If you’ve reading this then I guess you own a PlayStation 3, and unless you have been locked in a storm drain for the past year or so, I also guess you’ll have heard of the BAFTA award winning PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain. For those who have been in that storm drain, Heavy Rain was released on PlayStation 3 in February 2010. Since its genre defining debut, its become a massive commercial and critical success. Gaining many accolades and awards. As well as a unique control system, and motion-captured character animation, Heavy Rain also set a next bench mark in terms of story-driven gaming, aimed at a grown-up audience.
Almost a year after it’s release, Heavy Rain creator and Quantic Dream studio head David Cage, gave a keynote speech at 2011 Games Developer Conference in San Francisco, where he spoke in great detail about how Heavy Rain gave birth to a new genre. The main focus of his keynote was how he would like to see more game like Heavy Rain, that focus on different emotions and that are more ‘grown-up’ he also expressed his interested in making a ‘war game’.
During his speech Cage said “….you have a gun and you can shoot at enemies to go through the level, to fight a boss..to go to the next level to fight more enemies and more bosses.” he also added “the game tells me I’m the good guy, although I’m a mass murderer – because I have to kill thousands of people in order to be that good guy….” He has a point, in games like Call of Duty, they place you in times of conflict and try to connect you to the terrible acts of war. But fails miserably and just leave you, as Cage said gunning down masses of faceless enemies in order to rack up the points. War is a terrible but often necessary thing. Something with has yet to be truly translated into a game. Which got me thinking, what would a David Cage ‘war game’ be like?
Heavy Rain connected you as a player with the characters you become, doing meaningless actions like brushing you teeth or having a drink of orange juice, these actions didn’t unlock a grenade launcher or advance the game in any way, but did help you relate to the character. As a player you felt their pain, their anguish, their emotion. This type of emotional gameplay would translate well into a ‘war game’, imagine settling into the role of a young field medic during World War II, the game opens in the trenches and thats were you stay for the first few hours of the game. You’re scared, you miss home, all around you there are others in the same boat. Some are coping better than others. You strike up a friendship with another young recruit, as you sit in the cold, wet trenches, you talk about home, you ease each others fears. But in the back of your mind you know the moment is nearing when the final push will come. Then as you charge through the battlefields, there’s death all around you, but it’s your duty to tend to the wounded. All this is happening and at no point in the game do you fire a gun. The focus would be on the emotion and effects of the War, not how awesome it is to sniper that German dude from atop a burning church.
CoD and Medal of Honor, do try to connect you to the horrors of war. Like the now fabled Nuke blast in Modern Warfare or the much debated Airport scene ‘No Russian’ from Modern Warfare 2, but when armed to the teeth with several guns and an endless amount of ammo, you really are just racking up the body count in order to move to the next fight. If you spoke to any veterans of war, I’m sure they would recall a different account of things.
I for one would be very interested in playing a more adult-focused, story driven ‘war game’ but what do you think? Could the mechanics and emotional connections seen in Heavy Rain translate into a ‘war game’? Would you play it or do you prefer the mindless running and gunning of Call of Duty? We would like to hear your thoughts over in the forum.