Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Playlist – 6/16/2012

The Playlist is a feature I wanted to do for some time now, and with the summer drought of games starting soon (the last big release until August is Spec Ops: The Line which comes out on June 26), you’ll see on Monday why this is the perfect time to introduce this. The Playlist is a new weekend feature that will run every Saturday (or as often as I can) and cover the games I played over the last week. It won’t be a review of the games, but just a quick summary of what I’m doing, or small thoughts or nuances of the games. It will also highlight any sales for the coming week. Between the Steam summer sale and the holiday release schedule coming up, deals on games will be popping up faster than you think. With that, here is what I played this week.

LA Noire

I finally finished LA Noire, and while I didn’t find as many problems with it as others, the ending left me a bit unsatisfied. Maybe that is the point, as it does fill that noire narrative, but I can attest to the ridiculousness of the flamethrower in the last level. After playing through several times and failing, I purposely avoided picking up the flamethrower (because once you pick it up, you can’t put it down or switch to a different weapon) because it’s range was too short to be useful. I do see the irony in saying the game feels like two different developers worked on the game, as the first half of the game plays like a TV series, with each case being self-contained and not much crossover. The second half, however, starting at Vice, ties together all of the cases until the very end of the game, even to the point where in some cases you play as someone other than Detective Cole Phelps, Badge no. 1247. I agree to the testament that this is an adventure game with open-world elements, and not Grand Theft Auto 1947.

Max Payne 3

I don’t know if I can say enough good things about Max Payne 3. It is hands-down the single best optimized PC game I’ve ever played. The story is heavy with depression and loss, a theme familiar to the Max Payne series. Some have balked at the absence of noir that was prevalent in Max Payne 1 and 2, but to me it feels like a different kind of noir; murder under the sun rather than corruption in the dark city. There’s a thick comparison to Man on Fire, which is fine because it follows the narrative and style so well. It’s kind of the same notion that people talked about Darksiders in comparison to The Legend of Zelda: If you’re going draw inspiration from something that it begs comparison, you better have that inspiration in tip-top shape, otherwise it’s just a bad rip-off. Max Payne 3 doesn’t do that. It has the best shooting of any Rockstar game, the physics are dynamic enough to feel the impact when Max shoot-dodges into a wall, and the voice-over and writing is as top-notch as either of the previous games. Max Payne 3 is worthy of the name.


My computer can run Crysis, though, in Direct X 10, which makes it hard to judge against other great-looking games since Direct X 10 does some wonky stuff by capping framerates with anti-aliasing and vsync turned on. Nonetheless, it was fun to step into 2007 and see what the future of was back then. I can see why Crytek streamlined some options in Crysis 2 with shortcuts to suit functions and making a more focused game. Crysis is a sandbox, but it seems to wear the title of ‘here is how this sandbox looks’ rather than ‘here is all this stuff you can do in this sandbox.’ The vibe I had during most of the game was that it felt like the first Predator movie. I snuck through the jungle, cloaking my way behind enemy lines, taking down enemies one at a time and making sure I wasn’t seen. But there comes a point about three-fourths of the way through the game that that dynamic changes. The best way to describe it without giving it away is instead of a silenced assault rifle, you use a minigun. I’m actually looking forward to playing Crysis 2 and experiencing its more focused gameplay. I hope it gives me the vibe of Predator 2, the feel of making my way through a concrete jungle. With Crysis 3 coming next year, does that mean Predator 3 will take place inside a dome?

Game Deals

The Secret World (PC) July 3 – Amazon has this at $49.99, which isn’t much of a deal, but you get an additional $10 in Amazon credit towards other games, as well as access to this weekend’s beta event and the next beta weekend running from June 22 to June 24.

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