Monday, June 13, 2011

Losertext Review: L.A. Noire

What’s up guys, S.F. here bringing you another wonderful Losercast…or Losertext in this case? I’ve been working on some new ideas for the blog so in the meantime thought I’d type out a review for one of the games that has been soaking up so much of my time lately. L.A. Noire…or Rockstar’s penance for the sins of the GTA and Manhunt games they are so famous for as I’d like to call it. This game released about a month ago which means I’m actually reviewing a newer release. OMG!!! A relevant game review; say it isn’t so!

This game places you into the shoes of Detective Cole Phelps of the LAPD during the late 1940s and early 50s. Your mission is simple, clean up this town one case at a time. As you progress through the game you will work a wide variety of cases as you progress through 4 different desks; Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson all await your detective skills. Each case starts up the same you watch a cutscene showing the crime, then a cutscene showing the case being given to you and you’re A.I. controlled partner (sorry no co-op in this one), and then you are off to the crime scene.

Upon arriving at the crime scene you will be briefed by other policemen and the coroner if available and begin one of the biggest aspects of the game, investigation. You will walk around the scene of the crime, or places on interest later on, and look for clues to establish who the criminal is. This essentially boils down to a scavenger hunt with you holding onto your controller waiting for it to vibrate. When your controller vibrates it means you have found an inspect-able item and Cole will pick it up and take a look at it. Now most of the time this will lead to a clue being added to your notebook for future reference, but other times it will lead to it being a piece of trash, Cole will smart off how it isn’t needed, and you will waste your time. I understand having some of these items in the game to throw you off, especially if you turn off the vibrations, but if I’m in a kitchen investigating, I do not want to pick up the wooden fork and ladle that aren’t covered in blood. Also while in an area with clues still to be found music will play, when you find all the clues it goes all Legend of Zelda and stops letting you know to ignore any other vibrations and move on.

This leads to probably the most important part of the game the interrogations. Here you really get to see the graphics budget at work if you didn’t already. When questioning someone their faces move in a very lifelike manner. This is due to Rockstar utilizing MotionScan technology which places 32 HD cameras around the actors as they deliver their lines in order to capture even the most subtle of movements. After asking someone a question you will be asked to decide if they are telling the truth, are lying and you have proof to validate your claims, or if you doubt them which is essentially saying “you’re lying, but I can’t prove it”. Making the correct choice will give you more information and open new line of questioning, while making the wrong choice can close venues of questioning and make your job harder.

To help you though are intuition points which are earned as you rank up in the game, these points serve one of three purposes. They can remove a wrong choice from a line of questioning, allow you to reveal all remaining clues in the area you are currently in, or ask the community which choice they picked. You can have up to 5 of these stored up at a time, for the most part are very useful when in a tough situation.

After questioning a few people you might find yourself in a hostile situation. Enter the 3rd aspect combat. I know combat taking a backseat in a Rockstar game it sounds crazy, but hear me out. When engaging suspects its either by foot, car, with your fists, or with a gun. The first two are pretty standard you chase the suspect down and bring him in. The 3rd is a pretty standard punch out setup. Finally the gun play is…shallow, with a much smaller arsenal of guns as in other games you will mainly be using your pistol. If you are able to go back to your squad car you can get a shotgun or Tommy gun (if you get the free DLC) for a little more punch. The games uses the GTA 4 cover based combat controls, and you will need it as you can only take few bullets before everything goes all black and white.

The variety of the cases is what makes this game unique, as each desk provides new challenges, a new partner, and a new story. The lack of a morality system might be a turn off for some people, but I like it here. You are supposed to be the good cop righting the wrongs, not a crocked cop trying to bring the city farther down. The MotionScan technology is nice and the city is bright and detailed. Though it isn’t the prettiest game out right now it still looks good even if just for the MotionScan faces.

That being said this game is touted as an open-world game…which it is NOT!!! The fact is while you can drive around the city there isn’t anything to do. Most Rockstar open-world games have a variety of side quests to do if you get bored with the main story. All there are in L.A. Noire aside from the main story cases are Street Crimes which are just smaller cases that all normally lead to a gun fight, and collectible hunting. Golden film reels, landmarks, and the 95 different cars of the street all are ready for you to collect. If there isn’t anything to do why roam the city there is no point. It feels very shackled down with the game almost saying, “Ok drive around you WILL do this case eventually.”

In the end this is a great game that pushes the run-and-gun style of GTA to the back burner and forces gamers to actually think like a detective. With a good sound track of jazz, some great actors behind the characters and cases that will make you want to play again not just to improve your rating on the case, but just in case you missed some new line of dialogue. L.A. Noire fills the unknown void of a great detective game in this generation. It just feels a little shallow with very little to do besides the cases. I look forward to the slew of DLC this game will have for it just to see what else Rockstar has cooked up for this start of a few franchise.

L.A. Noire earned itself an 8/10.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Portable Loser #1


So Tigersclaw, my resident artist, has decided to step up and do some portable game reviews. To start this new section off he does Pokemon Black/White. I added a few of my own comments in, but this is all T.C. Enjoy!

Pokemon Black & White Review

Brought to you by Loser’s Guide to Life

Well here we are with another Loser’s Guide to Life video game review. I’ll start off by pointing out this is not S. F. This is tigersclaw69, tigersclaw91, or drewid whatever you want to call me. Ok let’s get started.

Just to note, for now, my format will be similar to S.F’s.

Pokemon Black & White

Now more than likely if you’re a gamer you’ve at least heard of a Pokémon game. No you say? Well as surprising as that is you’re in luck, because today I’m going to do a rundown review of the newest generation of the Pokémon games with a look back at some of the previous titles.

First off for those of us who don’t know Pokemon Black & White are the sister titles of the fifth generation of the Pokémon games. Every generation before has always had two sister titles and usually a special version and some spinoffs with it, but enough about the good ol’ days. Oh they were good… (S.F. Comment: That they were…)

Like the games before, Black and White are virtually the same games with minute differences. Each has certain Pokémon only available to each game, as well as an entire town/city/ (forest?) exclusive to the title. Pokemon Black is home to Black City and allows the player to capture the legendary Pokémon Reshiram while Pokemon White lets you get lost in White Forest and capture Zekrom.

The big selling point for this game to me was that the story is far more engaging than in previous titles. As you travel from city to city you actively interact with the Gym Leaders and battle against Team Plasma (S.F.: Comment: Team Rocket, Magma, Galactic, Aqua, and now Plasma…at least the bad guy’s keep their names original.) on a regular basis, but more on that aspect later.


Pokemon Black & White*

Published by Nintendo

Developed by Game Freak

Available for any DS, Dsi, and 3DS

Definitely a Role Playing Game

US release date was March 6th, 2011

*Though the games are virtually the same I’ll be specifically be pointing out elements of Pokemon Black.

Story: You play a teenager, girl or boy your choice, that is given a monumental task to record information on every Pokémon in existence, but that’s probably too technical. You and your friends are given your first Pokémon as a gift from Pokémon expert Professor Juniper (S.F. Comment: Oak, Elm, Birch hey we have pattern here don’t we). Hey it’s just like every other Pokémon game! Anyways she also gives you a Pokedex that lets you record information on new species of Pokémon you encounter. Pretty standard Pokémon stuff, but what makes it different is this time you have two rivals; Cheren, the kind of a dusch bag rival, and Bianca the airhead. Cheren will always choose the Pokémon with the stronger type then you, Bianca will take the type weaker than yours.

So without trying to spoil much I’ll just give a quick summary of the actual story before delving into the actual gameplay and features that everyone cares about. You have eight gym leaders to fight just like every other Pokémon game. Once you have beaten them all you can challenge the elite four and the champion. Along the way you run into Team Plasma who seems like a Pokémon version of PETA. Although Team Plasma is rather hypocritical, they are trying to force trainers to release their Pokémon, yet they use their own Pokémon to do this. Oh well if you play it you’ll learn more.

Pokemon Black tries to mix it up from the previous games. The first gym leader is three people. The one you challenge depends on your starter; if you choose the fire starter you get to fight the water gym leader… sounds hard right? No not really, if you follow the games advice and go to the Dreamyard east of the town a girl will give you a special monkey Pokémon. The monkey Pokémon is one of three Pokémon either a fire, water, or grass monkey. The one you get is the weaker type from your starter, which is a stronger type than the gym leader and your rival (S.F. Comment: So they hand you the Pokemon that will trump all opposition for the first city in the game…oversimplification go!). Just level the monkey a little and you can smash the gym leader and be on your way. The elite four is structured differently this time around. Instead of fighting each one in a specific order you can choose which of the four to fight in any order you wish.

Something to note about this game unlike the previous titles is that during the main story there is no use of any of the previous generations of Pokemon. But once you’ve completed the main story and start to challenge the new trainers they start throwing nearly everything at you. One of the faults I found after completing the main story though was that there is about a 15 level gap between what you need to beat the league and the trainers of the new areas. Unless you have a strong party from previous games like Pearl/Diamond/Platinum/HeartGold/SoulSilver, which you can now transfer over, you’re in for a grind to catch up.

Once this gap has been cleared you’ll find there is a plethora of end game content with plenty of ways to level up your Pokemon and challenge the now stronger elite four. Daily events like the sports arenas, cruise ship, challenging the riches family, and giving your rival his daily ass kicking make it very easy to level up your Pokemon. The sports arenas have anywhere from 6 to 10 trainers and always two double battles each. The cruise ship will have 3 to 7 trainers depending on the day. All the Pokemon from these events are between level 62 and 67. Though I wish they still had the gym leader rematch system from Heartgold and Soulsilver but these new systems do the job well enough.

With over 600 Pokemon to capture, and train if you please, the games have plenty of ways to eat away the days of your life. I’m sitting at around 55 hours now with the elite four beaten the second time and there is still plenty I want to do.


Playability: 9/10

The controls are smooth and easy to learn. The touch screen is integrated nicely without being a requirement to use. I recommend using the stylus when doing any kind of sorting in your Pokemon boxes.

Graphics: 7/10

For a Pokemon game they’re these are the best graphics yet. New three dimensional aspects make some areas very interesting. But frankly I’ve seen several games with better graphics than these games. Personally this doesn’t bother me but hey I’m doing a review so I need to be critical. One neat thing that was a big plus is that when a Pokemon is asleep their eyes actually close. They also move around during battles making them feel more alive and animated.

Length/Replability: 10/10

The main story feels long enough and keeps you engaged while playing. After beating the main game the scope only gets larger with hundreds of hours’ worth of things to do.

Sound: 7/10

Many Pokemon still make annoying noises and many areas still have annoying background and battle music. On the other side of the coin many of the exciting story battles and gym leaders have very good music behind them. I still hate bicycle music! (S.F. Comment: You and me both brother!)

Overall: 9/10

This game has proven Pokemon games are only getting better as time goes on. Amazing depth, gameplay, and surprisingly good balance keep the Pokemon craze alive around the world. If you’re into roleplaying games, fun multiplayer aspects, and collecting destructive monsters these are your games. Buy one or both the choice is yours; both offer a great game at a great price.