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E3 Coverage Dominates Level Up

Plus We Review L.A. Noire

By Tim Janson     June 08, 2011


L.A. Noire
© Rockstar Games

 

Well it’s the biggest week in video games because its E3 week and Level Up is here with its biggest column yet with all of the major announcements from the show. It’s so big that one column won’t cover it all so we’ll be hitting you with another column in a couple of days with the rest of our E3 coverage including a look at Nintendo’s next console the Wii U. We’ve got a bunch of new game trailers for your viewing pleasure!
 
Because the week is so packed we’ve only got one review but it’s a Hell of a great game…Rockstar’s L.A. Noire which is one of the best games I’ve played in 2011. An incredible game that immerses you in 1947 Los Angeles.
 
Speaking of big, just check out next week’s slate of new releases and begin drooling…Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Alice Madness Returns, Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time for the 3Ds, and, after a 14 year wait it’s finally here…Duke Nukem Forever!
 
E3 NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
 
Activision Announces Call of Duty Elite
 
The world's most passionate online gaming community can now connect, compete and improve their Call of Duty multiplayer experience through Activision's innovative new online service, Call of Duty Elite.   Developed from the ground up by Activision's new Beachhead studio, Call of Duty Elite offers cutting-edge features that significantly enhance the franchises' multiplayer experience and deliver a new level of social engagement that will unite more than 30 million players worldwide.   Additionally, the service will offer exclusive, high-production value, original entertainment programming designed exclusively for the Call of Duty community.
 
Said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, "Whether it's allowing you to connect with your friends, or people of a similar skill level, people who live in your city, people who share your favorite passions, join competitive clans or social groups, or upload, view and comment on the incredible mass of player-generated content, or watch and comment on exclusive created content, Call of Duty Elite will give people more ways to connect with fellow players than ever before. Elite will also allow players of every level to improve their game with an intuitive suite of tools, and compete in tournaments for both real and virtual prizes."
 
Call of Duty Elite will include several industry-first innovations, and is designed to reset the bar for what players can expect from a multiplayer experience for this year's most anticipated game,  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.   Elite will offer two-way communication between the service and the game, so that the choices and decisions that players make in Elite through the mobile and web interfaces will affect their in-game experience.  The service will be fully integrated into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and will launch alongside the game on November 8, 2011.
 
Ubisoft goes back to its roots with Rayman Origins
 
“When the Glade of Dreams is overrun by “nefurrious” Darktoons, the Fairy Council hastily invokes Rayman to save the day; but the hero of light isn’t quite all there…To help him, Rayman teams up with his best friend, Globox, and two crafty wizards, the Teensies. Together, the world’s most hilarious team of heroes will need to restore peace to the Glade or watch as their beloved home vanishes like a bad dream...”Michel Ancel, celebrated creator of Rayman, Beyond Good & Evil and the Raving Rabbids returns to his roots to bring us Rayman Origins:  a high-definition, 2D side-scrolling, platforming adventure in full 4-player co-op.  Play Rayman Origins and discover or rediscover the magical universe and legendary 2D gameplay that captured the hearts of millions of fans.
 
Frogger Returns!
 
Just in time to mark the 30th anniversary of the original arcade release, the enduring classic Frogger is back criss-crossing busy streets, dodging perilous enemies from cars to crocodiles, and coming at gamers in 3D! Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced Frogger's timeless run-and-dodge gameplay is arriving this September for the new 3D-capable Nintendo 3DS system.  With all-new graphics, novel level design, and new friends to help guide Frogger to safety, skillful players will enjoy six new worlds to explore over 60 uniquely challenging stages. In Frogger 3D, Frogger ventures from the streets and sidewalks of his hometown to new and exotic locations including New York, the Far East, and even other dimensions.
 
First Trailer for The Darkness II released
 
Check out the first gameplay trailer from 2K’s The Darkness II
 

 
2K Announces new Sci-fi thriller X-Com
 
2K Games announced that XCOM, the intense sci-fi thriller in development at its 2K Marin studio, will be coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC on March 6, 2012 in North America .  XCOM is a gripping tactical action experience set in mid-century America , where the player leads an elite field team of specialized government agents into battle – combining deep, visceral gunplay with powerful sci-fi abilities. Together, they face a vicious and otherworldly enemy, who conspires to shatter our world and rebuild it in their own image.
 
“Every time I think of XCOM it gives me the chills, the kind that come from standing witness to the corruption and destruction of your world as you stand powerless to prevent it,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. “I’m pleased to announce today that we will be bringing this experience to an even broader audience when XCOM comes to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in March 2012.”  Check out the first trailer from E3! 
 

 
Ubisoft unveils new tracks for Rocksmith video game
 
Ubisoft unveils new tracks that players will be able to perform in Rocksmith, a new video game franchise that is set to revolutionize the music genre. Developed by Ubisoft, Rocksmith is the first and only game where players can plug any real guitar with a standard quarter-inch input jack into an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 3 or Windows PC, and play through profound library of music, including everything from the latest hits to classic rock songs.
 
New artists and songs being unveiled are:   
 
•    Best Coast – When I’m With You
•    Blur – Song 2
•    The Black Keys – Next Girl
•    The Boxer Rebellion – Step Out Of The Car
•    Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
•    The Cribs – We Share The Same Skies
•    The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
•    Jenny O – Well OK Honey
•    Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
•    Nirvana – Breed
•    Pixies – Where Is My Mind?
•    Radiohead – High and Dry
•    Red Fang – Number Thirteen
•    The Rolling Stones – The Spider and the Fly
•    Silversun Pickups – Panic Switch
•    Soundgarden - Outshined
•    Spoon – Me and The Bean
•    Stone Temple Pilots – Vasoline
•    Taddy Porter – Mean Bitch
•    Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union
•    White Denim – Burnished
•    The White Stripes – Icky Thump
•    Yellow Moon Band – Chimney
 
Activision’s E3 Slate Revealed
 
Activision has announced its key E3 offerings:
 
  • The blockbuster Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3, the most anticipated game of 2011.
 
  • Call of Duty Elite, an innovative online platform built from the ground up for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 that will unite and ignite more than 30 million Call of Duty players worldwide.
 
  • Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, an entertainment breakthrough that brings the world of toys, video games and the Internet together in an unprecedented way.
 
  • PROTOTYPE 2, the sequel to 2009's best-selling open-world action video game that continues the experience of becoming a deadly shape-shifting weapon, this time following the game's all-new protagonist Sgt. James Heller as he pursues his ultimate goal - to destroy Alex Mercer!
 
Activision announces Spider-Man Edge of Time at E3
 
Developed by Activision-owned studio Beenox, Spider-Man: Edge of Time challenges the player to take on the roles of both classic Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 to correct a timestream gone awry and prevent a catastrophic future brought on by the early and untimely death of Peter Parker.
 
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a focused, action-packed adventure set in two connected and evolving timelines, from the contemporary times of the Amazing Spider-Man to the corrupted future world of Spider-Man 2099, against the backdrop of a rich, tightly crafted narrative by acclaimed Marvel veteran Peter David (co-creator of the comic book series Spider-Man 2099).  The game features all-new "cause-and-effect" gameplay, where players will see how the immediate and sometimes unexpected effects of their actions as one Spider-Man changes the timeline of the other Spider-Man.  Spider-Man: Edge of Time is slated for release this fall.
 

 
Release date and new trailer for Dead Island
 

Deep Silver has announced that their long-awaited zombie game will finally be released on September 6th.  Check out the latest trailer just released at E3.
 
 
Ubisoft Announces Far Cry
 
Ubisoft announced the development of Far Cry 3, marking the return of the highly-acclaimed video game franchise. Far Cry 3 will be available for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 Windows PC in 2012.  With Far Cry 3, players step into the shoes of Jason Brody, a man alone at the edge of the world, stranded on a mysterious tropical island. In this savage paradise where lawlessness and violence are the only sure thing, players dictate how the story unfolds, from the battles they choose to fight to the allies or enemies they make along the way. As Jason Brody, players will slash, sneak, detonate and shoot their way across the island in a world that has lost all sense of right and wrong.  “Far Cry 3 brings something new and unexpected, while still building upon the foundations of excellence that are inherent to the Far Cry brand,” said Dan Hay, producer at Ubisoft Montréal. “Whether you’re already a fan of the Far Cry series or jumping into the franchise for the very first time, you’re going to be blown away by the gritty story and epic adventure we’re going to deliver.”
 
Ubisoft Announces Brothers in Arms Furious 4
 
Ubisoft unveiled the development of Brothers in Arms Furious 4 the latest iteration of the best-selling Brothers in Arms franchise that spins the series in a new direction. The game will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows® PC in the first half of calendar year 2012.  Set in World War II, Brothers in Arms Furious 4 is a brutal first person shooter that offers an exciting campaign mode playable with up to four players in co-op, as well as an extensive competitive multiplayer mode. The story follows four fierce and fearless warriors chasing the Führer himself. As one of the Furious 4, players will use special weaponry and unexpected combat abilities to fight the greatest threat the world has ever faced: an experimental Nazi army conceived in secret by the Third Reich.
 
“The Brothers in Arms franchise has been renowned for its gritty direction that has dropped players into the middle of World War II,” said Adam Novickas, U.S. director of marketing at Ubisoft.  “With Brothers in Arms Furious 4, Gearbox brings the action to a whole new level filled with unexpected twists and over-the-top battles that are sure to please new players and fans alike.”
 
First teaser trailer for BioShock Infinite
 

Here’s a look at the first teaser/trailer for BioShock Infinite from Irrational Games
 
 
 
Konami Announces Zombie Apocalypse 2
 
Konami has announced that Zombie Apocalypse 2 (working title), the follow up to 2009's smash-hit twin-stick action shooter, will be coming back this fall to the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade . Developed by Backbone Entertainment, Zombie Apocalypse 2 will take the chaos and pandemonium of the original to new heights as players fend off hordes of zombies and fight for survival in the series' latest installment.
 
In Zombie Apocalypse 2, four new unlikely heroes emerge and encounter yet another Apocalypse while on a reclusive island. Players will need to navigate through the island finding various ways to obliterate their zombie aggressors while keeping an eye out for any remaining human survivors. The end goal is to find a way off their island deathtrap, save who they can and do so without becoming one of the infected. To give players a fighting chance at survival, a new squad-based gameplay mechanic has been introduced, giving players full control of all the action whether they choose to play alone or with up to four players cooperatively. The game will also allow players to swap from one team member to the next as each team member will have his or her own set of weapons and abilities. It will become crucial for players to learn each hero's strengths and weaknesses if they're going to survive the night.
 
UTV Ignition Games announces Fractured Soul 3D for Nintendo 3DS
 
UTV Ignition Games today announced that Fractured Soul 3D is currently in development and will be available for Nintendo 3DS in early 2012.  A fast-paced action platform game, Fractured Soul 3D is an all-new IP that retains the familiarity of classic platformers, but adds a unique twist - it is played across both screens of the Nintendo 3DS at once. This unique feature forces players to switch between the two screens regularly to dodge incoming bullets, outsmart enemies, and ultimately complete each level. Additionally, the title features spectacular new 3D effects and other exclusive features.  In Fractured Soul 3D, players take on the role of interplanetary rogue, Jake DeSaul  - a man with a checkered and mysterious past who must confront his demons in his desperate plight to escape an eerie and malevolent space station. As they progress through each level, the boundaries between dream and reality continue to blur as Jake faces a lifetime of regrets, hopes, dreams, and what might have been in his efforts to reconcile himself with his past.
 
UTV Ignition Games announces Planet Crashers 3D for Nintendo 3DS
 
UTV Ignition Games today announced at E3 that Planet Crashers 3D is currently in development and will be available for Nintendo 3DS.  Based on the original Planet Crashers IP that is coming to mobile and browser-based platforms later this year, this Nintendo 3DS-specific version combines classic quest-oriented gameplay with light-hearted RPG combat. Planet Crashers 3D also introduces competitive multiplayer modes and endless character customization that freshens the beloved genre.  In Planet Crashers 3D players take on the role of a young space cadet who has recently graduated from the esteemed Planet Crashers Academy and is ready to take on his or her first assignment-and it's a real doozy.  Reports indicate that an unknown evil has emerged from a dark corner of the galaxy with plans to snuff out the sun! It's up to players to venture across the galaxy to prevent this unimaginable catastrophe from happening.  With its playful storyline, intriguing quests, head-to-head multiplayer mode and simple, intuitive gameplay that fully takes advantage of the Nintendo 3DS system, Planet Crashers 3D delivers a fun (and funky!) RPG adventure like never before. Developed by Texas-based Renegade Kid, Planet Crashers 3D is scheduled for release early next year.
 
Konami partners with Autumn Games on two new titles
 
Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. has once again partnered with Autumn Games to co-publish two of the rising publisher's previously announced upcoming titles, Skullgirls and Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine. Both games are set to release in 2011.  Skullgirls will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, while Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine iwill be available on Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
 
Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine will allow players to race in vehicles created from the most unlikely of everyday objects – from dumpsters to lawnmowers – fulfilling Jimmie's "Anything with an engine!" motto. Lead-footed drivers will engage in elimination-style circuits across progressively challenging tracks, complete with pyrotechnics-laden theatrical sets strewn with wicked hazards, traps and jumps. 
 
Skullgirls is a fast-paced 2D fighting game that puts players in control of fierce female warriors in an extraordinary Dark Deco world. From Autumn Games and Reverge Labs, Skullgirls uses advanced graphical technology to feature the unique art of Alex Ahad, whose work has appeared in Lava Punch, UDON's Tribute books, and Scott Pilgrim; in collaboration with renowned tournament champion Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont. Calling to mind old-school arcade fighters – with a high-definition twist – it's a one-of-a-kind, action-packed competition complete with awesome combos and an intriguing backstory. 
 
Konami Announces Beyblade Metal Masters for the DS
 
Konami announced that BEYBLADE Metal Masters will be coming to Nintendo DS handheld systems this fall. BEYBLADE Metal Masters allows players the ability to customize their own Beyblade spinning tops as they take on 37 different characters from the TV series. The premise of the game is similar to that of the Beyblade toys, where the winner is decided in a last-man standing competition. Players will need to time their attacks to send their opponent out of the arena all while keeping their Beyblade tops spinning at all times.   Everything about BEYBLADE Metal Masters has been designed to keep the controls simple, yet offers the many tactical strategies the popular series affords. Players send their Beyblade into battle and can also add combination attacks via a series of button presses. Key attacks from the TV series have been faithfully recreated, allowing users to perform the 'Pegasus' diving attack to smash into opposition units, and the game also features spectacular finishing moves to earn victory with finesse.
 
 
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
 
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo) 3DS
 
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a must-have single player Action-Adventure game for the Nintendo 3DS. A reimagining of the original Nintendo 64 classic, the game features the full original game graphically overhauled in the glasses-free 3D made possible by the Nintendo 3DS. Along with this, the game includes all-new new challenges unique to this release, including a master quest, a new Boss Challenge mode that allows for flexibility in how you face bosses and in-game video segments.
 
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D takes the best-reviewed game of all-time for a brand-new experience. Now in 3D, all of the graphic textures and colors have been vastly improved, taking advantage of the considerable graphic power of the Nintendo 3DS system. This game tells the epic story of Hyrule and Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf in remarkable depth and gives context to the many tales of their struggles. As such, this title represents a perfect entry point for players new to the Zelda franchise.  Beyond even the incredible 3D effect, every graphic texture and character model has been lovingly built from the ground up to create the most dynamic and vivid vision of Zelda's kingdom yet. This is Hyrule as you've always imagined it.
 
Link needs to play the eponymous Ocarina of Time many, many times over the course of the game. This involves a specific series of button presses to play one of the twelve songs in the game. In the original title, you would need to assign the ocarina to an item slot, then likely review the button prompts to your song, then play them from memory. The Nintendo 3DS version has the ocarina constantly available on the Touch Screen, and playing with the button prompts for each song right in front of you.
 
Duke Nukem Forever (2K Games) Rated M  PS3, Xbox 360, PC
 
Duke Nukem Forever is a First-Person Shooter (FPS) that finally resurrects the infamous Duke Nukem franchise. Designed as a blend of the over-the-top ego, humor, risqué scenarios and UN-PC attitude that players of the original 1990s PC game releases will still relish, with for technological upgrades that modern gamers demand, Duke is definitely back and better than ever. Features include: a gameworld full of interactive opportunities; over-the-top humor; outlandish settings, vehicle driving, and puzzle solving; Duke specific multiplayer modes and more.
 
Did the Alien bastards not learn their lesson the first time? Duke has been on hiatus for some time now, kicking back and franchising himself on the fame he gained from saving Earth from the first invasion. The Aliens have returned to Earth yet again, messing up Duke's sweet routine of dirty leisure habits. The Alien invaders are stealing Earth's women, especially the hot ones! And they drank Duke's beer. This-Won't-Stand. As Duke battles his way through waves of aliens, the once beautiful gambling haven and Duke Nukem franchise chains are crumbling before his eyes. Time to bring the pain.  Duke Nukem returns to kick alien butt, indulge in his infamous vices and save the world, again.
 
Duke Nukem is one of the biggest and most recognizable brands in gaming history. Irreverent, UN-PC, and uber-Macho, Duke Nukem is the perfect antidote to the overdose of today's clichéd gaming archetypes. The game's cocktail of alien invasion, busty babes, bawdy comedy and big guns never gets old. The highly anticipated Duke Nukem Forever is a celebration of what video games are really about: an out loud good time. The game is huge, with hours and hours of over-the-top single player action, and a range of bodacious multiplayer modes like Duke Match, Capture the Babe and Hail to the king, players can rest assured knowing that the fun will last.
 
Alice: Madness Returns (Electronic Arts) Rated M  PS3, Xbox 360, PC
 
Alice: Madness Returns is an Action-Adventure game that delves deep into the dark and violent side of the imagination, creating a nightmarish Wonderland where Alice must face the demons that haunt her visions. Visit the grim reality of Victorian London and then travel to the beautiful yet ghastly Wonderland to uncover the root of Alice 's madness and discover the truth behind a deadly secret, kept hidden for years. Features include: upgradable melee weapons and magic abilities, a shattered gameword filled with altered versions of Lewis Carroll's famous characters and intuitive and rewarding puzzle play.  Eleven years ago a horrific fire took Alice 's family from her and left her mind horrifically scarred. Afterwards she was confined to Rutledge Asylum where she struggled to confront her demons by slipping slipping further into her fantasy world of Wonderland. Now, after ten years, she has finally secured her release - yet she still bears the heavy psychological burden of that tragic event.
 
With her mind in tatters, she is unable to resolve the fear prompted by her strange memories, dreams, and visions. Perhaps she'll do better in Wonderland. She always has. She travels there, seeking what the "real" world can't provide: security, knowledge, and the truth about the past. But in her absence, Wonderland too has suffered. Something has gone horribly wrong, and now a great evil is descending upon what once was her beautiful refuge. Can Alice save Wonderland -- and herself -- from the madness that consumes them both?
 

 
Child of Eden (Ubisoft)  Rated E  Xbox 360
 
Children of Eden is a unique rail shooter that incorporates fast-paced action, music and the controller free gameplay of the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor. With the Kinect Sensor players can aim with their hands, as well as change weapons at will as they eliminate objects that zip towards them in a variety of environment and game levels. Additional features include, compatibility with the standard Xbox 360 wireless controller.  Child of Eden is the "multi-sensory shooter" that will send players diving into a kaleidoscopic matrix of synchronized music and mind-blowing visuals that will usher forth yet another landmark game experience from the mind of renowned game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, its creator.  Child of Eden thrusts you in the center of a battle to save Project Lumi, a mission to reproduce a human personality inside Eden , the archive of all human memories. As the project nears completion, the archive is invaded by an unknown virus. The Player's mission is to purify Eden from the virus to restore hope and peace.
 
Wipeout in the Zone  (Activision)  Rated E Xbox 360
 
Wipeout: In the Zone is a Party game exclusive for Xbox 360 that utilizes the full body tracking capabilities of the Kinect Sensor for Xbox 360 (required for play) to bring the over-the-top, physical obstacle course fun of the hit television show Wipeout to life on your game console like you never thought possible. Features include: local 4-person multiplayer support, unlockable characters and brand new episodes, replay functionality and the ability to use your Xbox LIVE avatars in-game.  For those of you who ever watched Wipeout, the crazy obstacle course game show on ABC, and thought, "I want to do that, but without the mud, injuries, or public humiliation," now you can with Wipeout: in the Zone exclusively for Xbox 360. Unlike an earlier Wipeout video game, Wipeout: in the Zone takes the action way-way further, utilizing the Kinect sensor for Xbox 360 for full body motion control to accurately simulate the game show's iconic obstacle course. A unique use of Kinect technology, in Wipeout: in the Zone players jump across more than 50 obstacles, including the Big Balls and the Smack Wall Sweeper. The game also features commentary from the TV show's hosts: John Anderson, John Henson and Jill Wagner.
 
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Activision) Rated T PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, 3DS, Wii
 
It has been three years since megatron and the decepticons last threatened the world. Earth's leaders believe that megatron has fled the planet in defeat but optimus prime knows better. An alien transmission is intercepted, exposing megatron's plan to spread chaos and fear among the humans and unleash the ultimate decpticon assassin shockwave: the autobots mush hunt megatron, neutralize shockwave, and save their new home from total destruction at the hands of the decepticons. 
 
Record of Agarest War Zero (Aksys) Rated T  PS3, Xbox 360
 
Record of Agarest War Zero is a single player, turn-based Strategic RPG. A prequel set 1,000 years before the original Record of Agarest War game, Record of Agarest War Zero features the return of the multi-generational Soul-Breeding system, the new Free Intention system, which influences your relationship with game heroines, new skills by way of a new card system and more.  Long before Summerill and the gods of darkness were defeated in Record of Agarest War, another battle was fought across generations to save the world from evil. Record of Agarest War Zero takes you back to that ancient time… The war between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, a conflict already many years old, has been fought to a stalemate. In the nation of Kraltarla, the forces of light hold back the evil hordes of darkness spilling from Findeste at the Scarred Mountains , but only just. In a desperate attempt to gain an advantage that could change the course of the war, the generals of the armies of light dispatch their loyal servant Sieghart, whom fate has seen fit to grant a strange and awesome power. Sieghart's mission takes him across Kraltarla to gather the components for a magical tool that can free the imprisoned blacksmith of the gods, so that he might forge magical artifacts of great and terrible power for the forces of light.
 
Cubic Ninja (Ubisoft) Rated E, 3DS
 
Introducing Cubic Ninja, the Nintendo 3DS title that lets you play without ever touching a button. Simply tilt and turn your Nintendo 3DS to solve challenging puzzles, outwit devious enemies, and escape intricate traps. Cubic Ninja places you in the role of CC, a brave little ninja with a distinctly cubic shape. The princess of your beloved kingdom has been abducted. And it's up to you to save them. If you have to tumble till you're dizzy, or survive raging waters just to rescue the princess, then you will. Because you're Cubic Ninja. And that's how you roll.
 
REVIEWS
 
L.A. Noire (Rockstar) Rated M Reviewed on the Playstation 3
 
There are those that have said that L.A. Noire doesn’t have enough action in it...boo hoo get over it. L.A. Noire is exactly the kind of game the videogame has needed for a long time. This isn’t a game geared towards trigger-happy, attention span deficit dullards. We’ve got plenty of those games to go around. No, here we have a game clearly aimed at a more mature player who wishes to play a game that relies more on thinking and less than quick reflexes. The Film Noire setting is a bold step to take by Rockstar. While there were hundreds of films of this type made in the 1940s and 1950s, it’s a genre that gets little play in the more modern era, with 1974’s Chinatown and 1997’s L.A. Confidential being two of the best examples. This was a period of tough but flawed cops, dangerous femme fatales, small-time hoods and major gang bosses, and L.A. Noire captures the era perfectly.
 
You play the game as Detective Cole Phelps, a World War II hero who has joined the L.A. Police force. Immediately you are stung by derision by some of your fellow officers who make assumptions about your character because you were a decorated war veteran. Phelps gets his start in the traffic division and no, despite the terminology you won’t be pulling over cars to issue them speeding tickets. You’re investigating crimes such as an abandoned car that is filled with blood and another involving a deadly hit-and-run. Your partner is there to lean on if you’re not sure how to proceed but its up to you to investigate the clue at the crime scene. Walk around exploring and the soundtrack will give a musical cue when you are close to an item of interest. You can then examine the item more closely, turning it all around. If its important, you’ll have a clue such as a name or location added to your log book. Once you have found all the clues at a given crime scene, the music will indicate it by fading away completely. 
 
The next step in your investigation is typically interviewing suspects or persons of interest. This is one of the areas where the gameplay truly shines. When a suspect gives an answer you have the option of guessing if he/she is being truthful or you can doubt their answer, or you can outright accuse them of lying. Observe them as they answer…watch their eyes and their body language. Do they shift uncomfortably? Do they avert their eyes? These are usually telltale signs they are being less than truthful. As you progress in rank you can earn intuition points. These points can be used to help determine the suspect’s truthfulness by eliminating one of the choices, giving you a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly, or you can see how the rest of the player community answered the question in terms of a percentage of the three possible choices. Intuition can also be used at crime scenes to show all of the clues on your mini-map. 
 

Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire picture

In addition to the case you are assigned to, you’ll also encounter a variety of street crimes as you drive around town. You can choose to respond to these or not. The crimes are varied and include events like responding to a hold-up in progress, a gang shootout, a possible suicide jumper, even a mentally disturbed citizen who beats up his neighbor because he thinks the neighbor sent cosmic waves into his head. Phelps and his partners end up in LOTS of shootouts both in the regular cases and random street crimes. The shootouts are easier perhaps than they should be and thus you never get the feeling that you are truly in danger. You’ll also find your self in a number of chases on foot and in vehicles. Sometimes you have to tail a suspect and be sure not to get too close. If they see you the mission is over and you have to try it again. The controls whether shooting, running, driving, or laying the smack down with your fists are all simple and smooth. Some of the most exciting chases involve racing and jumping across rooftops to apprehend a suspect. Oh…it may not be Call of Duty but there’s plenty of action in L.A. Noire! 
 
Phelps works his way up the latter of success graduating on to other divisions like vice and homicide. The game’s greatest strength lies in totally immersing you into the era of 1947 Los Angeles . The architecture (including well known buildings and landmarks), the cars, the clothing, the music are spot on. Even that classic tough guy jargon is perfect. The chapter titles look exactly like the type of title cards you’d see in these old films. You can even play the game in black and white for an even more authentic cinematic experience. Rockstar and Team Bondi utilized a new technology called MotionScan which renders the most realistic looking character models ever seen in a videogame, capturing every blink of the eyes and every facial expression. But what really catches your eye is that L.A. Noire uses many well-known actors in its roles. You’ll suddenly see a face you recognize because the facial models are so well done. Aaron Staton of TV’s “Mad men” plays Cole Phelps. You’ll also recognize actors like Daniel Roebuck (Lost), Greg Grunberg (Heroes), John Noble (Fringe), and Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn) in key roles in the game.  
 
Despite being based on Film Noire, the game isn’t always black and white. Some investigations will leave a seed of doubt in your mind even though all of the evidence seems to add up. Just like those great films L.A. Noire unveils itself in many shades of gray. While the action elements are simplistic the game’s story sucks you in to its dark, seedy world. The best thing I can say about L.A. Noire is that it kept me fully entertained from beginning to end. I would have to put this in the Top 5 games I've played in 2011. Hopefully we will see many more games like this in the future. Grade A

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 8 of 8
1 
TheMovieGuy28 6/9/2011 12:53:43 AM

With kinects new finger tracking, I'm tellin ya, they need to bust out a 3D game based on the engine of little big planet, and turn it into a musical floating rubix cube dj hero/rock band type of thing. build your own musical puzzles that get put together in floating air, and you build the track by having the puzzles come together....

I had this idea a few years ago when I found those early VR nintendo Wii vids on youtube, and then recently it popped back in my head when I was at the movies and saw the commercial for the eric clapton layla song and how the guy broke down all the sounds then brought together. I thought to myself "that's exactly what it should look like, only with more manipulation and in 3D", and with the LBP engine, the possibilities of what your soundcube would look like would be epic. Post those things online and the more difficult the puzzle, the more in depth the song.

Shet would be tight.

Walker 6/9/2011 4:55:45 AM

 The complaint is not that L.A. Noire doesn't have enough action.  The complaint is that it does not have enough gameplay.  Finding evidence is glorified pixel hunting, and and the investigations are right-or-wrong with no replay value.

My wife and I were really excited to get this game, but have not been able to bring ourselves to finish it.

jedibanner 6/9/2011 6:17:19 AM

Great stuff coming up, for me, Dead Island, Batman Arkham City and COD MW3 are the games I'm looking forward the most. Maybe Duke Nukem 3 but...will wait and see the reviews first.

L.A. Noir is just a great game and fun, it's interesting to try and really be a cop and see if people are lying or not and finding some clues and stuff. The only problem I have with it is the driving...I always get around 1K$  worth of damages.

 

acidsquall73 6/9/2011 9:13:46 AM

Bioshock Infinite looks badass as hell. Those games didn't disappoint me at all, and this one looks just as good. Curious if they're at least going to tie in to the existing games somehow since timewise, this takes place many years before them. 

Dead Island looks like a definite winner, as does Alice. I'm still worried about MW3. The single-player campaign has to be longer than MW2. That was a real disappointment for me.

tjanson 6/9/2011 9:42:31 AM

Acid...good point.  The problem with a lot of the FPS is that their almost completely designed for online play.  I'm really looking forward to Battlefield 3 myself

celt_6@yahoo.com_home 6/9/2011 3:13:27 PM

I'm really disappointed that X-com is an FPS (even worse, that it looks like a CRAPPY FPS).  I am still a HUGE fan of the old turn-based, squad/tactical game, investigating crash sites and alien bases, researching alien tech and new gear for your teams.  That game was EPIC back in the 90s, and it's still a lot of fun.  I have no idea what this new FPS will be like, but it is clearly nothing to do with the old games, and that is really depressing.  Definitely removing this from the Amazon Wishlist.

The good news is that I am very excited for the upcoming Batman: Arkham City and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.

I think I might have to pick up L.A. Noire in the meantime.  It looks and sounds like an amazing, original experience.

celt_6@yahoo.com_home 6/9/2011 3:14:22 PM

BTW, Tim, if you can see your way through to getting us any info on Arkham City or Space Marine, I would be MUCH obliged!

tjanson 6/9/2011 6:35:02 PM

celt...as soon as I have anything it will be here!  I agree about Xcom.  For all the technology in games today there's a real lack of variety of games.  Too many Call of Duty and God of War clones.  I used to love playing turn-based war games on the PC but you rarely see any turn-based games on consoles....I think developers are missing out on a huge demographic.

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