Review: Heavy Rain Move Edition

HeavyRainMoveEdition.jpg

From the moment I inserted the Heavy Rain Blu-ray disc into my PS3 and saw that the Move-introducing update was over 1GB in size, I could tell that Quantic Dream did more than staple on motion controls for the sake of stapling on motion controls. Contrary to games like Tiger Woods 11 and Toy Story 3 which don’t hide the patched-in quality of their Move add-ons very well, the Move update for Heavy Rain is effectively a re-launch of the game as a whole.

The first thing that caught my eye when the patch finished downloading and installing was the game’s revamped menu system. The main menu has been strikingly redesigned and optimized for easy point-and-click navigation with the Move wand, and a listing right on the main menu provides the option to easily switch between standard or motion controls. The difficulty settings have even been redefined as Easy and Hard while in Move mode, giving new players a clearer indication of what to expect opposed to the vague choices offered in standard mode.

In standard mode, everything has been left as is, so if you like the game in its original form, you can continue enjoying it untainted by motion controls. But with Move controls activated, Heavy Rain is almost like a new game all over again. I’ve already played through the game multiple times before this, so I wasn’t expecting anything that special when I installed the update. However, the introduction of Move does change the way you play the game in subtle ways, and many of the changes are, to my surprise, for the better.

Playing Heavy Rain with the Move requires the Navigation controller – though you can get by just fine one-handing the left side of a DualShock / Sixaxis controller. You move characters around with the left analog stick and occasionally use the L1 and L2 buttons for prompted actions and to pull up the circling thought choices, but all other interactions are handled by button presses and gestures with the Move controller. So, instead of flicking the analog stick around to open a drawer, knock on a door, or pick something up, you instead hold down the T trigger button and swipe the Move according to the on-screen indicators.

To sit, you hold the controller vertically and slide it straight down. To knock on a door, you raise your hand upward and quickly tap the head of the controller forward like you would your fist. To open a door or drawer, you do a quick push forward and pull back like you are reaching out to grab the knob/handle and pull it open. And to start up a car, you hold the controller horizontally, push forward and twist your wrist to turn the key. Those are but a few examples of how the controls have been adapted for Move playability.

Some of the exploratory gestures do feel unnatural compared to their analog stick counterparts and are too vaguely diagrammed, so there is some trial and error involved until you learn what all of the on-screen prompts mean and realize that many of the actions require smaller, more abrupt gestures rather than broad strokes with your entire arm. But the motion recognition is fluid and accurate, so once you learn the ropes performing the various actions becomes second nature. As an extra helping hand, the waggle icons turn red if you are holding the controller improperly for the current action, only activating by turning white when you have the Move in its proper position.

The motion controls for the standard adventure moments work well, but are pretty much a wash compared to using a DualShock. However, the game’s action sequences really do benefit from the Move implementation. As the QTE prompts flash (the glowing orb also flashes red as another helpful action indicator), you flick or shake the Move in the appropriate manner. It’s a small change, but it really does make you feel even more a part of the scenarios as they are playing out compared to tapping a button or flicking an analog stick. And because the Move’s technology tracks so well, you don’t have to stand up and flail around like a dope to play the game – seated play is actually recommended when you calibrate the controller.

Beyond the new waggle stuff, the Move control scheme actually improves gameplay in other areas too. Character movement was my main criticism of Heavy Rain back when I reviewed it earlier in the year, and while walking around is still clunky, subtle improvements have been made thanks to the Move. No longer do you have to hold down a button to initiate walking – you just move the analog stick around and your character moves like in any other game. Also, instead of using the analog stick to have your character turn their head, you point at the screen with the Move and the character looks in the aimed direction (only side to side of course; you can’t look up and down).

Quantic Dream clearly took the task of introducing Move motion controls to Heavy Rain very seriously, and it shows through in every aspect of the game’s design (or redesign I guess I should say). While I wouldn’t say that the Move has drastically altered Heavy Rain, it has changed and improved it enough to give returning players a fresh experience while simultaneously making the game more appealing to a broader audience, all without compromising the game’s original integrity. That’s a win-win for everyone in my book.

[nggallery id=1433]

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!