February 28, 2010

"Heavy Rain" is brilliant, except for the part when it freezes

Like many a PlayStation 3 gamer this weekend, I'm totally engrossed in the dark, Fincher-esque world of "Heavy Rain," a gripping and surprisingly emotional noir that effectively blurs the line between movies and video games. Indeed, "Heavy Rain" is so absorbing that I often find myself forgetting that yes, I do need to pull the R2 trigger to get my grim-yet-determined gumshoe detective (or the desperate father, resourceful mother, or the tech-savvy FBI agent) walking again.

But there's one issue that keeps ripping me out of the mesmerizing "Heavy Rain" experience, and that's the fact that the game grinds to a screeching halt every so often, locking up so completely that I have to get up and do a hard reset on my PS3. Most notably, it happened in the "Crime Scene" chapter early in the game, after my character wandered a little too far away from the action. The sound kept going, but the screen froze, and not even the PS button could shake things loose; I literally had to press and hold the PS3 power button for a hard reset, losing much of my progress during the chapter in the bargain. And once the console rebooted and the game restarted, it took a good five minutes on the loading screen (which features one of the four main characters in extreme close-up, staring right at you—creepy!) before "Heavy Rain" came back to life.

And that's not the only technical problem I've encountered; screen tearing is rampant, marring the otherwise stellar graphics, and the "loading..." screens regularly take minutes at a time to complete, especially when there's a trophy involved (and yes, this is after I downloaded and installed the recent patch).

The only real tip for dealing with "Heavy Rain" freezing on you is to be patient; as this Joystiq post notes, you may have to wait several minutes for the game to load up a save file after a hard reset. That's too bad, because annoying glitches aside, "Heavy Rain" is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year.

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