Monday, 2 July 2012

Round up

L.A. Noire

You know what gets boring? Going to work each day, doing the same things and starting your day at a desk. Well guess what, Rockstar made a game making you do exactly this! L.A. Noire puts you in the role of an ambitious police officer in the corrupt post-war years in L.A.

The game is all about finding clues at crime scenes, then investigating witnesses and accused criminals. It starts out intruiging enough and actually feels like a very original game. Questioning people is a tricky affair, having to read the actors expressions to see how their ingame characters (which all look kind of creepy, more than they do impressive) react to alligations og questions.

While this gameplay sounds fairly good on paper, it sadly turns out to be a really repetitive and annoying affair. Little does it help that the action-orientated controls needed for car chases handle like they are made of air. The shoot-outs scream Rockstar shitiness (Hello GTAIV!) and are terrible. The driving and action scenes are almost a joke and it seems that the developers knew this allowing you to skip any action scene if desired.

This is a game truly for people with patience and very little interest in typical gameplay heavy games. Only jump in if you are interested in a stylish story and solving crimes and murders.



Duke Nukem Forever

DNF is probably on of the most delayed games in gaming history and gained fame because of it. I remember reading about in a PlayStation 1(!) magazine back in the nineties. The development has been restarted numerous times and been handed from one developer to the other, until finally Gearbox decided to get it finished.

The game really doesn't look particularly pretty, in fact in parts it looks really rough around the edges and actually quite ugly. In other parts it takes benefit from running on the Unreal 3 engine though, and boasts some rather imaginative and cool locations. The whole game feels very old-school first person shooter and in fact it's actually something positive.

DNF doesn't take itself serious at all with really crude but funny humour combined with straight forward shooting. The challenge are the often brutal enemies and simply playing it like an old FPS with very little tools at you disposal. Forget ironsights and laying down to fire, this is all about hip-firing and jumping around to avoid bullets. Think Unreal or Quake and not modern military shooters.

The game even has a few hints to it's development time and early screenshots, it sends you on a very varied set of locations and will challenge most FPS players today with it quite harsh difficulty, compared to the rather casual gamer orientated modern FPS games.



PS: If you want to extend your DNF experience even further, the singleplayer DLC download "The Doctor Who Cloned Me", is really good value and takes about 2 hours to complete!

Driver: San Francisco

One of my truly favourite PS1 titles back in the days was Driver. I would sit for hours just driving around in it's four huge cities. Sequels followed, but each one turned out to be a bigger disappointment than the last. Hearing about D:SF made me kind of sceptical and even a demo didn't really convince me. Finally the game went on the cheap and I jumped in. Turns out I shouldn't have doubted Reflections, the game is great!

It evolves around the idea the skill the main character obtains after crashing and ending up in a coma. Called "Shift" this feature lets you at any time pan out of your vehicle and zoom in on another and take control of it. While unrealistic, this feature actually makes the game very enjoyable and makes it stand out from the crowd in a very positive way. Having trouble getting chased by the cops? Just jump into a car in the opposite lane and ram them, then go back to your own car which meanwhile is auto-driving the direction you left it in. It paves way for some spectacular crashes and very creative ways of stopping cars or winning races.

Technically D:SF runs at a smooth and rather spectacular 60fps. The car models are really nice and are actually real licensed models, in fact there are over a hundred of them. The cars feel heavy and drifty, so car chases look spectacular and movie like, in fact D:SF handles perfectly for a type of game like this. It's not realistic, but it's fun and makes you feel like a pro. The sheer variation in missions and modes is also really impressive. Reflections have really found every way a driving game can be played. A funny multiplayer mode to mention is to trail a Delorean, everybody fighting to stay in it's wake, the one doing so earns points. I also liked the missions where you had to protect a stationary armoured truck by ramming incoming cars with other cars you simply shift into.

While the story and cutscenes of the main storymode in D:SF seem a cheesy at the beginning, let the game settle and you will truly be in for one the most varied driving games and free-roam games made. It's the game you are looking for if you've finished Burnout Paradise and are looking for something similar!



F.E.A.R. 3

In a way the F.E.A.R. franchise should have been much larger than what it became, at least considering it's roots. The original F.E.A.R. was a fantastic cross between an action-filled FPS and a horror game. It completely outdid the competition graphically and the effects it used in it's slow-motion and destruction were amazing for it's time. Perhaps the first fault Monolith did was letting other people take care of some fairly confusing add-ons, and later on deny their storyline and make their own sequel. F.E.A.R. 2 did deliver a far more varied experience, but never quite nailed the atmosphere and originality of it's predecessor. F.E.A.R. 3 seems to follow the original games add-ons, being created by a different developer. A strange move for a franchise which could have been far more than it became.

What we are delivered in F.E.A.R.3 is a story of two brothers, both sons of the project in F.E.A.R.1 where Alma was born. One is Paxton Fettel and the other, a new character, is Point Man. The latter guy plays like the original F.E.A.R. games, with his slow-motion abilities and gun expertise. Fettel has more psychics abilities and relies on taking over enemy soldiers bodies and using them to kill each other. A more defensive playstyle if you like.

There doesn't really take much playtime to realize that F.E.A.R.3 is a fairly low-budget game. The presentation of the story is messy and never really explains much. The graphics are really generic and at times even quite aged, and while the gunplay feels solid the small levels look like an old FPS game. The environments you traverse are fairly standard too, making most of the game a sort of sleep walk through it. The airport level is the only one that stuck out for me and was quite good.

I guess it's an okay FPS for those who really want expand in the genre and need more games in it, but there is little to get from this title as a whole. If you are a huge fan of the series and a FPS fan you could give it a go.



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