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PS3 motion control and Heavy Rain: a match made in Valhalla?


We’ve been hearing more about ‘Gem’/’Arc’, or whatever they end up calling it, over the last few months. It’s going to be a wand-like motion controller for PS3, and it’s going to be… well, it’s going to be a motion controller. That’s all we really know. You can shoot orcs with a bow and arrow using it. We’re as much in the dark as you are. But aside from a couple of tech demos, what it probably looks like and some rumoured names, what do we need it for?

Well, there are many arguments on the side of “we don’t need it”, and I can see why. It feels a bit like a me-too move on Sony’s part and – as sixaxis showed – people just aren’t that interested in mo-con in the first place. The popularity of Wii argues against this, mind you, but of the installed user base of PS3 it’s hard to think that a high percentage of them would be interested in virtual babysitting games and knitting simulators taking full advantage of motion controls.It would need to offer something different, and something special.

Something like Heavy Rain could show us how and why GemArc could be a Very Good Thing. If the controls work as accurately as we’re being made to think they will and were implemented correctly, Heavy Rain could take an even bigger sidestep away from what we expect from a game. All throughout my play-through it was painfully evident that I was still using a pad: this dragged me out of the immersion on numerous occassions and, while not ruining it, certainly hampered some enjoyment of the game for me. A more immersive, less intrusive control mechanic would do nothing but help the game, as well as opening it up to a far wider audience. People are still put off by having to use a pad to play things, after all, and body movements are far easier to pull off by everyone than fast-paced button presses on a pad you might not be familiar with (though if you’re not familiar with the 15-year-old face button configuration of the PlayStation pad then you’ve clearly been living under a rock in the centre of the earth. With your front door locked. And your phone unplugged).

But that raises an issue to counter the positivity about GArc: for it to be truly special, most – if not all – games released on it would have to be something really significant. Otherwise it may well just die a death with little fanfare and a mild whimper.

We live in hope.

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