Tag: Rockstar Games
What’s that?! Rockstar are taking a break from releasing superb and original games to go back to continuing the Grand Theft Auto saga? And they’re also talking about possibly releasing their car and gun fest to Nintendo’s new family friendly console? What has the world come to?
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I keep forgetting there’s actually a third Max Payne game set for release. It’s been such a long gap between the second and third compared to the first two that I wonder what could be taking them so long. I mean, it’s no Duke Nukem Forever, but even some of us more patient players have our limits. And now we might finally have ourselves a date.
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Monday Morning. I’m investigating the scene of a possible homicide. After driving like a Nascar berk through a highly pedestrianised part of LA without anyone batting an eyelash, we arrive at the ticker taped clearing with gawking rubber-neckers in tow. The body of an unidentified woman (naked) lies in a possible rape position. It’s the rendering of her netherings that catches my eye. Inspecting the body by rotating her arms until my hands rumble, I’m given more clues about the murder. Clues to the crime aren’t so much dotted, as they are conveniently placed.
Again, a rumbling rotation reveals even more clues on the scene. A shaky bystander is being questioned by police. After snapping out of the trance brought on by the creepily realistic face movements, it’s up to me to believe everything she says or nail a dead otter to her head with the words ‘Liar’ written in mud. Her eyebrows tell me she has something to hide, but what? I wave the bloodied rope in her face in a vague effort at getting her to admit to the murder of Mrs Gleason, the bank robbery last week and the unauthorised eating of my sandwich back at central precinct. This all leads to nothing, so I’m forced into doing the whole thing again at the next crime scene.
Whilst most of the gameplay in LA Noire tends to follow a familiar pattern, there’s no doubting at how atmospherically thick it is. I mean, there is a point in some games where you never forget you’re playing a game, but thanks to some fantastic acting and the brand new motion capture technology that Rockstar have been Chinese Democracy-ing for the past seven years, I was convinced at times that I was watching a new TV series in a similar vain to Mad Men. I believe we have now reached a milestone in graphic technology in mainstream gaming where the lines between reality and a virtual environment will tangle like Alan Moore’s beard. It does require in depth gameplay and fluidity to make the escapist experience in this medium possible, but effort on the visual front does help the eyes pop out into the fantasy.
As far as I’m concerned with LA Noire, it is the most well presented console game to date. Now that I’ve got all the shameless felating of the game visuals out of my system, I can get round to talking about the game itself. In short, it’s practically an adaption of LA Confidential. It’s the late 40’s, and Cole Phelps has been promoted to the ranks of detective within the world’s friendliest (sarcasm) police force. The course of the game takes you through several cases which you need to solve through a strung together series of point and click style searching, shooting, driving and fighting. Rather than stick to the sandbox style of play that Grand Theft Auto influenced just about every game out at the moment, LA Noire goes for a more separated approach. You’re never out of a mission, but you can free roam the city to an extent. Just don’t expect to go on a rocket launcher fuelled rampage that Rockstar usually fires at you. You’re a cop remember. Protect and Serve, is the LAPD’s motto.
Although the Euphoria engine still makes your character walk like he’s carrying too many Tesco bags full of oranges, the cars handle the best in any sandbox game that I’ve played. And they look bloody nice too. Marv from Sin City was right when he said that modern cars look like electric shavers in comparison. Noire-esque incidental music playing whilst tailing a suspect really completes the image. I’ve already bought myself some nice braces for my trousers. The trilby is next. Even the story has the potential to trump other top gaming narratives so far. There are a few twists that I can’t mention for health reasons and the dialogue is just perfect in places. As I said, a very well presented game.
The only possible downer is that there’s no real free roam in the Grand Theft Auto sense and there’s no multiplayer to laze into. But can that be a bad thing? Although it does limit the replay value, it makes the focused single player more fulfilling, like a well stuffed sandwich. Although you already know the outcome of each case, there are still many alternative ways to end it. Some with surprising results. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to listen to jazz in my trilby whilst talking like James Cagney. Being single is great.
This year, I only just managed to catch that brilliant film that is L.A. Confidential. Watching films about morally ambiguous cops wearing hats and suspenders kinda makes you wish you could get away with wearing such a style down to the local Co Op and back. Thankfully, I can just resort to pretending to do that behind the safety of my Xbox pad, as Rockstar Games once again avoid releasing another Grand Theft Auto.
Originally announced for the Playstation 3 as an exclusive title (bringing their exclusive title library to almost double figures), L.A. Noire eventually moved over to the cross platform side of the party (that’s a damn good party to be at). The game takes place in the city of Los Angeles (I’ll pause why you calm down from surprise) at the end of the Forties, where men were men and women were more woman-ish than they are nowadays. Lousy women’s liberation grumble grumble. You’ll be on the side of the law this time as you’ll play a detective caught up in corruption and murder to a pleasant jazz soundtrack that fits in nicely. Nothing says corrupt murder like a trumpet solo.
One of the main features of the game is the new motion scan technology that makes the faces move more face-like. Now for the first time in a videogame, people will actually have more than five expressions. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes that technology and bastardises it into a game where you run around making bizarre faces at people. Mind you, as long as it has a decent multiplayer, I’d still buy it.
The game is set to have the same gameplay layout to Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, but will probably allow you less bazooka rampages than you would get from Niko Bellic. If it’s anything like the first Mafia game, the cars will look nice, but handle like a bath on wheels, whilst the guns will shoot people…providing you aim them correctly. Not much to say on that really, is there. Ok, we’ll probably see a saturation of Tommy guns, leading to gamers everywhere to shout out endless James Cagney lines at an annoying volume.
So far, L.A. Noire is looking to fill that Trilby shaped hole for now that Mafia 2 failed miserably at doing. After taking nearly seven years and around $50 million to make it will be released next month on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
It’s hard when you’re a man who loves guns in video games. Let me rephrase that. It’s hard when you’re a man who loves first person shooters about modern war. This is one reason I left Red Dead Redemption alone for a while. When I finally came round to playing it after being stubborn, I immediately felt guilty about not playing it sooner. In a way, the game itself was my redemption. Wild West games seem to barely exist today. From memory, apart from this game, I can only call out Gun and Call of Jaurez, which are both good games. What does that say about the genre? Either that there are either not enough games about the wild west, or these games have pretty much covered all the good points.
What makes Red Dead Redemption a superb title though is that the game plays out like Grand Theft Auto 4 should have played. Even the in game cut scenes were a joy to watch, despite that they were technically interrupting my game. That’s what grabbed me from the beginning. The long introduction see’s John Marston (who needs to win some kind of award for best character in a game, at least!) get off a train in the year 1911 (the last days of the wild west) with two moody government types. He’s on a mission from the government to capture his old outlaw friends to earn his redemption, but not before being shot and nursed back to health by a nearby rancher. The story shares a few similarities with the GTA series in the sense that your character is a man of questionable ethics who starts out with nothing in a strange land, apart from a vendetta.
One thing that GTA didn’t have is the survival and RPG elements of Red Dead Redemption. Marston learns new skills and improves as the game progresses, which is fitting considering that each settlement is surrounded with harsh wilderness. You need to improve to survive in this game. Playing with a GTA hat on doesn’t get you by on its own. It takes more than just abiding the law to not get you killed. Various wildlife waits in the bushes to take you down when you least expect it. And there’s a lot. It starts out shooting groups of coyotes until you’re up against cougars and even a big old bear. And even then, you’ll probably be too distracted by the scenery to actually defend yourself.
Never before have I seen a sky so wonderfully rendered since Fallout 3. The night looks enchanting whilst the sunny days feel hot even through the screen. Even the rain made me shiver. I can save time by just stating that the graphics are the best yet. The gameplay is almost the same to GTA, except cars (horses in this time) handle way differently and you now have bullet time. No, I’m not calling it Dead Eye! The side quests are a nice distraction too. There are different kinds of gambling, various mini-games and the chance to become a bounty hunter. Not that the main quest is boring. It starts off a bit slow as you do odd jobs for the rancher who saved you, but the game changes gears at several points before it gets too repetitive.
The narrative progresses well until the last hour of the game where everything happens at once and I was left with a gaping jaw and a tear in my eye. It was that damn good, but I won’t spoil anything for you. The only problem I encountered was the game was a little too easy in places. Since your health and bullet time recharge, and ammo is more abundant than carbon dioxide, there becomes no major difficulty apart from moving out of the way when someone starts shooting. In a way, I was kind of looking forward to the situation where I run out of ammo and forced to use the knife and stealth path. Despite this flaw, the game still lasted a long time and it didn’t really ruin my experience.
There’s also a multiplayer mode that I’ve yet to try as well as the popular zombie mode (Red Dead Undead?), but the £40 price is worth the main game alone. It took me a week of intense playing to finish this game, and even then I still wasn’t tired of what was possibly the most perfect gaming experience I’ve had in the last few years.
Bully: Scholarship Edition is the 360 port of sandbox action game. As with other games from developers RockStar Games, Bully was surrounded with a degree of controversy as it allowed the player to take control as a schoolboy with options to commit acts of violence and vandalism.
Players take control of wayward teen, Jimmy Hopkins, a rough ginger thug with some morals. Jimmy’s estranged mother dumps her son at the gates of Bullworth academy, worst school in the country, and is immediately escorted to the principals office for a harsh talking to about Jimmy’s reputation as a thug.
Now a student at Hogwarts, I mean Bullworth, Jimmy has his own room at the boy’s dorm where he can save his game, sleep and, after progressing in the game, pick up weapons and supplies as well as change his clothes.
From here on the story follows the similar rags to riches narrative, only instead of a mob infested city, it’s a boarding school with a host of colourful characters. Colourful is probably to best describe them as they follow the similar gang motives seen in GTA.
Gameplay is ripped straight from GTA with no real changes. An interesting twist with the progression is the lesson system (we are in a school, remember). A lesson in the morning and a lesson in the afternoon ranging across several subjects will be required unless you want the prefects after you (Bully’s version of the police).
Bully gives a slightly fresh experience but falls into the similar trap that many GTA clones have tumbled down in terms of originality and clunky controls. Slow down occurs at a variety of times causing your grip of controlling Jimmy to loosen as he runs straight into a prefect instead of jumping over a fence to escape.
The characters seem to be pretty two dimensional; at times I thought I was watching a toned downed episode of Skins. Bully seems to be trying to do a lot of things at once that the player often feels like they are working to uncover the story rather then play a game.
With the major bad points aside, there were a few moments of genuine joy. Finishing off your opponents in a fight with an almighty wedgie or a Chinese burn has a nostalgic feel to it, which is probably the games hook. Not too original but worth a rent at least.