Wednesday, 27 June 2012

L.A. Noire free download!

Well, not quite a free download, per say. But almost!

I reviewed L.A. Noire a little while ago and it's a wonderful game being offered for next to nothing by everyone's favourite online game store - Steam. The folks at Valve (owners of Steam) have reduced the L.A Noire download to an almost insane level: $3.74 USD! So make sure you get in quick before the sale ends.

If you do miss the sale, the game's pretty cheap anyway for the value you get... Check out the Amazon link below:

'Till next time,


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Departed

Jack's back and he wants blood...
This movie was INTENSE. About twenty people were shot, others violently mugged and many more verbally and physically assaulted. And this movie was directed by the same bloke who did Hugo!?

This 150-minute, epic styled thriller stars Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon: quite the line-up. Their performances were great, which is especially important as they were playing characters very adverse to the kind of roles Hollywood usually dishes out for them. Even Jack “type-cast” Nicholson’s role felt like a breath of new air. Their voices and demeanor were captivating and felt very real.

I mentioned the director: his name is Martin Scorsese and I think his overall style was very well-executed: enough of the sinister to captivate, whilst still keeping at bay an over-use of dialogue to explain the plot – as is common nowadays with lazy filmmakers. Although the movie was complex in scope, I did feel that it was over-doing the macabre aspects of the film. As a result, the ‘shock’ that the audience was supposed to feel at the very final murder of the film was somewhat dissipated. In fact, I really didn’t feel that the ending was particularly satisfying; I could only help but think, What was the point being made by this movie? Only by watching films such as this does one realise how important it is for a film to convey some kind of clear, defined message: Scorsese was sending me very mixed messages.

Also, the plot was somewhat too complicated. It wasn’t that I had trouble following (as I said, Scorsese explained it well), rather that the film suffered at the hands of an entwining screenplay. The messages in the film were undermined because the film refused to ‘relax’. I think most of this issue comes from the fact that there is no one to sympathise with in the film: i.e. everyone is an antagonist. The audience is thereby not invited to engage in the film, but merely spectate, be horrified by the crimes being committed and events unfolding onscreen, but never empathised with.

The Bottom Line: Solid acting, solid direction, perhaps an unnecessarily complex script detailing overtly macabre themes, but generally a well-shot and thrillingly performed action film.

- Critter

L.A. Noire - Review

No, it's not another GTA...
Wow. A game review. What a new experience! I know it’s been a while, so I thought I’d have a look at a very interesting game from Rockstar.

This game was HUGE when it was released – but don’t get me wrong, I didn’t buy at cover price, OH NO - I had a friend who worked at the game store and I managed to snatch it up at 50% off. So after a weekend of cheapskatey-gamer-goodness I can sit down and ponder on a most curious experience. L.A. Noire is a game set in Los Angeles (big shock there) and styled as a 1950s ‘noire’ film. The story and gameplay concerns a good-hearted, WWII veteran’s life as policeman and detective, an occupation in which the he (and the player) are tasked with solving crimes by means of deduction, logical reasoning, fierce interrogation skills and thick American accents. Funnily enough, most of the voice actors actually come from Sydney, Australia.

I say, ‘voice’ actors with a hint of mistruth because the game doesn’t use just use the voices and animate 3D models to mouth the words – the clever people at Team Bondi (the co-developers) used some of the most realistic facial recognition technology I’ve ever seen – every twitch, glance and expression was displayed in perfect detail. I felt this really added some great elements to the gameplay; being a detective game, when you interrogated suspects or witnesses, you were asked by the game to make a judgement on whether they were telling the truth or not by use of previously uncovered evidence and their facial expression. You can’t do this in many games because the animation just isn’t real enough. The finer points to this technology also showed up in more subtle parts of the story – when you ran past people in the street or fired a gun in public, the reactions were genuine and made the experience more realistic. Definitely a thumbs up there.

The face-capture technology in action...
The gameplay itself was good also, but I couldn’t help but think it felt a lot like GTA, but from the police’s perspective and set in the 1950’s. The traffic mechanisms, driving system and action sequences all seemed exactly like Rockstar’s GTA counterparts. Even the ridiculous things that the people who you hit with your car scream were the same rubbish – “You jackass”, “Mind the road” and “You could have killed somebody” were some examples. But the biggest fault of the game lay not in these trivialities but more so in the repetitiveness of some of the missions. True, the story was highly engaging and the cases you were faced with were generally interesting, but the means by which you found evidence and interviewed witnesses didn’t change and the whole shebang got fairly uninteresting for long periods of time during cases. But after the first six ‘cases’, I found this happened less and less and the game started to mix things around a bit.

Generally a truly wonderful experience, especially considering the perfectly executed 1950’s L.A. open world environment and the face recognition technology. The story was awesome, I loved interrogating people and the game didn’t baby you along – If you made a bad call, didn’t catch the criminal on the run or charged the wrong suspect, the story changed and you as a player had to face the consequences. This aspect particularly made the detective aspect of the gameplay more realistic and satisfying.

The Bottom Line: An original and well-executed story meets polished and engaging gameplay – with occasional flaws. A truly unique and fun game.


- Critter