Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LA Noire: completed!

I had only a few missions to complete in that game, it turns out, all of which involved hunting down various corrupt officials and getting them to talk.

I think that shooting him in the leg was probably a bit excessive, but as I said previously the game has taken control of my character's actions in order to progress the story.  This has just got worse as the game's progressed - it's not longer merely Phelps being over-zealous in questioning; it's now Kelso shooting people during cutscenes.

Still, at least I get to drive between these and watch people being shifty.

The endgame saw me exploring a creepy dilapidated house, in which a madman had been holed up.  The game carefully told you that he was mad several times, before showing him folding origami cranes over and over again.  Finding these in the house was quite a shock.

The final missions turned into a run-and-gun cover shooter, with the madman seemingly able to convince dozens of men to lay down their lives just to keep me away from him.  Naturally, that didn't work, but it was pretty tense, running around the sewer systems and popping out to shoot people.  It felt pretty familiar in some ways, reminding me of gameplay in Red Dead Redemption.

I finally found the flamethrower man, who turned out to be someone that Phelps and Kelso had served with.  Funny that all the main characters turned out to be linked in some way, given the size of the city the game's set in.

And then the end of the game sees Rockstar killing off the main character again, but this time I have little sympathy left for him - even after he helped to save everyone else.

After the credits, you can go back and play in free roam mode, which means that you no longer need to worry about how much damage you cause when driving.  I enjoyed that, and ended up with some amusing accidents.

Overall, a great game, but the story was crowbarred in a little, which spoilt the interactivity somewhat.  I hope a sequel could improve on that.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

LA Noire: am I overly moralistic?

Games, as interactive experiences, put the player into the character they control. The player determines how the character progresses, whether they succeed, and how they act. This, of course, is a challenge to game scriptwriters, who have to determine how players can all get to the same ending no matter how they behave. Some games get this more right than others.

I've mentioned before about how I feel uncomfortable playing certain games - Bulletstorm, for example, didn't keep my interest as I felt that the characters were unlikable. I've played around half an hour of Gears of War before tiring of the macho idiocy. LA Noire has hit it from a different aspect, however. For the first couple of sets of levels, there's not too much of a running story, other than an up-and-coming policeman getting promoted. By the time you start on the Vice Desk, however, there's a much grander story happening, and Cole Phelps - your character - gets a little too involved. The end of the vice desk cases sees Phelps exposed as an adulterer.

So no matter how I play the game, whether I stop at red lights, I am forced to play the part of an adulterer. My character gets thrown out of his home and demoted, whether that's how I was acting or not.  It's a sudden break in the immersion which is entirely unwelcome.

Anyway, I've done a few cases on the Arson Desk now and I feel the game's coming to a head. I'm no longer playing as Phelps - probably just as well since I have no empathy with him - but he's cropping up from time to time.  Maybe I can complete this soon ...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

1000 Heroz: nearly there

Up to day 926 now, and I'm all-but-out of the RLLMUK leaderboard, as Donny Rosco is 40,000 points ahead and while I beat him on most days, that's only gaining me 100 points a day on average.  My period of not playing has come back to haunt me.

Most days see me getting a global rank of around 200, which is pleasing.  I think at the moment I'm 50th in the world, but there's a fair bit of time still to go.

Friday, December 06, 2013

LA Noire: am I a robot?

I knew this was lauded for its facial animation, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so accomplished.  The characters don't suffer from the plastic faces of most games, and the lip-syncing is almost eerie in its accuracy.  Of course, Rockstar claimed this was needed so that players could assess whether the characters in the game were lying or telling the truth, but in reality it's made much more obvious through shifting eyes, stuttering responses, and finding evidence beforehand.

Having said that, I'm doing particularly badly at this, finding it difficult to work out which evidence to present and even if the people are telling lies, much more than when I play Phoenix Wright.  There are quite a few differences between the games, of course, but the idea of solving crimes with an evidence-based approach means that they feel very similar at times - particularly where I'm playing the two at the same time and starting to confuse which bits of evidence I've got in which game.

The other thing I'm bad at is driving in a sensible and law-abiding manner.  I am forever crashing into civilians, almost running them over on the pavements, and bringing down lampposts.  As a result I'm not scoring particularly highly overall, and have had a couple of tellings off from my superiors.  I don't know if the end-of-missions cut scenes do change depending on how well you do, but if not it's a bit of a coincidence that the chief is generally unhappy with me when I've failed to ask the right questions.

Asking the right questions is tricky in itself.  You are given three options - accept a statement as the truth, indicate that you doubt it, or present evidence that it's a lie.  Often if you choose the 'doubt' option, because (say) you don't think that someone can be sure of what they're claiming, your character blunders in and shouts louder than if you were accusing them of the murder itself.  The interviewees get offended and you've failed the questioning session.

So, I'm not doing too well, making me doubt if I have any human empathy at all.  But I am enjoying it a lot, and the world in which it's set is really solid and well designed.  I've been promoted from a rank-and-file policeman to the traffic desk, and then on to the homicide desk.  Most of the murders have been very similar, but with apparently different perpetrators.  I'm hoping that the story doesn't twist to show that I've send a number of innocents to their executions.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies: completed!

There's not too much I can say about case 5 without spoiling it completely, but there were some pretty large twists which helped segue case 4 into case 5 and then turn case 5 on its head halfway through.  Really well scripted and thought out, though the quality of the translation dropped a few times.  That being said, there were some excellent lines and situations.

And I didn't get a screenshot, but Athena's line of "The court will note that this is different from the selective hearing men are so good at!" made me laugh a lot.  I particularly enjoyed the references to older games in the series, such as the ladder and stepladder specification.

But now it's over, and there'll be a wait for the next game.

Or not, because there's a brand new case available on the eShop! Huzzah!

Everybody Votes Channel: screenshots

Back in June of this year, Nintendo closed down a few of the channels on the Wii which relied on someone sitting in head office maintaining some sort of online service.  These included the news and weather channels; while there are far more effective ways of looking up the news and the weather, Nintendo's approach of giving you a globe to grab and spin was more fun than most.

One of the services closed down was the Everybody Votes Channel.  When this first launched I visited it a lot - checking the results every couple of days, suggesting my own questions.  I was pretty good at predicting which option would be more popular.  I'd not used the channel for a couple of years, but when I heard it was closing I went back to look at it.  It seemed to still be quite well populated - there were at least enough people to form meaningful results, at least.

There are few good quality screenshots of the channel on the Internet.  I captured quite a few in June, which are included here.  If you want to use any of these on your websites, feel free - please just include a link to this post.