking around a little bit; it was getting late and the Heavy Rain demo was calling my name.

Getting online was not a simple process. After accepting an overbearing on-line agreement, that looks to be one that you have to accept each time you enter the online mode, I had to enter a new character name; for some reason my avatar’s name was unacceptable.

I am not sure what was wrong with Ming-Fu. Was this name already taken? Are special characters (i.e. a hyphen) not allowed? Does the game engine have some sort of filter that deemed my avatar’s name offensive and generally not acceptable? As my grandmother used to say – that was a hell of a note.

I attempted multiple combinations [Ming-Fu, MingFu, Fu-Ming, Meing-Fu, MeingFu, Fuu-Ming, etc] before finally giving up and going with jcalvert. The one and only; I’m so original. I am not sure what sort of consequences this will have on my offline silent partner avatar, Ming-Fu. Maybe he will have split personalities.

While WKC:I may not be for everyone, especially the pundits that are trashing the game, I implore JRPG fans to give it a spin because WKC:I is a very solid outing.

Heavy Rain – Demo. Spoiler Free Comments
If you are attempting to stay spoiler free, I will oblige to the best of my abilities, but be forewarned that based on the content of the game, it is almost impossible to not give away something.

There are enough reviews and critiques of the demo that I am debating on not going to go into a ton of details yet on the demo. Let’s stick with this approach for a few minutes and see where this takes us once we reach the end of my comments. I’ll stay away from the specifics of the story, at least as it unfolds in the demo; instead I’ll concentrate on Heavy Rain’s gameplay aspects.

It may be a sign of where I am in my gaming career, but I really have not read that much about Heavy Rain. I have seen it mentioned in print magazines, various sites, etc for a long time. Other than it being “the next great game” I did not have any expectations.

I started seeing more and more hype, complete with impressive review scores, which takes us right up to the point where I pre-ordered the game and downloaded the demo.

From the trailer it is obvious that this game is very dark, and will feature heavy content, especially for parents. In fact, I know enough details about some of the back-story that I may consider pulling the plug on my preorder. Call me sensitive to this sort of thing; you can read between the lines … you have been warned.

My first thoughts about the game: an immersive cinematic story-based experience. Dare I say an interactive Myst? I think I have seen this type of game before – being prompted for button presses and certain actions and controller movements is nothing revolutionary. In the case of Heavy Rain, these controls are integral to the game and overall experience. After one session with the demo, I am not sure if my initial thoughts are fair because Heavy Rain is about the experience. Immersive, deep, brooding; I think gamers will get lost in their gaming sessions, which is the point of a well designed game.

Think of Heavy Rain as an interactive R rated movie – violence that is appropriate to the story, very mature content that is pertinent to the overall journey. Of course Heavy Rain’s nudity is well documented, none of which is featured in the demo (at least I did not uncover any); however the demo does have some very suggestive sexual content. Once again, go elsewhere for spoilers.

I wrapped up the two chapters in the demo in about 30-40 minutes, so an obvious concern with the actual game will be replay factor. I have read that the game can be completed in 8-10 hours, but I am trying to stay away from spoilers so I am not sure if this includes a single play-through or if taking different actions and branches increases the overall length of the game.

Based on my 30 minutes with the demo, I believe that Heavy Rain will go down in history as a ground breaking, revolutionary gaming experience. Heavy Rain features high quality production values that broach topics that have never been covered in a video game. Heavy Rain will break taboos that will put it squarely in the arena of appropriate, tastefully done adult gaming content. Heavy Rain truly brings gaming into an adult arena; video games have grown up.

In spite of my trepidations about the main catalyst of the story, I am very much looking forward to the game, and am anxious to play the demo again. Of course I will have to wait until the kids go to bed due to the adult content.


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