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[Retro Review] Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy (PS2/X-Box/PC) - Before the Heavy Rain

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It's surprising how some movies are given alternate titles when they are distributed to other English-speaking countries. Whether it's a case of some words not having quite the same meaning, or the movie execs underestimating the intelligence of their audiences isn't clear. But there have certainly been some interesting movie name changes. 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was known as 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' in America. Crime thriller 'Reindeer Games' was retitled 'Deception'. In some countries, 'Braveheart' was known as 'Angry Angry Mel Gibson' and 'Armaggedon' became 'Die Hard in Space on a Big Rock'. And most recently, 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' was released in the UK as 'Gawp at Dinosaurs, Robots and Explosions. Gawp and Give Us All Your Money, You Thundering Imbeciles.'

But for my money, the most bizarre title change in history has to go to not a game, but to Quantic Dream's Fahrenheit. This game was alternatively known in the US as Indigo Prophecy, despite both titles failing to describe the game in any way, shape or form. But this didn't stop the game from selling fairly well and receiving a few gaming awards. It was essentially the pre-cursor to Heavy Rain and was released on the PC, PS2 and the original X-Box. My experience of the game came from playing it on the latter console, though it's recently been re-released in an enhanced version on the PC. Though to be honest, as was the case with Heavy Rain, I don't really have much interest in playing it again. Why? Read on and find out.

Like Heavy Rain, Fahrenheit cast you as one of several characters – a man on the run, a female cop, and her partner. This actually created quite an interesting dynamic in that you could be playing as Lucas, the fugitive and then in the next section you could be playing as one of the cops trying to track him down. Should you deliberately miss clues in order to help Lucas get a head start on the police? At least, that was the way things were supposed to work. This aspect of the game was heavily hyped in the press, one of the game's main selling features being that your actions would have an impact later on in the game. However, as the game progressed it became apparent that this wasn't really the case, and that the game was actually pretty linear.

Fahrenheit was a third person action/adventure game which combined short adventure sections with button pushing action sequences. So you could be looking for a place to hide a murder weapon and then, shortly after, be mashing buttons in order to outrun the police officer who was pursuing you. Or, in one of the game's most infamous sections, awkwardly having sex with a female character. No, really. Insert your own 'Sex Axis/Dual Cock' joke here. However, Fahrenheit got a lot weirder than that.

Fahrenheit was a lot of fun to play at first, as you struggled to both evade the police and find out what was happening to you, or, playing as the cops, track down Lucas. Even though all you were doing was pushing buttons during the action sequences, it was still surprisingly satisfying to make your character dash across the road, dashing past cars and outrunning his pursuers. The graphics were also pretty good at the time, even on the PS2 which was the least powerful of the three platforms the game was released on. And the voice acting and music were top notch, due in part to David Cage's cinematic aspirations.

However, about two thirds of the way through the game, things got a bit weird. Without any real explanation, Lucas gained superpowers and hence you ended up participating in a load of wire-fight style action sequences. Almost as if someone on the design team wanted to copy The Matrix – which was released at roughly the same time – and as a result threw those sequences in. And the plot? The plot went absolutely loopy, and you ended up fighting the internet. Yes, it's as daft as it sounds and my suspicion is that they ran out of time or money and hence had to finish the game quickly.

At the time, Fahrenheit was a bit of an eye-opener for it's interesting design and use of button-mashing action sequences. Now these features are more commonly used in other titles – whether that's a good or thing or not is open for debate. If you've never played it before, it's definitely worth hunting down, as something of a gaming curio and for being the spiritual prequel to Heavy Rain. But if you've already played it then, despite the recent remastered re-release of the PC version, there's not much reason to go to back to it.

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About ChrisHannardone of us since 4:27 PM on 09.03.2015