May 16 - May 20

Let's be honest, there's really only one major game release to get particularly excited about this week, and that release is L.A. Noire. Yes, I know there is also one of those fancy RPGs making some waves in the hearts and minds of some gamers this week, and sure, it's always nice to see creative new fantasy content keep the PC gaming world moving forward. So I don't want to be too quick to dismiss that other game I know some of you care about: Fable III for the computer.

Also, some game about witches comes out. Weird.

Now that I've written my paragraph designed entirely to annoy Certis -- another check mark on the bucket list -- I will go ahead and concede that The Witcher 2 is definitely something worth paying some attention. Unfortunately, my heart was oddly impervious to the original, so the sequel is something I note with only passing interest and curiosity, like a bus full of penguins. However, on the grander point of supporting well-written stories that explore ethically gray consequences in a fully fleshed world, I am firmly in the approve column, which is why even though it's not a game I care personally about, I hope it proves a worthy successor.

As for L.A. Noire, I'm hoping for the kind of cinematically complicated sophistication that Rockstar has been able to achieve with both GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption. I am loathe to admit how much this developer has improved over the past few years, but at some point they seem to have learned the difference between creating games that were adult and creating games that were mature. With incredible voice talent, including Fringe's Emmy-deserving John Noble, a sense of incredible style and technology that seems to highly support detailed character acting, this has long been one of my most anticipated games of the year.

Here's hoping Rockstar hasn't picked now to let me down. Again.

PC
- Fable III
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Xbox 360
- L.A. Noire

PlayStation 3
- L.A. Noire

Wii
- ExerBeat
- Reader Rabbit: 1st Grade
- Reader Rabbit: 2nd Grade
- Reader Rabbit: Kindergarten
- Reader Rabbit: Preschool

Nintendo 3DS
- Spongebob Squigglepants 3D

Nintendo DS
- Cake Mania Main Street
- Murder in Venice

Coming Soon:

Red Faction: Armageddon -- May 31 -- 360, PS3, PC
Duke Nukem Forever -- June 14 -- 360, PS3, PC
Dungeon Siege II -- June 21 -- PC, 360, PS3

Comments

Oh, I don't know. RDR did pretty well, but I think GTAIV was still ultimately a failure in serving up a mature narrative. It tried: at first I felt like I wanted to be on the right side of the law, even obeying traffic lights, and only getting mixed up in things when I thought I had to. But at some point the game just seems to give up any pretence that you're being lured unwillingly into a life of crime and Nico just starts having a good old jolly time of it. Somewhere around the bank job I lost the little empathy I had left for the character and the ending was undoubtedly weaker as a result.

They'll have to do a lot more than that to impress me, but the things I've heard about LA Noire have sounded impressive to say the very least.

For some reason I can't get into The Witcher while I'm still playing WoW. I know the only thing the two games have in common is the use of swords to kill things with, but I'm just not feeling it. Wait for the first review to roll in, however, and I'll likely fold like a cheap suit.
...and while I'm at it, where's my PC LA Noire??

This was an easy decision for me. I still haven't finished The Witcher 1 yet (stupid bug won't let me beat it on my computer, and I get limited time on my wife's). She has no interest in TW2, but both of us are salivating for LA Noire.

crunchy wrote:

For some reason I can't get into The Witcher while I'm still playing WoW. I know the only thing the two games have in common is the use of swords to kill things with, but I'm just not feeling it. Wait for the first review to roll in, however, and I'll likely fold like a cheap suit.
...and while I'm at it, where's my PC LA Noire??

Not coming. Team Bondi has said they're only developing for consoles.

quamper wrote:

Terraria supposedly comes out today as well. A lot of hype for something thats only been in development for a few months and is releasing in a non finished state. But all that said, it still looks pretty amazing/fun.

I agree it looks cool, but seems like a Minecraft cash-in if I ever saw one. Hence the rushed development.

Holy crap, John Noble was born in Port Pirie? My dad was born there, it's not far from Adelaide, where I live. That's awesome.

From what I've read of L.A. Noire, it might actually be a good prototype for Lie to Me: The Video Game.

More than that, though, I just hope it's actually fun to play. I tried GTA4 and I've seen videos and screens of all the glitches in RDR. If there's one thing Rockstar is good at it is selling games that are absolute sh*t and making people happy to have indulged.

ccesarano wrote:

From what I've read of L.A. Noire, it might actually be a good prototype for Lie to Me: The Video Game.

More than that, though, I just hope it's actually fun to play. I tried GTA4 and I've seen videos and screens of all the glitches in RDR. If there's one thing Rockstar is good at it is selling games that are absolute sh*t and making people happy to have indulged.

I have never seen a bug in any Rockstar game and have enjoyed immensely the ones I have played.

ccesarano wrote:

I tried GTA4 and I've seen videos and screens of all the glitches in RDR. If there's one thing Rockstar is good at it is selling games that are absolute sh*t and making people happy to have indulged.

Good evening, I'm Alistair Cooke, and this is Hyperbole Theatre.

SurprisedMan wrote:

Oh, I don't know. RDR did pretty well, but I think GTAIV was still ultimately a failure in serving up a mature narrative. It tried: at first I felt like I wanted to be on the right side of the law, even obeying traffic lights, and only getting mixed up in things when I thought I had to. But at some point the game just seems to give up any pretence that you're being lured unwillingly into a life of crime and Nico just starts having a good old jolly time of it. Somewhere around the bank job I lost the little empathy I had left for the character and the ending was undoubtedly weaker as a result.

They'll have to do a lot more than that to impress me, but the things I've heard about LA Noire have sounded impressive to say the very least.

Yeah, RDR was definitely better. There was still polite exasperation as character #48 acts shockingly stupid/immoral/racist, but at least there was more of a defined story.

I tried to obey the law in GTA IV too at first, but eventually just started driving through the crowds on the sidewalk, since the cops rarely even cared. I was hoping the "dark side" ending would be something like The Godfather, but no such luck.

ccesarano wrote:

From what I've read of L.A. Noire, it might actually be a good prototype for Lie to Me: The Video Game.

More than that, though, I just hope it's actually fun to play. I tried GTA4 and I've seen videos and screens of all the glitches in RDR. If there's one thing Rockstar is good at it is selling games that are absolute sh*t and making people happy to have indulged.

Or, they sell games that don't appeal to you but others like. I hate any Rockstar game I've played, but I'm not pissing on the fun others have, as alien to me as it may be.

And what game today has no bugs and glitches?

Super Sudoku didn't seem to have any bugs or glitches I could see. Not that it would matter, since I could just get any of a bazillion Sudoku games on the net to replace it.

More directly, I'm more interested in The Witcher 2 more than LA Noire, but neither of them are really getting me wet. The Witcher was based on something of a timing game that sounded a lot like QTEs the whole game through. Didn't buy it at all. Tried it at a friend's place and it was just as bad as I thought it would be. New game has an honest to goodness action backbone for the combat. I'd have thought they'd make it primarily for consoles.

First, LA Noire. The review do seem a tad mixed at the moment, so I'll be holding off at least until they settle down and probably until the game's price drops (full priced games are difficult for me to justify to myself at the moment). Also, the likely limited replay value scares me somewhat. I had no desire to replay 'Heavy Rain' after my first playthrough, and this games core elements seem pretty similar.

In defence of Rockstar though, I regard the change in direction heralded by GTAIV (which, of course, made it clear that "this time, things will be different") as a work in progress. Red Dead Redemption was a clear progression from IV, and I expect that more lessons will have been learned and incorporated by Team Bondi into LA Noire.

I bought both The Witcher 2 and LA Noire, despite being about halfway through the first Witcher, and totally addicted to it. I won't have time to play them this week, but it's only money.

It's a strange world where a 91 Metacritic average with nothing scoring below 80 counts for 'Mixed' reviews, isn't it? Not that Metacritic is the be-all-and-end all, but it seems to me the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, but most of them acknowledge a couple of caveats.

The caveats mostly being "this is an adventure game. Aren't those things on the endangered species list?"

SurprisedMan wrote:

It's a strange world where a 91 Metacritic average with nothing scoring below 80 counts for 'Mixed' reviews, isn't it? Not that Metacritic is the be-all-and-end all, but it seems to me the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, but most of them acknowledge a couple of caveats.

Yeah, I don't really see that as mixed considering the lowest (English) review stands at 80. I buy games that have aggregates less than 80. Lol.

But perhaps the more important aspect is that the mixed reviews come in terms of there being a lack of replayability and $60 price point.

What's with the lack of replayability? According to some of the reviews I've read, you can find different evidence and send other people to jail replaying a case. Are they the right people? That's for the jury to decide.

Also, 17 cases. That means you're buying tickets to a 17 movie film noire marathon. $60 well spent by my math.

Is it just me, or are reviewers too busy to actually review games these days? The past few quicklooks I've seen have demonstrated that the guys aren't even reading the manuals, let alone investigating the intent of many of the games and are offering uninformed demonstrations as a result. I felt like they didn't like Brink because it was Brink and didn't play like TF2 or CoD.

ccesarano wrote:

From what I've read of L.A. Noire, it might actually be a good prototype for Lie to Me: The Video Game.

This is exactly why my wife looks forward to playing the game with me. She also sat with me through Heavy Rain. For this alone, I encourage more adventure mysteries.

gains wrote:

What's with the lack of replayability? According to some of the reviews I've read, you can find different evidence and send other people to jail replaying a case. Are they the right people? That's for the jury to decide.

I believe you only find different evidence in the sense you missed something the first time through. And the main plot doesn't change regardless of how you handle the cases. I believe that's what most mean when there's a lack of replayability as there isn't 5 different endings or whatever.

A mystery solved isn't as fun through the second time. For most.

gains wrote:

Is it just me, or are reviewers too busy to actually review games these days? The past few quicklooks I've seen have demonstrated that the guys aren't even reading the manuals, let alone investigating the intent of many of the games and are offering uninformed demonstrations as a result. I felt like they didn't like Brink because it was Brink and didn't play like TF2 or CoD.

It really depends on where you read your reviews. If you are going to IGN and gamespot, yeah, they suck. If you look for individuals you respect, then you will find good reviews. Try Gameshark, as Bill Abner is the editor there now, and he has the kind of standards you might expect.

I mentioned in another thread that I like getting GameInformer from GameStop, becasue I like reading the previews and just general game coverage. But I consider their reviews to just be previews with a little more access. I would never buy or disregard a game becasue of their reviews becasue they have no editorial integrity in respect to reviews.

But mostly, impressions from this forum, as well as discussion on the Conference Call and Jumping the Shark podcasts do me a lot more good than most reviews. If you need a day one reviews, you are generally doing it wrong. those reviews will almost always b the worst. either they don't review the game comprehensively, or they are getting early builds because they have shown the publishers they can be counted on to give a game a high score.

Right now, I have not read a single review of LA Noire, but I have a pretty good idea of what the game is, and what I will and won't like about it.

Yeah, it's always refreshing when Gameshark puts up a review a week or two after the game drops. Abner wants good reviews, not rushed reviews.

wordsmythe wrote:
I am loathe to admit how much this developer has improved over the past few years

"Blight on the industry."

I was thinking the same thing.

@garion333 and gains

My understanding is the same as yours, garion333. Replaying cases allows you to correct earlier errors, but the main narrative(s) remain unchanged and the game ploughs ahead regardless. Also, according to Eurogamer, replaying cases can be a bit of a chore as certain scenes are unskippable.

I take your point about the number of cases, gains. 17 (or 21, or whatever) represents a fair amount for the player to get their teeth into. However, the quality will need to be there too. To use your film analogy, will the film noir marathon be of 'Double Indemnity' quality throughout, or will there be a stack of 'The Killer That Stalked New York' in the middle?

But for me, replayability is the key issue here, and none of the reviews I seen have suggested that it has much of this. That's a red flag for me as far as full price purchase is concerned.

detroit20:

Here's a question:

How many of your latest game purchases have you replayed, and how many hours did they add to your play time?

For me, the answer is 2 of 4 - I replayed Mass Effect 2 and DA2 exhaustively, but didn't even finish either DS2 or Crysis2. I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of other games on the pile. I like getting a bunch of replay value for my games, but having the games be something I like enough to actually finish is a prerequisite. It does me no good to have a replayable game that I don't want to play.

LarryC wrote:

It does me no good to have a replayable game that I don't want to play.

That's a really good point. There really shouldn't be a disconnect between singleplayer and multiplayer games in this regard, I play the same old maps in the same old multiplayer games because I enjoy the core gameplay, and it's a similar thing for a singleplayer game. I know exactly what's going to happen most of the time, but I enjoy the experience of playing even with the story having a lesser impact.

The flip side to that is playing something because you feel you have to and not enjoying it, in which case you might as well watch the ending on youtube.

I think replayability can be a very positive plus for a game. I don't think it can be a minus.

Jayhawker wrote:

I think replayability can be a very positive plus for a game. I don't think it can be a minus.

Absolutely, but if you're doing it despite not enjoying the experience, then something is out of balance.

Jayhawker wrote:

I think replayability can be a very positive plus for a game. I don't think it can be a minus.

What if you have a really big pile and limited time, and one super fun, replayable, game monopolized your available gaming schedule. What then, sir?

@LarryC

That's a very good question, and one that prompted to me to dig out the 2010/2011 purchases. I can't tell you the hours, but I can tell you that:

Both RDR and Uncharted 2 got one replay.
Heavy Rain, CoD Black Ops and CoD World at War each got only one playthrough (but put a lot of time into BlOps multiplayer)
Mass Effect 2 also got one play, but that was after the save glitch that delete my first 30 hour effort.
Dead Space 1 is a DNF sadly.

Interestingly though I've replayed Modern Warfare twice in the last two months and Modern Warfare 2 once in the same period.

Like Scratched, I think your main point is a good one. If a game isn't compelling the first time around, it's hardly likely to get better with age.

However, Jayhawker is also spot on. Replayability is never a minus, and should always be a viable option. Once developers start designing replayability out - either through the choice of core gameplay or through the narrative form (detective story) - then I feel like they're removing some of the value of the game for me. At that point, the price is an issue.

Also my impression from a glance at the reviews isn't that there's a particular lack of replayability. In fact, from what some people are saying, about how cases can go differently depending on what evidence you spot and how you choose to conduct the case, that would imply I'd definitely want to go back and see how things might have worked out differently.

Then again, I've no problem buying and playing games that have very little replayability. Portal, Braid, Grim Fandango, Monkey Island 2... all these rank among some of my favourite games of all time, but on paper their replayability is close to zero. It's really not a consideration when I make a purchase.

True, on the face of it it seems replayability is never a minus, but it's not automatically a plus, either. Would Grim Fandango have been a better game with multiple ending and randomised events and multiple puzzle solutions? Maybe, but not undoubtedly, and there's perhaps an argument to be made that some forms of replayability that might weaken whatever statement the game is trying to make, narratively or whatever else.