Steered by its creator's technical expertise in motion capture technology and pushing the graphical capabilities of Sony’s home console to new heights along with it, Heavy Rain was not only one of the best examples of narrative within the medium of videogames, but it also happened to be one of this generation’s finest-looking games. Now the developer behind it, Quantic Dream, has aimed to raise the bar once again, showing off one of the most visually spectacular and technically-brilliant tech demos we've ever had the fortune of seeing.
Named 'Kara', studio boss David Cage has heavily insisted the demo acts as nothing more than presenting the developer's new game engine, dampening our spirits (and, it seems, the general gaming populous) that we'd be seeing the French developer take on a project delved deep under the skin of advanced robotics, cybernetics and cyborgs - a Blade Runner for the PS3 generation. What redeems us from the pit of despair instead is the spectacular tech demo itself, presenting an android girl – the namesake Kara, played by Valorie Curry – being constructed and calibrated by robotic machinery, before being disassembled when she begins to show self-awareness and clarity of thought amidst the bleach white environment of the assembly line.
Packing a punch in terms of unbridled emotion as she begins to beg for her life, the demo aptly demonstrates the terrific strides Quantic Dream has made in full-performance capture – Heavy Rain's voice work was disconnected to motion capture performances, with the team splicing the two together at the editing stages – and the strides it's taking to deliver an engine almost untouched in the visual department. Simply put, it's breathtaking. Running in real-time on PS3, the demo has been ready for around a year, according to Cage, and actually uses only about 50 percent of the engine's capabilities.
The studio hasn't been shy of showing off its own terrific work before. For anyone who remembers 'The Casting' tech demo, it gave a sneak peek at some of the raw emotion possible in, and technical sophistication of, Heavy Rain's engine even before we had any sense of the team's direction following Fahrenheit. If this is an indication of what's to come then we have something truly special to look forward to.