Monday, May 23, 2011

Game Diary: The Streets of L.A.

This past Friday saw the European release of L.A. Noire, and thanks to all the loyalty points I had accumalated from buying the Nintendo 3DS and a few other games in the interim, my copy didn't actually cost me anything! I've been playing it quite a bit over the weekend, and so far my verdict is that while Rockstar have another high quality game on their hands, I don't think it quite matches Red Dead Redemption, at least for me. I thought the first few missions as a patrolman were rather short and disjointed, but this does pick up when you get promoted to the traffic desk. From then on the cases are considerably longer, and involve scouring the crime scene for clues, interrogating witnesses until you find enough evidence to put someone away, or catch them out in a lie. Then you usually have to chase them down, either on foot or in a car.

The main technological breakthrough that L.A. Noire offers over other games is in the facial animation - never have video game characters looked so convincing. This aspect of the graphics is incredibly impressive, and necessary for the game to work properly - as without the facial ticks of the people you're interviewing, it would be much harder to tell if their withholding information. Nevertheless, outside of this, I don't find the graphics particularly amazing. The 360 version in particular suffers from some unfortunate glitching and slowdown - something that the PS3 version has managed to avoid, from what I've heard. I will save my final verdict for when I've managed to beat the game though.

Sorry for the continuing dearth of posts - things will pick up soon. There's a chance that I may get a job in London, and if that does indeed happen there will probably be a change in focus for this blog. For a little while at least, I will be spending quite a while each day commuting, so there will be less time to play on the 360 and PS3 at home and much more time that could be spent with my handheld consoles. I recently bought the latest version of the GP2X, known as the Caanoo, and it has many improvements over the original model, including a faster processor, inbuilt rechargeable battery and bigger screen. I'm loving it so far and have begun playing Final Fantasy V on a SNES emulator, one of the few games left in the series that I haven't played. Check the video below (not made by me) for an overview.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Game Diary: Backlog Blitz

For the last week I have been on "holiday" (technically, I'm unemployed, but chilling out for a couple of weeks before I really focus on finding another job), so there hasn't been much activity here. I'm going to make up for that this week however with at least one review and potential for more, as my time off has been spent enjoying many games from my backlog. First off, I dusted off my copy off Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood and gave it a spin. It's a very competently made wild west themed first person shooter. Battles are fast paced and exciting, the graphics are decent and it does capture the atmosphere of a classic western very nicely. Some of the features of the game do remind me of Red Dead Redemption, except Call of Juarez came first. It is getting a sequel, but they are bringing the franchise into modern times which I think is a bit of of shame. There's room for one wild west franchise on the market if you ask me, but maybe sales figures say otherwise.

I have also been playing a fair bit of WRC 2010, another game I picked up over Christmas, and it's a great, realistic rally simulation. The graphics aren't quite as detailed as games like Dirt 2, but if you're looking for a realistic representation of rallying, then there are no alternatives. They got the important stuff, like the sensation of speed and the feel of the handling, just right. As for other games, I'm playing through Final Fantasy XIII again, trying to get to the end again - except on the 360 this time. Making good progress here - I've just cleared chapter 8. I picked this up with a very generous leaving gift from the colleagues in my department, along with some other new games - the first Call of Juarez which isn't nearly as good as Bound in Blood unfortunately, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena which is an update of the Xbox game with new content. I knew the original was a great game but I never owned it, so I'll finally get a chance to check it out. Lastly, I also bought The Godfather, EA's sandbox game based on the film. It's not bad, no GTA but a decent game nonetheless.

Although this is a gaming blog, from time to time I also like to focus on movies, and as there are some potentially great ones coming out over the next few weeks you can expect some mini reviews here and there. We have Thor, Hanna, Attack the Block, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and more. I will also be starting an 80's movie club, where I will watch two randomly picked movies from a chosen year during the 80's and then tell you what I think. I have already watched one of the two films from 1980, so you can expect the first entry fairly soon. In the meantime, carry on gaming, and reconvene here in a day or two for that Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood review.