Archive for May, 2011


L.A. Noire is finally here after many years (and E3 appearances).  So how did Rockstar Games and Team Bondi do?  It a nutshell not a bad job, but here is a review.

Cole Phelps, badge Twelve-Forty Seven

L.A. Noire is the latest Rockstar release and it drops the player into a turbulent 1947 Los Angeles setting with control over the main protagonist Cole Phelps.  Cole Phelps isn’t your ordinary officer, but more so a prodigy of the LAPD.  Cole Phelps has just returned from fighting the Japanese in WW2 and is looking to work his way up through the ranks of the LAPD and will do so over the course of the game.  As Phelps you will move up through 5 different desks in the LAPD; those being Beat, Traffic, Homicide, Vice and then finally Arson.  For each stretch of your journey you will also have a different accompanying partner to guide you through to your next promotion (or he will tell you when to turn left if you ask him nicely).

1940s Los Angeles was a violent time and this violence and social unrest is depicted in great detail in L.A. Noire.  As Phelps you will be tasked with solving a bevy of cases and you must use your investigative and interrogation skills to rain justice down upon the perpetrators who wish to disrupt peace.  Now that you have a solid grasp on what L.A. Noire brings to the table time for some Pros and Cons.

Pros

  • The story in L.A. Noire is definitely top notch.  Excellent writing and voice acting brings the game to life and immerses the player unlike many games before it.
  • Shootouts and chase scenes are here and add just enough action elements to balance out the more focused sections of the game.  Cover system for shootouts works well too.
  • The game offers up a large detailed world for the player to navigate.  Famous landmarks are scattered across the city, which not only adds to the detail, but also gives the player incentive to explore.
  • The facial detail in this game is really second to none.  The motion scanning technology used for this game really adds another dimension to gaming because it is incorporated into the game beyond cut scenes.  Seeing every facial mannerism depicted in interrogations and regular dialogue creates a visual experience that every gamer should experience.
  • When you get the chance to interrogate a suspect it is really a treat because you have the opportunity to see actual emotion displayed on the faces and it elevates the level of suspense to a whole other level.  Every suspect’s face will tell you whether or not he or she are telling the truth, bending the truth, or straight up lying to you.  The interrogations are a core part of this experience and it is done fantastically.
  • Some cases have multiple outcomes so replaying them offers the player a chance to see a different conclusion to a case they have already completed.
  • Beyond the cases there are Street Crimes to solve; film reels, hidden vehicles, and landmarks to discover.  These additional objectives add another layer of depth to a game that would have normally been strictly linear in its progression.
  • Flashback scenes show Phelps’s experiences in the Marines and the War.  These additional story elements add depth of character to Cole and also explain other events happening in the game.

Cons

  • Replaying cases on the Xbox 360 version has you swapping discs often and while its not a huge deal to me, it will bother some.
  • I haven’t played the Playstation 3 version of the game, but the Xbox 360 version has a few graphical issues such as texture popping, disappearing vehicles (it has happened to me on 10 different occasions), and at times some really bad collision detection.  Framerate will drop occasionally during gun fights and chase sequences.
  • The city is large and detailed, but exploring it does take a considerable amount of time.  So driving will become monotonous quickly if you don’t enjoy the scenery (this can be avoided if you have your partner drive, but I’m pretty sure mileage will not accrue and you will miss landmarks).
  • The city is broken up into separate police precincts, but you will get dispatch calls from stations other than the one you are currently operating out of which will usually send you on a lengthy journey.  You don’t have to take these calls, but if you choose to, a call that’s in closer proximity to where you are working would be appreciated.
  • Car chases within cases usually lead to vehicle damage and property damage, which in most cases will hurt your final report after a case ends.  Could mean the difference between getting a 4 and 5 star rating.
  • A very limited HUD offers a more cinematic engagement for the player, but will make gauging ammunition and health damage hard for some in shootouts and the occasional brawl.
  • Pedestrians like to run at your vehicle when your sirens are on and they just create additional obstacles that prove annoying during car chases.
  • Investigating crime scenes should be something fun, but it is very rudimentary in design and gets boring quickly.  Also the amount of useless objects you can pick up at most scenes diverts from what could be a more streamlined investigation.
  • The story while good, can feel disconnected at times (Like Cole’s wife and how she is almost unmentioned throughout the whole game, but is implemented in a fairly large way and becomes the reason for a desk transition???).

Team Bondi and Rockstar have done many things right with L.A. Noire, but have come up short with others.  The game does offer a great experience and the interrogation sequences are fantastic, but the drama and how cases play out feel recycled at times.  After a few cases you come to expect the same sequence of events.  You show up at a crime scene, find a few pivotal clues, chase someone through some back alley, and ask them a few questions, and then you move onto something else.  Had this sequence been mixed up a little bit it would have made moving from case to case a bit more exciting.

Don't lie to ME!!!!!

I don’t want to sound like I don’t enjoy L.A. Noire a great deal, because that couldn’t be anymore false, but a few design issues held this game back from being perfect.  I probably won’t play a game like L.A. Noire for quite sometime and everything I didn’t like about the game was outweighed by an overall solid experience and something you should experience.

Metrics

Presentation – 8/10 – Easy to use interface and main menu is slick and stylish.  But the limited HUD will bother some.

Gameplay – 8/10 – The overall mechanics of the game work well most of the time, but some inconsistencies create the occasional annoyance.

Graphics – 8/10 – The characters display amazing facial detail and the city of Los Angeles circa 1947 is depicted very accurately, but graphical glitches and framerate issues can tarnish the experience at times.

Sound – 10/10 – Top-notch voice work and soundtrack really fills out the experience.

Down the Road – 7/10 – L.A. Noire will clock in around 20 hours for most if you choose to do everything, but if you have no interest in replaying cases or doing the side stuff you will be done until DLC arrives.

Overall – 8/10

Recommended Buy Price

Full Price if you have been waiting for the game

$30 – $40 if you want to check it out, but don’t want to pay full price

$10 – $20 if you saw someone play it and were like “that looks ok I’ll buy it in a year”

As always comment on what you think about the game or what you think of this review.  I always appreciate feedback.  Oh, and you can also follow me on Twitter @GamersAbstract and on Facebook.  Until next time…

I purchased L.A. Noire for $60 for the Xbox 360.  I have invested 17 hours into the game and have completed 67% of the game.

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Gamefly Sale through May 30th

Posted: May 24, 2011 by Tim Utley in Video Game Deals
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Gamefly is running yet another sale and will end promptly on May 3oth.  Their sales usually consist of some decent stuff so head over to Gamefly’s website and see if there is anything you were looking to pick up on the cheap.  You can get to the Gamefly site from here.  Happy shopping.

*(I didn’t post any particular deals because they tend to go quick, so if you are interested check out what is left)

I have my own T-shirt!!!!!

Posted: May 23, 2011 by Tim Utley in Cool Shit, Editorials
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This is has been in the pipeline for awhile now, but my good friends over at The Cold Car Demise have whipped me up a shirt that I am not only wearing right now, but am very pleased with (quite comfy too).  Check out the pics below.

Front

Back

The guys and gals over at The Cold Car Demise are really doing some great stuff and you definitely need to check them out.  You can follow them on Twitter @TColdCarDemise and on Facebook.  They also have a Tumblr too, so be sure to check them out and support them.  We are all small fish in a big pond and all of your support really means a lot to us.

Weekly Roundup 5/15/2011

Posted: May 15, 2011 by Tim Utley in Weekly Roundup
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Sorry that I haven’t been doing these like I said I would.  It’s not that I haven’t read anything interesting it just comes down to time constraints.  So this week I have had some extra time so I am spending it sending some good stuff your way.  Without further adieu check out some stuff I found interesting this week.

8 Bit Shadow of the Colossus

This little bit on Kotaku was very cool.  The artist has some original Game Boy mock ups of what Shadow of the Colossus would look like on the classic platform.  So definitely check this out as it won’t consume much of your time at all.

Square Enix is Hurting

This article was something that I saw coming, but I decided to share it regardless.  This article touches upon how mega Japanese Publisher/Developer Square Enix isn’t performing to the standards that they have been accustomed to for many years.  The article also touches upon how Western Developers/Publishers are gaining ground in the industry.  If you are interested in the business side of gaming check this one out.

FEAR 3’s New Multiplayer Mode

This new mode in FEAR 3 is pretty self explanatory because it is being called “Fucking Run”.  Check it out, it is nice to see fresh ideas in multiplayer gaming these days.

Alright folks that is it for this week.  I want to do this every week, but If I can’t I apologize in advance and as always you can follow me on Twitter @GamersAbstract and on Facebook.

My First Podcast

Posted: May 11, 2011 by Tim Utley in Cool Shit, Editorials
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My friend Mike over at My Rotting Brain requested my expertise (if you want to call it that) for some final thoughts on his review of The Wizard he did last week on his site.  This was my first podcast and hopefully I get to do more in the future because I really enjoyed doing it.  If you like nostalgic video game movies and or just The Wizard check it out, you will enjoy it.

You can visit my friend Mike’s site over at www.myrottingbrain.com and you can follow him on Twitter @MyRottingBrain and he also has a Tumblr page so look him up.

Now to access the podcast for your listening pleasure you can go about scoring it one of two ways.  You can get it from this link http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/my-rotting-brain/id423023100 or you can go into the iTunes store and search for My Rotting Brain (the second option is the preferred way of getting it and offers the best quality).

I hope I get to podcast again soon and I hope you enjoy this podcast we did for you.  So stay tuned for more.


This is the first time, but hopefully not the last time I run a contest, because contests are fun and give people something to do to kill time.  I am giving away a code to one lucky winner for the Gears of War 3 Beta that is running until the end of this week.  This could be your last chance to get in on some GOW goodness before the title launches this September, but anyways lets move on to what you have to do in order to win this code (the rules if you will).

Basic Rules for entry

  1. You must comment on this article by the end of today (topic of my choosing)
  2. In your post you must give me some form of contact info so I can send you the code (email address or Twitter user name so I can send you a DM)
  3. I will send the code out tonight after I have decided on a winner.

Now here is what the contest is all about.  When you post your comment I want you to write in about a paragraph why you love videogames and what your favorite videogame is.  I am looking for creativity and passion here people so bleed videogames for me.  I look forward to seeing something amazing later on today and into the night.  I thank all who participate in advance and one of you will receive a beta code tonight.  Let your creative juices flow now.

PSN has a Return Date

Posted: May 10, 2011 by Tim Utley in News and Updates
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Its coming coming, back back, to Online Online

The PSN has been down since April 20th due to a “data breach” and has caused distress amongst the gaming community.  Also according to a Bloomberg report I read it has cost Capcom hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue (I am sure they are not the only ones losing out).  But there is light at the end of the tunnel people (it will just take a few weeks to reach it).

Sony has announced that all PSN and Qriocity services will be fully functional by May 31st.  This comes as good news to all even including myself who had previously said I didn’t care (which I still don’t, but would like to try out MK online).  This blackout has been pretty bad for those who had purchased games like Socom 4 day one and maybe had 24 hours to enjoy it before the servers went down.  Also PS3 DCU Online players have missed out on some valuable playing time (and when you are paying a subscription fee it stings even worse).  Things haven’t been great this month or last for Sony, but time has healed their digitally insecure wounds.

You get this free for a month

This has been low point for Sony, but all major players have their mishaps (Microsoft and the RROD, Nintendo and The Virtual Boy).  Also as a part of their “Welcome Back” program they are awarding a free month of Playstation Plus to all PSN users including those who already subscribe to the premium service.  Sony will recover and continue to deliver quality products, but one can only hope this incident doesn’t deter people from purchasing future Sony products.  This will go annals of videogame history as a major blunder, but Sony has the resources to leave this in their rear view and will hopefully do so.


Even with the 3DS performing solidly and “Wii 2” rumors running amuck Nintendo is still avidly marketing the original Wii.  Nintendo has dropped the price of the Wii to $149.99 and is in the process of releasing a budget lineup of their first party titles under the brand “Nintendo Selects”.  The new name is a slight deviation from the “Player’s Choice” titles we are usually accustomed too, but nonetheless they will offer a great value on some games that were in desperate need of a price drop (Sorry, Twilight Princess is a great game, but after almost 5 years and its still $50, kind of absurd).  The initial four titles in the Nintendo Selects collection are Animal Crossing: City Folk, Mario Super Sluggers, Wii Sports (available for the first time outside of buying a Wii or used copy), and lastly Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  These titles will all have a MSRP of $19.99.  Nintendo is also making a new software bundle package with Mario Kart Wii in it.These new price incentives will surely invoke some purchasing opportunities for those who still don’t own a Wii and at the price of both the system and the new budget titles you really can’t pass it up.  Hats off to Nintendo for this and look for these price drops to be done throughout May.  Stay tuned for more news and as always you can follow me on Twitter @GamersAbstract and on Facebook.


One of the reason’s brick and mortar rental shops have gone extinct is because of the little grocery store pit stop known as Redbox.  Redbox has been renting videogames in select markets since 2009, but recently have decided to expand their operations nationwide.  This is a substantial increase from 5,000 kiosk units to 21,000 kiosk units that will offer videogame rentals.  The newly upgraded Redbox kiosks will carry Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii software ranging from family friendly titles to more mature titles.

The Redbox overhaul will be complete on June 17th and a game rental will only set you back $2 a day.  They might not have the most up-to-date selection like Gamefly, but this is still a viable renting option for those who want to try before they buy.  So keep your eyes open when you go grocery shopping or are meandering around Wal-Mart come mid-June for what Redbox has to rent.  Stay tuned for more and as always you can follow me on Twitter @GamersAbstract and on Facebook.

Amazon Video Game DOTD 5/1/2011

Posted: May 1, 2011 by Tim Utley in Video Game Deals
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Today’s deal on Amazon is perhaps one of the best ones that has been done in quite awhile.  For those of you who waited on Portal 2 because you maybe were running low on funds or were perhaps inundated with a huge back log of games to play (like me) I would cease to wait and act today.  Portal 2 is on sale for Xbox 360 and PC (PS3 was surprisingly either sold out or just not available).  The Xbox 360 version is $34.99 and the PC version is $29.99.  This deal beats the sale Gamestop is currently running, but it is only for today (GS one runs all week I believe).  Portal 2 is already ranking up as one of my favorite games so I can’t stress enough to go out and buy it for this perfect sale price.  You can get to the deals page from here.  Happy shopping and stay tuned for more deals.