Posts Tagged ‘Rockstar’
Rock, Paper, Shotgun noted on Monday that the Adults Only-rated, PC-only version of Manhunt 2 had disappeared from the only online marketplace willing to carry the game, Direct2Drive. Direct2Drive has recently been purchased by Gamefly, and the company’s policy has changed to no longer carry AO titles. RPS notes that Direct2Drive was the last digital distribution market that allowed for AO games, and the article ends with the (probably facetious) question, “Will no one ever dare make mainstream games truly for adults?”
I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone ask us to think of the perverts before, so let’s treat this more seriously than was probably intended. The first thing I noted is that Amazon does still carry a selection of AO-rated games. These are primarily translated, Japanese erotic visual novels (eroge), though there are a couple of variants. The uncut and uncensored version of Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is available, as is Bonetown, a “naughty role playing game with the free roaming atmosphere of GTA.” So all is not hopeless for the AO market; it’s just really slim pickings if your not into anime boobs.
Of course, the question wasn’t about sexually charged games, it was about “mainstream games” that are “truly for adults.” What were Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, or Heavy Rain, if not mainstream games designed for adults? Each deals with themes that require a certain level of maturity simply to enjoy, much less to get the most of. It’s the equivalent of looking at the dearth of NC-17 movies at theaters and crying, “Why are all movies made for children?”
Add to that, the list of games that have received an AO rating doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence about the need for an AO marketplace. I’ve read some positive things about some of the eroge out there, that the stories are deep and engaging, with complex plots and truly fulfilling endings, regardless of their sexual content. They’re a niche market, though, not mainstream. Of the mainstream games, only one, the uncut version of Indigo Prophecy, could be considered mature rather than just gratuitous.
The trouble with sex in games, really with sex in any medium, is that it’s so rarely necessary to the story. Graphic depictions of sex are often there just to titillate, and they add very little to the actual story. I can only think of a couple of movies where the sex scenes were integral to understanding the plot or characters, and couldn’t have been handled with just a fade-to-black. Most novels I’ve read already do this; if it doesn’t advance anything, don’t waste words on it.
I think that’s tied to the maturity of the medium, though, and games still have a ways to go to catch up to film and literature in storytelling ability. I think there’s plenty of opportunity, and I’m looking forward to the day we see games utilize all aspects of mature storytelling. Until then, though, it’s no great loss that a mediocre torture porn game is widely unavailable.
Rockstar has sent out a press release today announcing their DLC plans for L.A. Noire. Three new suits, one challenge, a new gun, and four cases are scheduled to release, with most of them available today. The DLC can be purchased individually for a total of $20, or you can pick up the Rockstar Pass for $10.
If you join Rockstar’s Social Club, you get the Chicago Lightning Detective Suit for free, and you should also be able to download the Chicago Piano Machine Gun for free today, as well. Two of the cases, “The Naked City” and “A Slip of the Tongue,” were launch-day retailer exclusives (GameStop and Walmart, respectively), while “Nicholson Electroplating” and “Reefer Madness” will be two new cases dropping in June and July.
The price of the pass goes up to $12 on June 14th, so you’ll want to pick it up sooner than later. I’ve got my MS Points card and am headed to my 360 as soon as I publish this.
My wife and I love Law & Order. Who doesn’t, right? A crime is committed. Clues are found. Witnesses are questioned. Suspects are interrogated. Confessions are obtained. It all happens in an hour, and once you’re done, there’s always another one waiting.
L.A. Noire hits that groove. Its big accomplishment isn’t in its meticulous recreation of late 40s Los Angeles. It’s not the firefights, the car chases, the clue finding or the interrogations. It’s the game’s ability to so effectively nail down the police procedural genre.
The game puts you in the shoes of Cole Phelps, LAPD, shortly after WWII. He is an ambitious paladin cop. He’s also an anachronism, a modern cop in a time of open sexism, racism and old boy politics. As Phelps, you’ll navigate the mean streets of a nascent Los Angeles, chasing down leads to solve a series of crimes. The crimes are arranged in episodes, much like police procedural TV shows. The title of the episode is displayed in black and white, the camera focuses on the victim, the victim is felled, and the case begins.
As in most procedurals, the case begins at the crime scene. As Phelps, you’ll walk around the scene, waiting for two little piano notes that are the cue that you’ve found something interesting. Sometimes, the clue is nothing, and Phelps will murmur something about how it doesn’t seem to be related. Other times, it’ll be an important clue, and the camera will zoom in to allow you to catch some fine detail that could be important to your investigation. In some of the creepier moments of the game, you’ll crouch over murder victims, manipulating their bodies in order to get a better look at their wounds. The clues will be logged in your notebook so that you may pore over them later.
L.A. Noire’s treatment of questioning and interrogation is one of its star features. As you talk with someone, they’ll make a statement and you’ll have to choose whether to say you trust them, you doubt them, or you think they’re lying. You choose truth if you think they’re telling the truth, doubt if you think they’re hiding something but all you have is a hunch, and lie if you have proof they’re lying. Choose correctly, they’ll give you more info. Choose wrong, and they’ll clam up, shutting the door to that avenue of investigation.
The questioning phase is a key moment in the investigation when you should have all your clues at the ready. If you choose wrongly, there’s no going back in the conversation tree to try again. The camera will focus in on the person you’re questioning, and you’ll actually have to read their body language in order to gain a hint on what they’re thinking. The classic “tells” are there. If they shift their eyes, chances are they’re hiding something. However, keep in mind there are some people who seem to be born liars.
Your investigations will have you criss-crossing Los Angeles to go to various crime scenes and find suspects. Here, you’ll get behind the wheel to get to your destination Grand Theft Auto style. While the comparisons to GTA are inescapable, there are some key differences. The rules in L.A. Noire are different. You’re a cop, not a crazed psychopath. The game punishes you for creating havoc. Also, you’re not going to need the near-encyclopedic knowledge of the layout of the city that’s necessary to succeed in GTA. You can, for instance, let your partner drive you to a place of interest, which is much like taking a cab in GTA. It’s a neat feature, but don’t do it too much. Having your partner drive you around might be faster and less costly to the city and its denizens, but you’ll miss the chance to gain XP by noting landmarks and taking the street
crime side missions that pop up from time to time.
Did I say XP? Yes, I did. You’ll gain XP and levels throughout L.A. Noire. However, the only bonus you’ll receive that relates to the game is the award of intuition points at every level. Intuition points can be burned when you’re stumped, when there’s a vital clue that needs to be found or when a suspect is just unreadable. If you expend an intuition point at a crime scene, all the clues will show up on your radar for a short time. If you burn one during interrogation, one of the “truth, doubt or lie” options will be crossed out, making it a matter of choosing between two options rather than three.
The focus of my criticism in the first draft of my review focused on the lack of gameplay. For instance, I consider Bioshock and Shadow of the Colossus to be works of art that also have great gameplay. I just got done reviewing Brink, which has gameplay in spades. In the early stage of L.A. Noire, I felt sort of let down because what I’ve described to you above just didn’t seem to be enough to carry an entire game. If you look at it from a certain angle, L.A. Noire has a linear plotline, a cityscape that’s altogether skippable because your partner is also your personal chauffeur, a 3D hidden object minigame and a bit of Phoenix Wright tacked on to it. I wrote in the first draft, “Investigate, question, solve, rinse, repeat.” Then, I decided to let go and approach the game as I would an interactive episode of Law & Order. That’s when I started liking it. Then the plot started getting its hooks in me. That’s when I fell in love.
Police procedurals aren’t about gunfights, car chases and explosions. They are slow, methodical vehicles for telling a story about a crime, who committed it and the people who figured it out. In L.A. Noire, you’ll get to learn more about Phelps, his history and what he does when he’s not busy being the one good cop in a city full of sinners. You’ll learn more about his partners and their views of good, evil, and the gray area in between. L.A. Noire’s story is slow to develop, but every new episode gets you deeper and deeper.
It feels weird writing this, but the world needs L.A. Noire. These are stories that are begging to be told. Run-and-gun gamers may fault the game for being a lot of hype with little substance. This game isn’t for them. Fans of open-world gaming may feel straightjacketed by the linear plots. The game isn’t for them, either. L.A. Noire is an amazing story of good, evil, duty, chaos, truth, lies, murder and vice, all set in an incredible city at a pivotal time. Sit back from the edge of your seat, gamers, and drink it in. You’ll be back on the edge of your seat soon enough.
Rating: Purchase – Go out and buy it. Worth the price of admission.
Reviewer: Alex the Producer on Xbox 360
We’ve got a long one this week! We may have gone off for a little bit too long on Blood Bowl. Just know that Alex edited out a lot more than he left in! We discuss the R.U.S.E. beta ever so briefly (which is a good description of how long we played the beta, as well), and then move into headlines before Alex can get distracted by his Games Workshop fanboyism.
Would you be willing to pay more for Xbox Live if you got television content through it?
Study claims that “brain games” do little to exercise that gray lump in your skull.
British video game retail chains owns its customers’ souls. MWAHAHAHAHA!
We’ve got a blooper this week, and remember all that Blood Bowl talk we skipped over in the episode proper? By popular demand, we tacked it on to the end of the episode. If you’re interested in our thoughts on future prospects for Blood Bowl, Cyanide, Games Workshop, and turn-based tabletop board game conversions, be sure to listen through the credits.
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