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L.A. Noire has more problems

L.A. Noire Screenshot

It's not unusual for game developers to take their inspiration from other, better established media. There are roughly fifty games about some version of Indiana Jones, after all. It is, however, a little on the strange side to see a game lift content so thoroughly that lawyers could very well get involved. Even Deadly Premonition, which was noted far and wide for its similarities to television series Twin Peaks, was smart enough to merely use that show as a jumping-off point.

L.A. Noire has problems

L.A. Noire has problems

Many, many, problems. So many, in fact, that I couldn't risk talking about them in my review of the game lest I completely spoil the story for anyone who hasn't played it yet (and still wants to). Over here in the blog section, however, I'm free to be as spoiler-y as I want, so I've put together an article detailing some of the ways in which the game doesn't measure up.

Identity Crysis

Identity Crysis

Crysis 2 is an excellent game and worth playing if you have ever enjoyed first-person shooters at all. On many levels, however, I thought the game couldn't really decide what it wanted to be about. Is it a game about making sound tactical choices in an operation against a superior force, or is it a (bad) story about squid attacking New York City with a bio-weapon?

Consoleation: Solo, so long

Portal 2 Screenshot

Why is the industry so quick to dismiss the single-player experience? What happens when an online service goes down, which happened to Xbox Live a few years ago and is currently affecting PSN? What happens when your internet service provider has connectivity issues or goes down completely? If today's games are more about connectivity and playing with others, wouldn't the $60 spent on each game be a waste at that point?

Kirby's Epic Yarn and de Blob 2: Two (too?) easy games

Kirby's Epic Yarn Screenshot

The most difficult part of reviewing a game is reviewing the difficulty. A few games—Super Meat Boy, I Wanna be the Guy—can uncontroversially be called hard, but the essential question is actually whether they are too hard. Since that level of difficulty depends not only on the individual player's skills and experience, but also on his values, it can be difficult to state what goes over the line. It is even harder to accurately say whether a game is too easy, primarily because most reviewers are skilled and experienced gamers, many of them drawn to the hobby during its early days when challenge was practically all a game could offer in terms of fun.

Consoleation: The war on used games—greed-ality!

Mortal Kombat Screenshot

I was excited for Mortal Kombat. The demo played pretty well, albeit a little on the slow side. The special editions of the game looked pretty neat. It felt like a throwback rather than an attempt to keep expanding in the direction that the games took during the last console generation. It seemed like a day-one purchase for me, if only to support the revival of a fighting game that used to share the spotlight with Street Fighter some 15 years ago.

Consoleation: L.A. Noire—Case of the Ransomed Content

L.A. Noire Screenshot

L.A. Noire is one of the most anticipated games of 2011. The premise is unique, as gathering evidence and solving cases are going to be at least as important as any other features of gameplay. The motion capture looks amazing. The voice acting sounds fantastic. There's a lot to be excited about when the game finally emerges next month. Unfortunately, L.A. Noire is also set up to be one of the most segmented game releases in recent memory.

Consoleation: The not so noble intentions of abandoning instruction manuals

Fight Night Champion Screenshot

I came out pretty strong on Twitter recently, decrying the loss of instruction manuals as publishers such as Ubisoft and EA Sports have made moves to abolish print manuals in exchange for digital manuals that can be found as extra content on the game disc. While publishers are reasoning that eliminating such manuals is better for the environment, it seems evident to me that there are more significant factors at work here.

Video: Microsoft Research shows off "smart interactive displays"

Was Kinect just the tip of the iceberg? I sure hope so. Microsoft Research's Applied Sciences group looks to be creating some truly impressive solutions to interacting with displays without the need of a traditional input device like a mouse or pointer.

Video: Microsoft Research shows off "smart interactive displays"

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, but I digress...

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors Screenshot

It seems like most of the people who wrote reviews of 999 thought very highly of it. I'm not sure why that was; I found the game to be a fairly tedious exercise in the repetition of insufficiently interesting puzzles. 999 creates this problem for itself because of its structure. The enforced replays that are central to 999's design and fiction ask for more from the puzzles and dialogue than they are able to contribute as art or entertainment.

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