Wednesday, 27 March 2013

L.A. Noire review

The game is an action adventure, a blend of mission puzzles (cases) solving and combat / shooter.
It was released for PS, Xbox and PC.

The best of the game are the story and characters built and the technical built. And it’s not just the authentic air of the 40’s (action take place in L.A. year 1947), one of the coolest things is the motion capture feature that offers the opportunity to analyze the facial expressions during the interrogation – a must in solving the cases. 
Also add to this very good VOs and sounds and excellent music (a thing that becomes a rarity in these days judging by the latest games I played).
Now to get into the story: play as rookie patrolman named Phelps and develop his career inside the Police to Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson bureaus. Start with a serial killer, drugs trade, and a small insurance fraud to end following a big fraud case with many roots (the Mob, the corrupt policemen, businessmen and dignitaries).
You will be assigned with various cases to solve and will have a different partner on each bureau, while the story is revealed through clues found on cases, and newspaper cut-scenes info and memory flash-backs. Along with the main cases there also 40 side ones, not connected with them. After solving the cases you are evaluated and ranked 1 to 5 stars according to your performance for each case.
The side cases (Streets of L.A. mode), are unlocked after finishing activity on a bureau, and gives you the chance to hunt for badges and gold film reels. Also you will earn experience that brings intuition points and may also bring a new suit. There 10 suits, each gifted with special powers (like increasing shots accuracy or damage resistance), 6 in the main game and 4 in the side cases.
The control and going through is a mix of adventure like style while you walk through the scenery, interact with items, drive cars and talk and interrogate suspects, but also involves action play with body-combat and gun shots. Action sequences offers three attempts and if you fail all you may skip.
The interrogation is puzzle solving, clues based, and you get to believe, doubt or to not believe the suspects, but to prove the lies and accuse of crime you need evidence (notes on clues in your notebook). You may use the earned intuition points to eliminate one of the 3 options and also in the crime scenes to search for clues.
As said the game has an excellent noir atmosphere with a great attention to the details, from the people expressions to the items and scenery interaction, it is very catchy and clever done, and quite challenging. There is a bit of a certain clumsiness during the action scenes but a minor no-no.
A definitely worth playing game.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Bridge - indie platformer puzzle

A puzzle platformer game that goes on the warm area especially when it comes to the going through.
Clever idea but looks very much unfinished and not enough polished. 
There isn't a basic story in game as you start with the character sleeping under a tree and waking him up by throwing an apple onto his head. 

After that the action moves in the character's house, a weird non-sense labyrinth, with a very intricate non-logic complex design. The goal of the game is to get the character through each section of the house self-contained worlds. 
Basically is to go from point A to point B - the exit door, which in some levels is locked, so also requires getting one or more keys. 
The interesting part is in the way you manipulate the environment by tilting / rotating the world left side or right side and changing the way the gravity acts. That combines with also moving the character left or right. 
The odd design with tricky spots where you can fall out of the world, or get stuck is complicated time to time by some menacing balls with teeth which kills you at the slightest touch. So solving some levels goes on a very tricky combo of movements to acquire the key (or keys), avoid the ball and don't fall outside the labyrinth and being killed. 
The help comes in form of the ability to rewind the time / movements, back to a safe position. 
Sounds good but unfortunately the going through is not only repetitive, up to the point of becoming boring, but also is more of a try everything than plotting a strategy. Especially because in some places it's hard to anticipate where exactly your movements will end. It's like Chrono Disfunglement in concept but I liked that one more as was involving more strategic thinking than this one.
The graphics are sketchy charcoal like but with an appealing concept of the scenery. Sounds are ok. 
Overall as said very good, clever idea, but not enough of a gameplay, and not the catchy challenging sort. Rating goes to 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams - review

Ok this is a 2012 game but worth playing. A very well made platformer Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams project successfully funded on Kickstarter and a sequel of the Great Giana Sisters (from the 80's).

But this one is a very up to date well crafted HD graphics modern mechanics play.
Story goes as Giana and Maria are lost in Giana's dream world (or should I say worlds) and Maria gets lost. So you play as Giana to save her. The most interesting clever catchy thing of the game is the dual world concept. The game goes on two worlds that can and has to be switched in game in order to progress with the tasks.
One world is a cute pinkish fairy tale like world and the other one is a dark twisted nightmare full of monsters. The funny thing is that Giana also has a dual personality each one with her own abilities.
The "nice princess" "Cute" Giana plays in the nightmare world and the "bad girl" "Punk" Giana goes in the pink world. The Cute one is a ballerina with flowing movements, dances and has the ability to glide though the air, while the Punk one is the fighter. 
The world levels are very extended allowing you loads of exploring and treasure hunting, but otherwise the game goes as a classic jump and run platformer. 
The levels are full of traps and puzzles to solve each step requiring a clever combination of the two Gianas. Also there battles to have including the also classic level bosses with the difficulty increasing as you progress. The mechanics are very simple with easy handling on the console controller and on a game pad for PC but if you're used to it the keyboard will do properly either. 
A bunch of colored crystals are scattered throughout the worlds: blue ones that can be picked by both Giana, yellow only by Cute and reds only by Punk. The crystals are also puzzle tasking many times and there also Megacrystals to get (secrets). Gathering all the crystals offers the replay option of the stage.
Some extras are available depending on your achievements in the levels, some new modes to unlock like Time Attack, Hardcore, and Uber-Hardcore and also a gallery mode.
The HD graphic concept with the fantasy, clear and appealing design is one of the topmost of the game. Also that goes very well assorted with the sounds and the music. Some old tunes were remixed. 
Overall this is a very catchy adventure platformer with simple mechanics but tricky strategy and puzzles, with a very inspired built-in, and good looking.
Rating goes between 4.5 and 5 (a bit of a no-no is due to some not so smooth handling on keyboard). But really worth playing (Xbox 360 or PC).

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dreamscapes: The Sandman

From Shaman Games via Playrix
Really worth playing adventure puzzle game with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 and just 2 no-nos: the puzzles are a bit too easy and the game is rather short. 
I think this is one of the best concepts of a dreams / nightmares world I played, with a catchy story going in a very well designed scenery.
Play as a nameless volunteer to rescue Laura from the nightmares world by basically entering in her dreams and solving each part of it to save all Laura's reflections. These will bring you with a piece of the protective dreamcatcher to repair it. 
As in any adventure game all the items are to find in the scenery or to gain by solving various tasks. The puzzles (mini-games) are, as said, easy going but very nice drawn and interesting. 
The best of the game is the catchy clever touch of the entire story with a good background, logical flow and very little backtracking as the locations are closed on solving.
I really liked the little vampire gremlin (I always like the fun addition of a minion) Benny. 
That's a very good thinking of the story built by adding small things that gradually transforms the nightmare (you can see the nice things like through some holes in the curtain): Benny, the butterflies, the paper dolls, the roses on the porch, the cat and so on.
The graphics are well done with an appealing design assorted with good sounds, but a bit too monotonous creepy music.
There 108 beholders to collect and you can see by the left guiding bookmark how many are in each scene. You get some achievements, and along with the dreamcatcher pieces are also diary pages to get that completes the story.
The CE brings a bonus chapter, SG, and the usual art extras.
Overall I enjoyed the game just wished to be a bit longer.