Heavy Rain Move Edition
We see it on almost a weekly basis when, on each release Friday, another third-party casual title is added to the swelling ranks of throwaway Wii games that seem to include motion control as an afterthought rather than a fundamental mechanic. Some pull it off well, but we’re talking about a select few such as Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition or Twilight Princess – games that survived shoehorn surgery and actually married well with motion control.
But for the best part, this process of retro-fitting existing IP with new control methods is a simple square peg, round hole conundrum that usually results in a weaker experience for the player. We hate to say it but at this early stage, Quantic Dream’s poignant thriller Heavy Rain suffers from the same problem as its forebears.
The original iteration of the game already featured healthy doses of manageable motion control by way of Sixaxis and, for the best part, it worked well. While we’re not here to debate the validity of the original game’s use of motion control, there were moments that it truly did make what could have been a dull experience into something more immersing.
Our hands-on time began with a new mini-chapter that served as a quick tutorial for those new to Move. The scene shows private eye Scott Shelby walking down a rain-drenched alleyway, giving some money to a homeless man before squeezing his portly frame through a gap in a fence before moving out into the main road. It’s a short scene and as far as tutorials go, not overbearing in the slightest. It’s just a shame then that the cracks in the game’s control method begin to rear their head from the get-go.
The story scene we played sees Shelby visiting potential lead Laura Winters in a seedy motel, asking her questions about the Origami Killer and getting into a bit of a scrap with a thug. As we tried to move Shelby up to the reception and grease the palm of the motel owner for information regarding Laura’s location, a few things became clear. Moving the sleuth’s head around to look at objects and potential intel is cumbersome, and it took us a few moments to properly align him with the reception window before proceeding.
When we made it to Laura’s door, we also found it difficult to knock on it using a simple upward motion. When she tried to slam the door in our face, we failed to produce the forward thrusting motion to hold it open. Most confusing of all were the motion panes that require you to keep producing a motion until the pane fills up. We had to retry a few of these before nailing them perfectly.
Thankfully, things improved once the tense fight against Laura’s attacker got underway, although this may have been because the motions in this scene were a lot simpler. Even then we missed a few short, simple diagonals and sideways motions.
The controls in the original Heavy Rain took some getting used to and we’re prepared to spend a lot more time with the game at the review stage to see if the same is true of Move Edition. But for now, we’re reminded that perhaps you truly can’t teach an old dog new tricks.