Archives for posts with tag: David Cage

If you visit this blog with any regularity, you may have noticed something of a drop-off in content recently. It’s not so much laziness on my part (I promise); more that there hasn’t been much gaming news of late that has interested me enough to comment on.

I suppose that’s the way it goes at this time of year, when publishers are shipping out their big hopes for the Christmas period, and focus shifts from updates on in-development titles to sales numbers. Information like this doesn’t really interest me – I want to write and talk about games, not numbers of units shifted.

And so, staring at my shelves, laden end to-end and top-to-bottom with a considerable percentage of games I may never play (thanks to both the speed at which games drop in price these days, and my own inability to control my videogame spending), I had an idea: Why not write about these games I’m yet to play, and maybe give myself the kick up the arse I need to cross some off of my to-do list? I’m thinking I might do one of these a week, focusing on those titles that are foremost in my gaming regrets. So today, I’m kicking off with…

Heavy Rain
There are a few fairly good reasons why I’ve not yet got around to playing Heavy Rain. To begin with, it doesn’t help the PS3 (or indeed the Wii) that my 360 is my main console – pretty much all my multi-platform games are bought on the 360, and it’s the machine that sees by far the most use. The other two are mainly used for some fantastic exclusive titles, but with 90% of releases these days being mirrored across the two HD consoles, it leaves little free time for me to show the other consoles much love.

Secondly, Quantic Dream themselves are something of an issue for me. Granted, David Cage often comes across in interviews as if he’s convinced of his own importance (though it would be silly to form an opinion of someone’s personality based on nothing more than answers given to questions likely posed to provoke a response), but this isn’t my issue here. No, part of my reticence to play Heavy Rain stems from the one Quantic Dream game I have played: Fahrenheit, otherwise known as Indigo Prophecy.

I often see Fahrenheit used as an example of an intriguing story that utterly squanders its promise, and this is pretty much how I feel about it. The opening third of the game is fantastic, as one of a handful of playable characters wakes from a trance, having committed a brutal murder, and makes an attempt to hide evidence before escaping the scene. Perspective then switches to a pair of cops investigating the very murder that took place at the game’s start, which lends the game an intriguing cat-and-mouse element, with the player taking on the roles of both hunter and hunted.

The middle section sags a little with some questionable attempts at character building, before it all begins to fall apart and the story disappears up its own arse and into the realms of the ridiculous. For me, it was the kind of story development that made me want to flip over virtual tables, and the fact that it utterly destroyed the creeping atmosphere and intriguing premise that the opening hours worked so hard to build made it all the worse. The problems with Fahrenheit‘s story, characterisation and ending has always made me nervous to play Quantic Dream’s follow-up project. Sure, in most games, it’s often easy to overlook elements like this if you’re having fun with the gameplay, but considering how elevated in importance these elements are in Quantic Dream’s work, if those aren’t done right here, there’s not much left.

Perhaps the main reason I’m yet to play Heavy Rain, however, is down to one specific moron on the internet. Back when the game was originally released, a user on one of the forums I used to frequent decided to go around both forum threads and story comments spamming the identity of the game’s ‘Origami Killer’. Another user decided to compound this idiocy by confirming what the first cretin had posted. The story’s premise is discovering the identity (and solving the mystery) of the Origami Killer, so with that ruined,  I felt the game wouldn’t have quite the impact it would have had if I’d gone in completely blind. As it stands now, I’d be controlling one character knowing they’re the one to blame for everything that’s happening, and that’s surely going to affect how I play, and subsequently enjoy, the game. If anyone has access to a Men in Black neuralyzer, now would be a good time to offer its services…

It may sound like I don’t want to play Heavy Rain, but I really do – it’s in my collection, after all, and what I’ve heard from friends sounds promising. Curiously, it might be Quantic Dream’s upcoming Beyond: Two Souls that finally convinces me to stick the disc into my PS3’s drive and finally work my way through it – as excited as I am for that game, I’d like to see how Cage and Quantic Dream’s storytelling and execution have evolved since Fahrenheit caused me such disappointment. And if am to find a significant step up from the team’s last-gen outing, it may even increase my anticipation for their forthcoming title.

Do you have an enormous backlog? Feel free to leave a comment detailing your big gaming regrets, or, alternatively, lambasting me for my own.

Today I’m focussing on Sony’s showing at E3, so first some words about their conference, and then onto the games!

Sony
Sony’s conference was as up and down as Microsoft’s, but had the virtue of being bookended by two upcoming new IPs; Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Unfortunately, it sagged massively in the middle – not good when you’ve sat up until 2am to watch it – when Andrew House came out on stage to talk about their new augmented reality book project, Wonderbook. Entirely too much time was devoted to this, which could have been allocated to the Vita; Sony essentially hung the handheld out to dry, finally announcing PSOne Classics support, showing Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, and… not much else.

Like Microsoft, they also spent time talking about apps and mobile, specifically the change in name for the Playstation Suite to Playstation Mobile, and news that they’ll be bringing it to more Android devices via a partnership with HTC. God of War: Ascension was also shown off in single-player form, and… well, it was God of War, but now with added Elephant Men…

Beyond: Two Souls
David Cage took to the stage to introduce his team’s new project, and after the now-customary talking-up of his own studio, he began to tell us about the premise behind Beyond: Two Souls. “Death is the biggest mystery of mankind,” he tells us, before going on to introduce the character of Jodie Holmes, who has always felt a link to some unseen entity, a spirit, perhaps, existing between our world and the next. The game will take place over fifteen years of Jodie’s life, as she begins to discover more about what lies beyond.

Cage goes on to tell us who will be playing the lead role of Jodie in the game. “I was looking for a talented young actress, someone who could embody Beyond’s lead role in a very unique way,” he told the assembled throng. “So… Ellen Page?”, I thought to myself. “I am proud to announce that Jodie Holmes will be played by Academy Award nominee Ellen Page,” he confirmed. Yep. Saw that coming. With that out of the way, Cage introduces some footage from the game, pointing out that everything we see is real time.

In the cutscene, we see a police officer attempting to talk to a non-communicative, shaven headed Jodie. It’s graphically very impressive, particularly the facial animation and lip-synching which, while not as accurate as LA Noire, seems to be quite spot-on. The sense of atmosphere is also well realised, with oppressively dim lighting and sparse sound design. Our cop friend tells Jodie he found her in the middle of nowhere, asking if she was in an accident, but she gives him nothing, and simply stares blankly ahead.

As he walks around Jodie, he notices what seems to be a scar on the back of her head. As he approaches, a coffee cup flies from the table to smash against the far wall, as if telekinetically thrown or flung by a poltergeist. Visibly shaken by this occurence, the officer decides to leave the room to check missing persons lists. He tells Jodie he’ll be right outside, and as she sits alone in the interview room, she remarks to some unseen individual, “I know. They’re coming.”

Outside the room, a heavily-armed SWAT team enters the police station, weapons raised. It’s clear they’re here for Jodie. As they take up position, the man in charge motions for the police officer to open the door to the interview room. Unfortunately, we don’t see what happens next as the screen fades to black, but we are treated to an action-packed trailer depicting Jodie on the run from soldiers. It appears that possessing enemies will be a central game mechanic, as we see some kind of spectral energy entering a soldier, whose eyes then turn white. Another scene shows Jodie being shot at while some kind of shield seems to be protecting her from harm. The trailer ends with our protagonist standing over the SWAT commander, telling him to leave her alone, or she’ll “kill everyone”, before remarking to her unseen partner that she thinks they get the message.

I must say I’m more interested in Quantic Dream’s latest than I was in Heavy Rain, mostly down to the supernatural edge, but I’m still a bit skeptical. I don’t know what to make of Quantic Dream and David Cage; I get that they want to create filmic, interactive narratives, but I just don’t know if I’m sold on the execution. Regardless, thematically and visually, the game looks fantastic, and I’m hoping there will be more gameplay meat on those narrative bones. We’ll have to wait and see, but at the very least, Beyond: Two Souls is on my radar.

See David Cage’s E3 presentation below.


*Editor’s note: The video has a slight blip at around the four minute mark. I looked around, but they all seemed to be the same, so apologies for that*

Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls is currently slated for release in Q1 2013.