PlayStation Universe

In the Spotlight: Ethan Mars

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on 28 May 2011

How far would YOU go to save someone you love? Right now, we’re not too sure, but if there’s one person who can state in unequivocal terms what they’d be prepared to put themselves through to save a loved one, its Heavy Rain’s Ethan Mars. Indeed, this is one bloke we don’t envy, yet at the same time, admire profusely. Why? Because the guy’s got balls. Despite being put through the emotional and physical equivalent of a meat grinder, Mars doesn’t let up in his quest to rescue his kidnapped son, and his tenacity and undying love for Shaun speaks volumes to his human spirit. Well, that is assuming you WANT him to see things through to the bitter end and not have him chicken out and act like an utter jerk, but our experience with Heavy Rain painted Mars as the hero we desired of him. And that’s a man of sheer, iron-willed determination, and the latest focus of our on-going Spotlight features.

Prior to the death of Jason and Shaun’s disappearance, Mars lived the quintessential American Dream: a gorgeous wife, two kids, a nice gaff in picturesque suburbia and a cushy job as an architect. Overall, you could do a lot worse. And all-around decent bloke, Mars is a dedicated family man and seemingly well-mannered enough, though his apparent lack of rudimentary personal hygiene— I found it odd Mars could take a shower, shave and even go to the bog yet strangely refused to wash his hands after taking a quick jimmy—makes you wonder how he’s such a hit with the ladies. Go figure. Regardless, you feel for the poor chap when 1) He loses his son Jason, blames himself for the tragedy, his wife gives him the elbow, he moves into a grotty little abode in an equally grotty part of town and 2) has to move heaven and earth to rescue his second child, Shaun.

Following the accident in which Jason perished; Mars ends up in a coma and sustains long-lasting psychological issues, including acute depression, ochlophobia (fear of crowds) and frequent blackouts. To compound matters, his relationship with his remaining son Shaun is somewhat strained, with the pair having lost the loving father-son bond that they shared prior to Jason’s untimely death. As for his ex-Wife Grace, things remain tenuous at the best of times. All this takes a back seat when Shaun’s kidnapped after a bonding trip to the park however, catapulting Mars on a physical and mental rollercoaster in order to extricate the youngster from the clutches of the Origami killer. Thanks to Heavy Rain’s ‘”What If?”’ style progression however, Mars’ efforts can prove considerably easier or harder depending on your actions.

Suffice to say, our hero can embark on quite an adventure—that is, if you count subjecting yourself to unbearable agony by lopping off your own finger and getting electrocuted a thrilling experience. Many times Mars question his own abilities, but somehow he always manages to pull through. Well, just about. Providing you put him through the full fun house of pain, Mars will engage in numerous crazed activities, such as driving down the wrong side of the road, being trapped in a burning car, having to cut off one of his fingers, crawling through a broken glass-filled tunnel and going on the run from the cops just to name a few. It’s not all bone-breaking, stomach-curdling antics, though. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that, and along the way Mars can gets his leg over with the lovely Madison Page if he plays his cards right, as inaugurated by one of the most awkward kissing scenes I’ve ever witnessed from a videogame and—and there’s plenty of them.

Most games put you in control of a hulking, weapon-wielding badass devoid of anything but the ability to grunt and lay waste to legions of foes without so much as breaking a sweat. Mars, on the other hand, is perhaps more memorable than any game hero simply down to the fact he’s just an ordinary bloke thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Indeed, Mars will be remembered for doing something we can all relate to – being human. And for that, he deserves his time in the limelight.