I've watched movies my whole life, and I've played video games my whole life. This new game for Playstation 3 that came out this past Tuesday, Heavy Rain, is the closest thing I've ever experienced to a blend between movie watching and gaming.
The game basically works as a long "cinema scene". Which means, based on most games, you do some actions (like get through a segment of the game, beat a boss, etc), and then you sit back and watch a computer animated, almost short film-type thing, that is purely for the sake of watching and enjoying, then go back to the action. But Heavy Rain is I'd say, about 85% cinema scenes, and the game play entails actively participating in the watching of these scenes. It is extremely cool!
For instance, early in the game you get in a fist fight, in a different (normal) game you would move around yourself, do everything with your own controls. In this game you simply are watching the fight unfold like you would in a film, and onscreen commands prompt you to take action right as they are happening in real time, and it effects the outcome of the cinema scene. So the character I'm playing with gets punched into the kitchen, and I'm prompted with choices I must make in real time to either do THIS or do THAT. It would be like if I was watching Jaws, and Quint is getting attacked by the shark, and as it's happening I have to choose in real time whether or not to kick the shark or throw a nearby object at it. And if you just don't react quick enough to choose anything, there goes Quint's legs. Your effecting the outcome of a movie, instead of simply wondering around wreaking havoc however you want (i.e. Grand Theft Auto). And the choices you make effect the game in the long run. Major characters can apparently die (hasn't happened to me yet) and the game will continue on down a story arc without them.
The people who make the game refer to the whole project as "interactive drama", and (unless you played Shenmue) this whole concept of interactive cinema scenes making up this much of a major game is a new concept to the gaming world. And the story is incredible as well, the game is most of all story driven. I've clocked in about 5 hours of playing time since Tuesday, and I'm as emotionally hooked into the story as just about any movie would have me. I just think this is an exciting development in blending two mediums together, if you consider this doing that (I do).
Maybe I'm not doing it justice in my description, but I had 20 minutes left on a compression, so I thought I'd share Heavy Rain with you, haha. It really is more than anything, like a really long interactive film (and that's how they've been advertising it as well) Here's some pics:
Glad to hear the good review Scott, I've been wanting to check out this game for those reasons you mentioned in it's blend of storytelling and interaction. I heard it has some bugs in terms of subplots and characters having a full story arc, but hopefully this storytelling process will evolve and some of those kinks will get worked out.
I remember back in the 90s I played the Tex Murphy "Under a Killing Moon" games which were about as close to this as we could get back then. Great games, classic.