Sunday, February 28, 2010

SEX!

Now that I have your attention, there's a sex scene in Heavy Rain.

I suppose it's more appropriate to call it a foreplay scene - the player is in control of whether or not two characters make out and get their tops off. Very hot. Sorta'. Ish. Hot-ish.

Okay it approaches hot, but it's not quite hot. Or romantic. Right before planting the first kiss, one of the characters says "the only thing that matters right now is (a life-or-death situation that's assuredly not kissing)." So I guess the director thought it obvious that the next thing the character would do is start making out with a relative stranger.

Right.

At the same time, it's a better attempt than BioWare's work in Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect. It's only in the past few years that mainstream games have even attempted The Love Scene, and while animation plays no small part in the matter, I have to say Heavy Rain's stands a little higher on the Podium of Authentic Video Game Sex thanks to voice work.

Or, more accurately, breath work. It's hard to describe without coming off as supremely creepy, but the result is a more intimate experience than the scenes in BioWare's RPG epics. When you're watching two video game characters trying to emulate the supple movements of lovemaking set to music (BioWare), it's much easier to focus on the fact that this looks an awful lot like a video game version of smacking a Ken doll against Barbie.

When you throw in audio that reflects two humans getting it on, for a moment it's able to squeeze past the wary, cynical part of your brain that wants to dislike such scenes. Now it's not just watching video game characters bumping against each other like plastic toys - it's watching and hearing it, which manages to have a pretty huge impact on how believable the scene becomes.

Heavy Rain tries really, really hard to be a game for adults. Adult subject matter, adult themes, relationships that only adults can fully understand - and the love scene is part of Quantic Dreams' attempt to legitimize truly mature video game entertainment - but the industry (and Quantic Dreams) still have quite a ways to go.

I have to think this is another example of Heavy Rain being a little too heavy-handed - with its drama, dialogue, and yes, romance. As mentioned in the review, less is very often more - particularly when it comes to narrative - and the love scene in Heavy Rain would have been just as impactful with a lot less.

Have them kiss twice. Take off their tops. Fade to black.

Don't give us time to focus on how unnatural it looks to see two video game characters' geometry fumbling against each other's like unyielding plastic toys. Hit us with the emotional value of the action and leave us with that impression, instead of how wrong it still looks and feels when video games attempt The Love Scene.

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