Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011: The Year of 3s

2011 has been a great year for gaming; it's also a year with an odd convergence across many different franchises and platforms. A ridiculous number of games released just over the past few months either had the number 3 in their title, or were the third of their kind. It began with Resistance 3 a few months ago, followed by Gears of War 3 shortly thereafter. There was a short gap and then it was a bedlam of tris with Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Saint's Row: The Third, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, and there were probably a few more that are slipping my mind.
While most of these games are wildly different thematically, most of them shared a common tone. A lot of them carried their storylines with a heavy weight as they were trying to wrap up a trilogy in a big way that gamers will remember for years to come. The majority of them played it very serious, with the exception being Saint's Row, which was decidedly not serious and just went for over-the-top fun; which helped it stand out as being refreshing after so many games hitting the player with heavy, emotional beats.
And when you think about it, even some games that didn't have 3 in their title still fit this trend; Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the third game starring Ezio Auditore. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, while obviously being the 5th game in the franchise, is the third ES game released on consoles. Later this year we'll see Star Wars: The Old Republic, which sounds like a new franchise but is actually the third game set in The Old Republic timeframe. If only Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock: Infinite(the 3rd Bioshock game) had made it out this holiday season heads would've exploded!

Monday, April 25, 2011

L.A. Noire: Prophesied

When Rockstar Games talks, the gaming world listens. And with good reason; this is a developer that's created and cultivated some of the most ambitious and successful games and franchises in the last ten years. Grand Theft Auto was a phenomenon during the PS2 era and Grand Theft Auto IV was a mega-hit for the current generation of game consoles. Then there was Red Dead Redemption, a re-invigoration of one of Rockstar's older franchises that took the GTA formula in a whole new direction. It won a multitude of Game of the Year awards, changed the way people think about open-world games, and is regarded by many as a modern classic.

And now, in less than a month, Rockstar and developer Team Bondi will be releasing their next game, L.A. Noire. This marks the beginning of a brand new franchise for the heavy-hitting developer/publisher and it seems to be following the design tenants of Red Dead; Take the GTA formula and twist it into something completely unexpected.

For the uninitiated, L.A. Noire takes place in the late 1940's and puts you in the shoes of a man named Cole Phelps, a soldier just back from World War II whose trying to find his place in the world. Deciding to put his military experience to use, he joins the LAPD and your main goal throughout the game is to climb the ranks of the police force to go from street cop to detective and then you must work your way up through the hierarchy of departments like traffic, homicide, vice, etc..

The gameplay seems to blend the open-world freedom, driving, and gun fights from GTA IV with detective work similar to that of the Ace Attorney series or Heavy Rain. This means you'll be exploring crime scenes for clues and, once you've found them, you can take a closer look at them to reveal more information about the case. The cover system and shooting control seem to have been tightened up since GTA IV and should work even better here. The driving looks similar to GTA but I suspect that, although there will be car chases, the cars will probably drive slower than they did in Liberty City since these are all cars from the 40's. This is probably for the best since driving too quickly in GTA IV would sometimes cause the game to hitch up and objects often wouldn't appear until you'd already crashed into them.

Stylistically, this game already gets the thumbs up from me. How often do you see 1940's era America depicted in a video game? And how often do you see it done to the quality on display here? Never.
L.A. Noire looks like crime drama at it's absolute best and with a powerhouse like Rockstar to back it, May should be great month for a trip to the City of Angels.

Here's an official trailer that sets the stage very well and should pique your intrest if this post hasn't already:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mass Effect 3

This is the announcement trailer for the upcoming Mass Effect 3. I saw this a few weeks ago when it debuted at the Video Game Awards on Spike TV and i just had to post it because I am totally stoked about this game. I am a huge fan of the series and I can't wait to see what happens to finish out the trilogy. Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games and it won a TON of awards from various websites and magazines. Bioware has truly accomplished something great with ME and I wish them all the luck in making the fianl installment the best the series has to offer.