GWJ Conference Call Episode 241

Conference Call

LA Noire, The Witcher 2, Fancy Pants Adventures, Twitter Questions, Voicemails, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Julian, Cory, Rob Zacny and Allen talk LA Noire, The Witcher 2 and plenty of your emails and Twitter questions!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

Sponsor

CastMedium
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

The Witcher 2
LA Noire
The Fancy Pants Adventures

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

L.A. Noire - Main theme - http://www.rockstargames.com/lanoire/ - 0:38:28

Comments

Rob Zacny wrote:

You do a lot of searching crime scenes and suspects' homes for clues. There are also many car chases, foot chases, and shootouts.

But it's telling that almost all that other stuff is optional.

The main plot missions (cases) contain all of that stuff you listed - searching for clues, foot and car chases, and shootouts - none of which are optional. Sure, the street crimes (side missions) also contain chases and shootouts, but again, so do the mandatory plot missions. Your statement is misleading.

Further, I completely disagree with your accusation that the interrogations are "broken." Flawed? Sure, but broken? Nope. If the game just gave you a "failed" screen and made you restart the interrogation (or worse, the whole case) when you got a question wrong, then that would be broken IMO. But from what I've played (currently on the final Vice case), I bet you could continue to progress and solve every case even if you got most or all of the interrogation questions wrong.

Like you, I had frustrations early on when I was getting half or more of the interrogations wrong, but as with any new game mechanic that you've never played before, you figure it out and it works. It's fine to be critical, but I feel that you're being overly critical about a game that brings new, fresh aspects to the table, and for the most part, succeeded at what it was trying to do.

To end on a positive note, I do fully agree with one thing you said:

Rob Zacny wrote:

It's definitely worth playing

The show file had some missing sound, I've uploaded a new file if you want to hear that voicemail.

Demiurge wrote:
HedgeWizard wrote:
Demiurge wrote:
HedgeWizard wrote:
Demiurge wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

I was just referring to all the comments between Rob and Cory that you could take out of context, loop with a drum machine and some techno and make a really, really gay dance track. It'd be glorious.

What we have is special.

True. What we're really missing though, is an oil on canvas painting of you on his lap recording the podcast.

First person to make this happen gets an Internet cookie.

If it was actually good, I would pay $100 for it and put it in my study.

I believe this. It frightens me, but I believe it.

You should. 'cause it's true.

Good show. Learn to pronounce Mario.

(It's maa-ree-oh).

After Certis' ennui last week it's so refreshing to hear him damn-near giddy over the Witcher, it's especially nice because I agree totally.

To comment on the old-skool difficulty and design of the game. There was a comment in the Catch-All that the game is badly designed, especially when considering one particular boss which people have considered cheap.

I disagree that it's bad design, it's in fact very carefully designed. As I said in the Catch-All, CDPR have given the player a whole toybox to use and have made decisions to force the player to explore the various toys. If you are failing badly constantly you aren't doing the right thing badly, you are doing the wrong thing. With the boss in question I just turned the difficulty down for the fight, but almost immediately after I'd gotten through someone else came into the thread with the 'correct' solution. Next time I play I will try that solution.

Now, if someone says they don't like this decision I will respect their opinion, but if someone says it's bad like it's some objective standard I will disagree vociferously. I like a hand-holding rollercoaster as much as the next guy, but I don't expect or desire every game to be like that.

It's interesting to contrast this game with Mass Effect 2. A common complaint with that game is that the combat is boring, and on Normal that's absolutely true. You can pistol your way through that whole game as any class on Normal, there's no incentive to explore the game mechanics, so unless you go out of your way to do that it's definitely boring. Switch it to Hardcore though and play one of the more interesting classes and the game comes alive.

The Witcher 2 on Normal is like Mass Effect 2 on Hardcore, you have to explore the options the game gives you. If you keep running into a wall, like Tycho did 47 times, rather take two steps to the left and go through the door.

MeatMan wrote:
Rob Zacny wrote:

You do a lot of searching crime scenes and suspects' homes for clues. There are also many car chases, foot chases, and shootouts.

But it's telling that almost all that other stuff is optional.

The main plot missions (cases) contain all of that stuff you listed - searching for clues, foot and car chases, and shootouts - none of which are optional. Sure, the street crimes (side missions) also contain chases and shootouts, but again, so do the mandatory plot missions. Your statement is misleading.

Right there, in gameplay options, "action skip." You don't have to complete these sequences. And most of the chasing and shooting in the game is optional. I'm not being misleading so much as you're being disingenuous.

Further, I completely disagree with your accusation that the interrogations are "broken." Flawed? Sure, but broken? Nope. If the game just gave you a "failed" screen and made you restart the interrogation (or worse, the whole case) when you got a question wrong, then that would be broken IMO. But from what I've played (currently on the final Vice case), I bet you could continue to progress and solve every case even if you got most or all of the interrogation questions wrong.

As defenses go, "It's not broken, I'd call it flawed," is far from rousing. No, the game doesn't cause you to fail an investigation, but it uses narrative brute force to ignore bad interrogation results. Sometimes Phelps just seems to know something in a scene without you having any clue how he learned that.

Whether or not the game hits a fail state because of its poor interrogation mechanics isn't really the issue. Do the interrogations make sense within the fiction of the game? No. Do they present you with a clear choice of responses? No. Does your character respond in a way consistent with your selection? No.

It's fine to be critical, but I feel that you're being overly critical about a game that brings new, fresh aspects to the table, and for the most part, succeeded at what it was trying to do.

It was trying to be an edgier Dragnet with an ill-conceived and poorly executed questioning mechanic? Then maybe I am being too harsh, because L.A. Noire nails that.

And let's not get too carried away with how innovative this game is. Branching dialogue with in-game consequences is not exactly unheard of. You ever play the Blade Runner adventure game?

Now I am getting too negative, probably because I hate the attitude that we are somehow under an obligation to forgive bad design simply because of its novelty, or to support a game because it's trying something different. That's not enough. It's one thing to decide for yourself that you like what a game is doing, and you appreciate what makes it unique. But it's not a moral imperative for the rest of us.

I will close by saying that I have not offered an opinion on the game as a whole. My piece this week was solely interested in analyzing the most unique aspect of the game and why it is so hard to use, and why it is ultimately an unsatisfying method for handling these situations. It's a big failure for L.A. Noire, but taking apart the interrogations is not the same as taking apart the game.

Australia + internet caps =

It is pretty bad down here, but realistically, we've never had it any other way so it's just a fact of life.

I am currently on a fairly generous cap by comparison to others.

Base package, ADSL2, was 30GB peak (8am-2am), 30GB off peak (2am-8am) per month. That includes both uploads and downloads in that amount.

I bundled my land line with this deal, and got a 'loyalty' bonus upgrade to 100GB Peak, and 100GB off peak.

Microsoft has also teamed up with these guys, and anything downloaded from the XBL marketplace is classified as unmetered (ie doesn't come off the 200GB cap) and the ISP has just partnered with Steam to come up with the same unmettered arrangement.

There are caveats, and I'm sure when we get streaming media on the service in a big way it will not be excluded, but for now at least I don't care too much about 1GB DLC or demos as much.

I don't think this was addressed, and maybe because it's not the case, but is there any kind of uncanny valley creepiness going on in LA Noire? When I look at the videos I find myself both impressed and underwhelmed by the faces--it's almost as if they capture detail so well that looks more like a poor quality film than a really good looking video game. But maybe that's just the quality of the YouTube videos. Somehow I prefer the hand-animated faces of Uncharted.

Yeh, a 20gig cap between 5 internet-devourers means L4D and its sequel have been sitting on my Steam list for years without ever being played.

Re: LA Noire, my wife is much better at reading faces/expressions than I am IRL, and she's absolutely sick at the game. I'm pretty good, but I miss my fair share of questions, still. But it's ok, the game is structured like Heavy Rain, in that there's a momentum moving the case forward that you can impede with failure, but not stop. As someone who's not traditionally a "good" gamer, I appreciate not running into showstopping puzzles.

Dyni wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Witcher 2 stuffz

Did you not hear that the developers cited Demon's Souls as an influence for the new combat system? I figured that alone might have sold you on the game

I'm anxious to dive into The Witcher 2. New PC will be up and running soon.

Nope, totally missed that. I tried not to pay too much attention to the buildup to the game's release as I didn't want to burn out on it beforehand. Glad to hear that devs are taking lessons from Demon's Souls as they totally should. I'm all for more tactical combat. All for it.

So, the question now is: Are people complaining about the difficulty of the fights because they didn't realize they were actually playing The Witcher 2: Demon's Souls Lite?

garion333 wrote:

So, the question now is: Are people complaining about the difficulty of the fights because they didn't realize they were actually playing The Witcher 2: Demon's Souls Lite?

Probably.

Rift feels like a WoW mod. Despite the neat class mechanics, I was bored within the first hour.

What's this about having fun with Mortal Kombat "despite the boobage?" Despite? Since when are female breasts not fun? Dad always told me they were.

I would be fine if more RPG characters sounded like they were from California. "Dude, this quest is bogus. Let's go get some tacos."

I was on the fence about The Witcher 2, but Shawn sold me on it. My new Radeon 6850 needs some fresh meat.

And on today's episode, we found out that at least one guy still says "peace out." Fascinating.

I would be totally fine if people stopped using abbreviations like IMHO, IIRC and IOW.

burntham77 wrote:

Rift feels like a WoW mod. Despite the neat class mechanics, I was bored within the first hour.

What's this about having fun with Mortal Kombat "despite the boobage?" Despite? Since when are female breasts not fun? Dad always told me they were.

I would be fine if more RPG characters sounded like they were from California. "Dude, this quest is bogus. Let's go get some tacos."

I was on the fence about The Witcher 2, but Shawn sold me on it. My new Radeon 6850 needs some fresh meat.

And on today's episode, we found out that at least one guy still says "peace out." Fascinating.

I would be totally fine if people stopped using abbreviations like IMHO, IIRC and IOW.

You are full of judgment and spite. Well done.

Re: Breasts in Mortal Kombat, it's important to note that absolutely no part of this game is sexy. The breasts are done in a comic book / 13-year-old imagination of what breasts are like kind of way. It's a fantastic fighting game, but it's not Lynda Carter for the new millennium.

I'd just like to note, you do not play every playable character in the storyline single player of Mortal Kombat. You play most of the "good" characters, but you never play as Quan Chi, Sheeva, Baraka, Shang Tsung, Noob Saibot, Mileena, Ermac, or Sindel. And of course you never play as Kratos in the single player either.

Morrowind doesn't make it onto the list of games with immersive environments? Pity.

bnpederson wrote:

I'd just like to note, you do not play every playable character in the storyline single player of Mortal Kombat. You play most of the "good" characters, but you never play as Quan Chi, Sheeva, Baraka, Shang Tsung, Noob Saibot, Mileena, Ermac, or Sindel. And of course you never play as Kratos in the single player either.

All of those characters are stupid, though. Especially Noob, that cheater.

Demiurge wrote:

You are full of judgment and spite. Well done.

I blame marriage.

Demiurge wrote:

Re: Breasts in Mortal Kombat, it's important to note that absolutely no part of this game is sexy. The breasts are done in a comic book / 13-year-old imagination of what breasts are like kind of way. It's a fantastic fighting game, but it's not Lynda Carter for the new millennium.

Now you have me thinking about a Wonder Woman game. That's a good idea.

burntham77 wrote:
Demiurge wrote:

You are full of judgment and spite. Well done.

I blame marriage.

Demiurge wrote:

Re: Breasts in Mortal Kombat, it's important to note that absolutely no part of this game is sexy. The breasts are done in a comic book / 13-year-old imagination of what breasts are like kind of way. It's a fantastic fighting game, but it's not Lynda Carter for the new millennium.

Now you have me thinking about a Wonder Woman game. That's a good idea.

DC vs Mortal Kombat over here stat!

It amazes me how much I love LA Noire but just how bad so many of the mechanics are.

Really interesting conversations in the listener email section. Especially enjoyed your takes on the whole substitution bit. As for distribution on consoles, unless they make the hard drives less expensive and easy to replace I just don't see it happening unless gaming moves to streaming to hardware. Personally, I still have hope for a Steam machine.

I do a lot of research to purchase my games day one. I tend to play the odds because I enjoy physical bundles that includes maps and such and I don't get burned 90% of the time. Typically for me to pre-order a game I'll familiarize myself with the developer, find out the timeline in which its made, and then immerse myself in news site previews and reviews. I have brand loyalty towards Bioware but I did not purchase DragonAge 2 for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the short development time. I always buy Elder Scrolls games for the PC because of the mod community even though Bethesda doesn't want us to play their DLC.

At the same time, I've become familiar with half a dozen reviewers so I can determine where I stand versus theirs. An example is Justin McElroy from Joystiq in that I disagree with him on almost every game but I understand the points he likes about the games. Kat Bailey at GamePro tends to provide the information on JRPG's I need to determine if I will enjoy them. There's a lot more podcasts and reviewers I'll listen to on stuff too, those are just some examples. I do skip reviews that tell you too much about the game. For instance I love Giant Bomb but I do not read their reviews because they go through too much detail.

Krynn all the way baby!