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Voice Acting and Cinematic Immersion

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  • With such a strong cinematic emphasis on capturing human performances in a videogame - I was head-over-heels excited for Heavy Rain. Everything about it sounded great all the way down to the soundtrack. Being a fan of Quantic Dream's previous title 'Indigo Prophecy' - getting my hands on Heavy Rain was a "must do" on my gaming checklist.

    Then I played the Heavy Rain demo.

    First and foremost - I cannot believe how bad the voice acting is, in a game that relies so heavily on human performance's. How was this not a top priority for Quantic Dream from the onset? When the character's are speaking (in the demo), it sounds like each line is a separately recorded, self contained audio file... As if the voice actors were given a 300 page script that was shuffled into a random order - and each line is spoken completely out of context. When Detective Shelby is speaking to the hooker in the hotel room - he has absolutely no "flow" to his dialogue and its difficult to become immersed in the world when everything sounds so....fake. This then results in incredibly awkward interactions. Like fighting a biker for what seems like 20 minutes and completely destroying a woman's apartment - only to have her give me a quick "thanks" and me waving her off with my hand and telling her that he'll probably be back. What?

    The second issue is that - while the concept of the game sounds great on paper, there's one huge flaw that shatters the illusion of the cinematic feeling. Theoretically, since the game is shot like a film (with cinematic camera angles) - you should (in theory) walk purposefully from point A to point B with confidence to look good for the camera while playing the game perfectly. If you do stop, it should look natural and make sense in the world of Heavy Rain.

    However, given that this is a detective style game where you're looking for evidence/clues, what do you think the majority of gamers will do when walking around in Heavy Rain? My guess is that they will search each environment carefully, looking for clues or context sensitive prompts to appear which may lead to clues. Unfortunately for Heavy Rain, its not going to look very cinematic when your character is walk-sliding against walls and objects as if everything were padded with bumper lanes. Just like in the old resident evil games, you need to be right on top of something to interact with it. "Can I open this mini-fridge over here? How about this desk drawer? I wonder if I can use this payphone?"

    Having said all that, I've only technically played the demo - is my latter complain valid, or did anyone find that not to be much of a problem? Should I or someone with similar concerns still give Heavy Rain a go?

     

  • The voice acting does kind of stink. I don't understand why they couldn't have hired native speakers. I say this because you can tell they aren't. In a scene with two kids interacting the voice acting was just horrible with accents becoming evident and weird emphasis on letters that "real" Americans would never do.

    horrible voice acting aside...get it.

    If you liked indigo prophecy you will definitely like heavy rain.

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