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

detroit20:

I'm not against replayability. As I said, my most played games are replayed multiple times. I have several final game saves going for Mass Effect 3 - I think I may have two saves of several classes.

My main thrust is that the point of replayability is to extend playtime, so it stands to reason that when attributing for it, we take total playtime as the last common pathway. You won't invest play time in a game you don't like, so replayability only matters if the game is something you like to begin with - that is the first metric that must be measured.

The second metric that must be measured, assuming that you love the core of the game, is overall time to "completion." A game like Vanquish has a short time to completion, but it's made to be a "score attack" type of game, so it's designed to be replayable as part of its core functions. (Ah - I replayed this once). A game like DAO lasted me over a hundred hours, so I didn't care as much that I didn't replay it to completion again.

Only after you've evaluated these metrics can you consider the question of replayability. If you like the game and it's too quick to complete with all content, then we have to see how replayable it is.

By itself, replayability or lack thereof should not decide the outcome of a purchase question.

detroit20 wrote:

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.

I don't think you are understanding what I mean. The lack of replayability can never be a minus. It can help add to a game that is too short, increasing the value of the game.

But in no way would I expect a game like LA Noire to have any replayability. So if they added something to make it fun to play again, that could be a plus. But if they just invested all of their resources in making the single player game a great game to play through once, that is okay, too.

The number of single player games I finish is so low that the option to play the them again is pretty much moot. As much as I loved Batman: AA, I didn't need to be able to play it again.

I just finished the Portal 2 single player game, and that just felt like a great experience. Now, it was short enough that it might have been worth waiting for the sales. But I don't need the game to be replayable, at all.

Jayhawker wrote:

The number of single player games I finish is so low that the option to play the them again is pretty much moot. As much as I loved Batman: AA, I didn't need to be able to play it again.

Don't all the player metrics any developer has show that the overwhelming majority of players—and I mean the hundreds of thousands of them, not a little group on a forum—are lucky to reach the second half of a game, and that most games are never finished at all?

I've never considered a film's "rewatchability", or a book's "rereadability", and I've happily rewatched and reread many books without the handwringing over whether they're worth it or not. Why do games get this special attention? (Rhetorical question, but I'll offer: because they're the main hobby of kids with lots of free time and little disposable income, who can dump hundreds of hours into the one game they can afford at the moment—or spend countless hours complaining about it on the Internet).

Gravey:

I'll offer an alternative explanation:

Some games are built on replayability. Super Mario Bros. (the first one) is still an entertaining play, decades down the line. Ditto for Pacman, Sudoku, Galaga, Double Dragon, and Vanquish. To quote someone who's sort of a big deal on the internet, "Sometimes you just want to shoot some dudes."

Starcraft 2 is the game that looms large for me right now as far as replayability is concerned. It's built from the ground up as a stage for multiplayer conflict, so its basis is that it's replayable. The single player campaign is almost a separate game unto itself.

I think that gaming media (and game reviewers in particular) have been successful in propagating a mistaken notion among gamers that this sort of replayability is always a factor in determining the worth of a game, even when it doesn't really apply to many game genres. For instance, very nearly no JRPG is replayable, because most of them are really, really long invariable narratives. Replaying them is a little like rereading War and Peace.

TLDR: It's the gaming media's fault.

LarryC, your TLDR summary nicely works for the Ben Abraham post I linked to, as well.

Also, I'm probably not actually the person with whom to discuss the merits or shortcomings of "replayability"—I replayed the first mission of Thief for a few years, and no other missions, and already declared it my most favouritest game of all time. And that wasn't even the demo, I owned the full game.

So I'm probably the only person that's going to look up reviews for Reader Rabbit, aren't I?

It's a travesty that Reader Rabbit wasn't even in contention. Worse, you probably shouldn't look up reviews for it. No gaming review outlet I know is fit to review a game like Reader Rabbit.

Gravey wrote:

I've never considered a film's "rewatchability", or a book's "rereadability", and I've happily rewatched and reread many books without the handwringing over whether they're worth it or not. Why do games get this special attention? (Rhetorical question, but I'll offer: because they're the main hobby of kids with lots of free time and little disposable income, who can dump hundreds of hours into the one game they can afford at the moment—or spend countless hours complaining about it on the Internet).

I think the reason why games get singled out for this is because 'repeat & retry' has been at the heart of the medium for so long. Granted this is changing as games, well, change. But - for most of gaming's history - whether or not a game is good enough to persuade you to deposit another 10 pence piece (showing all of my 40 years there), click 'retry', dust off an old cartridge, or buy the next installment of in the franchise has been a key factor in determining how good a game is... and, of course, how successful systems, developers and publishers were.

Of course, I recognise that I'm a bit of a dinosaur in this regard (I played Madden 96 for four years, and still bitterly regret throwing away my MegaDrive). As the industry does move to film model (open big in week 1, incorporate revenue-generating multiplayer and DLC opportunities, build a franchise, etc), replayability is probably going to become less and less important to the majority of game-makers and game-players.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

And what game today has no bugs and glitches?

Japanese games tend to be excellently polished and QA tested on average. Not perfect, but I just played Demon's Souls for the first time on Sunday and was amazed that animations felt fluid, hit detection felt right and there was no clear sign of clipping or enemies getting caught on geometry. Y'know, the sort of thing I've come to expect from American RPG developers that aren't Bioware.

wordsmythe wrote:
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.

I just want a video game that allows me to pretend I'm Tim Roth.

ccesarano wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

And what game today has no bugs and glitches?

Japanese games tend to be excellently polished and QA tested on average. Not perfect, but I just played Demon's Souls for the first time on Sunday and was amazed that animations felt fluid, hit detection felt right and there was no clear sign of clipping or enemies getting caught on geometry. Y'know, the sort of thing I've come to expect from American RPG developers that aren't Bioware.

Okay, fair point on the Japanese games, but are you really saying there's no clipping or getting caught on geometry in Bioware games? If that's your experience you are crazy lucky.

I think what he's saying is that clipping and getting caught in geometry is notoriously frequent in Bioware games.

LilCodger wrote:

So I'm probably the only person that's going to look up reviews for Reader Rabbit, aren't I?

Reading is essential.

LarryC wrote:

I think what he's saying is that clipping and getting caught in geometry is notoriously frequent in Bioware games.

In comparison with Bethesda games they're really not that bad, though it may also vary on platform.

I mean, honestly, as problematic as Bioware games tend to be, they're actually pretty good in Western game scale.

It's all relative, innit? I mean, the (Western-developed) Portal series is pretty polished; there are glitches, but you have to go pretty far out of your way to making anything super crazy happen. The Gears series and just about anything else by Epic look great and are super-polished. Alan Wake had a high degree of polish and that was European-developed. Most of the glitchiest / least polished Western games are in the open-world genre, where tradeoffs are almost expected to reach the level of breadth you want in that sort of game.

Meanwhile, the current-gen Sonic games have a reputation for being as broken as anything you'd see coming out of the West. The Team Ninja-developed Metroid game had a glitch that would bork your save game, one that couldn't be patched out due to the limitations of the Wii.

I think there are too many exceptions on both sides of the equation for generalities about the relative level of polish between Japanese and Western games to hold up to much scrutiny.

Your feeble examples are no match for the power of my confirmation bias.

hbi2k:

I think the impression is greatly reinforced on the side of Japanese companies because of Nintendo, which rarely, rarely releases seriously bugged games. I didn't even know that Metroid had a glitch that bad. This is the first I've heard of it.

A comparable company in the West would be Blizzard, which not only releases polished games, but is built on a reputation of active and aggressive patch support for their released games. It would have a larger impact on the overall Western gaming landscape if they released more than one game every few years.

Gravey wrote:

Your feeble examples are no match for the power of my confirmation bias.

Quick, someone tell me what's in my sig.

wordsmythe wrote:
Gravey wrote:

Your feeble examples are no match for the power of my confirmation bias.

Quick, someone tell me what's in my sig.

A hilarious witticism from a handsome goodjer! Also, a Star Wars line.

LarryC wrote:

hbi2k:

I think the impression is greatly reinforced on the side of Japanese companies because of Nintendo, which rarely, rarely releases seriously bugged games. I didn't even know that Metroid had a glitch that bad. This is the first I've heard of it.

A comparable company in the West would be Blizzard, which not only releases polished games, but is built on a reputation of active and aggressive patch support for their released games. It would have a larger impact on the overall Western gaming landscape if they released more than one game every few years.

And Twilight Princess also launched with a game breaking/ending bug that was only fixed by getting a replaced disk. If you saved right before getting the cannon to go to the sky city, the guy would dissapear, but the game would think he was still there. Come to think of it, I still have an original launch day disk.