Heavy Rain returns to PlayStation after six long years but is the remaster worth the wait?
Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain was one of the first games on the PlayStation 3 that showed off the true potential of the “Interactive Drama” genre. For its time, Heavy Rain featured top of the line facial animations and skin shaders. It was by far one of the first PlayStation 3 titles that set the benchmark for video games visuals on the console. And although its story was divisive among fans, Heavy Rain in many ways showed what the PlayStation 3 was truly capable of.
Now Sony has decided to bring it to the PlayStation 4, six years after the game’s original release back in 2010. Although the original game suffered from screen tearing, most of the game’s performance was locked at 30fps frame rate cap. So what does this remaster bring to the table or for that matter does Heavy Rain require remastering?
The first that you will notice is the jump in image quality thanks to a native 1080p resolution. Comparing the PS4 and PS3 versions side by side, the PS4 version looks much better thanks to more pixel rendering and a better MSAA solution. We will talk about the subtle graphical updates in a bit but what about performance? As mentioned before, the PS3 version was rendered at a 30fps frame rate cap and the PS4 version remains faithful to that. 30fps suits Heavy Rain because at its core it’s a cinematic experience but in many ways, there is simply no excuse why this game cannot run at 60fps on the PS4. It’s a six year old game and it goes without saying that hardware advancements have come a long way since then. Granted this game was developed on PS3’s tool-set and framework which was known for being quite difficult to develop for but that is the entire point of remastering a product, right? The lack of 30fps in Beyond Two Souls PS4 remaster could be forgiven to an extent but not in the case of Heavy Rain.
But does Quantic Dream make up for the lack of 60fps? The answer is purely a subjective one since it depends on a number of factors. We will try to answer this question in a bit but first let us discuss the subtle improvements in visuals. The first thing that can be easily observed is a better texture filtering solution and some minor improvements in the lighting tech. Unlike the PS3 version, the PS4 build now supports ambient occlusion which allows for better implementation of self casted shadows on nearby objects such as walls. Textures have been completely replaced in some places whereas skin shaders look way better in the remastered version. A higher rendering resolution removes some of the blurring effect that was present on the PlayStation 3 version and character faces and object geometry look much better on the PS4.
The amount of remastering work is certainly not up to the level of Gears of War Ultimate Edition or Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. In many ways these are subtle improvements and unless you put the two versions side by side, you won’t even notice the improvements other than the usual resolution bump which are expected from these remasters.
So coming back to our question…does the range of subtle improvements somehow cover the lack of 60fps? The answer is confusing and to an extent, obvious. If you are among those who appreciates nothing but a solid 60fps experience then the answer is obviously no. And if you are one of those who is on the lookout for subtle improvements and are happy with 30fps, then the range of improvements will appeal to you more. But if you ask where we stand, we would tell you that for a six year old title like Heavy Rain on a more powerful hardware PS4 should run at 60fps along with all the visual improvements.
At the end of the day, if you have already played Heavy Rain on the PS3 then there is no point revisiting this title. But on the other hand, Heavy Rain is one of those rare gems that hits the player hard and repeatedly asks the question: How far will you go to save someone you love? If you are a new comer, you will definitely be surprised by the several thrilling and heart breaking moments this game provides with better graphics on the PS4. The amount of trauma Ethan had to go through to save his child is stressful and is unlike anything on the market right now.