LA Noire Articles RSS Feed | LA Noire RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 10 Open World Video Games Set In Historical Eras Sun, 10 Dec 2017 15:06:55 -0500 Louis Bulaong


Learning about history has never been so much fun. These titles have shown that video games can also be an educational way of learning about the past and see just how awesome our ancestors were when they kicked butt back then. With titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Kingdom Come: Deliverance on the way, expect a lot more historical games to be released in the future. 


Until then, grab a medieval sword, cowboy pistols, and a history book and go have some fun with these games on the list!


Red Dead Redemption


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360


When Red Dead Redemption was released, it not only changed how historical games are made, it revolutionized how open-world video games should be played as a whole.


In Red Dead Redemption, you play as John Marston, a former outlaw who is forced by the government to save his family. While open world games set in the Wild West are not a new idea (just look at previous titles like Gun and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood), Red Dead Redemption is different by adding a morality system. This system affects gameplay whenever players act as a protector of the law or a bloodthirsty criminal.


Players can traverse through the dying American frontier and across diverse environments, including snowy mountains, swamps and rivers, green forests, and deserts. They can also can gamble in towns, herd cattle as a cowboy, hunt animals, and engage in gunfights and duels. Everything from the diction and horses, to even the newspapers and moving pictures of the day is depicted accurately. Top it off with an amazing, Oscar-worthy story, and one could reasonably argue Rockstar created one of the greatest video games of all time.


Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Steam


Of all the historical open world video games out there, the Assassin’s Creed series is by far the most well-known. The entire franchise spans many different historical eras, from the Third Crusade, Renaissance, the Age of Revolutions and many others. The best game in the series however, is the one that takes place in the Golden Age of Piracy, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.


In the game, players take control of a pirate named Edward Kenway, and it certainly delivered on the swashbuckling action and high seas exploration that was expected of it. As a pirate, players can raid ports and other ships, find treasure hidden in uncharted islands or deep underwater, and fight soldiers and other pirates with cutlasses and flintlock pistols.


While not entirely the most historically accurate game in the bunch (the series is sci-fi, after all), the game does well in resurrecting the Carribean during the age of the pirate, from the environment to even the historical individuals like Black Beard and Anne Bonney.


The Saboteur


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows


There have been a lot of World War II games, but only one that used an open world environment. The Saboteur is an action adventure game starring an angry Irish resistance fighter named Sean Devlin, as he fights for liberty and vengeance in Nazi-occupied Paris. With an assortment of WWII weapons and vehicles, Sean Devlin fights for the French people by battling soldiers and destroying their war machines.


What makes The Saboteur unique from the others is that it combines the gameplay of two of the best open-world game series, but in a WWII setting: Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed. Sean Devlin can roam around the city, stealthily destroying enemy outposts like V2 rockets and AT guns, or climbing famous sites such as the Eiffel Tower, that have been decorated in Nazi symbols. It's difficult to find another game that immerses the player so fully in the setting and combines setting so skillfully with gameplay.


Far Cry Primal


Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam


Far Cry Primal is a bit different, since it's one of a few games set in pre-history--the time of cavemen, massive creatures, and life without the perks (or life expectancy) of civilization. The Far Cry series is known for its creative use of first-person gameplay in a free-roam type setting, but this time developers replaced firearms and vehicles with stone-age weapons and ancient beasts.


In Far Cry Primal players take control of a hunter named Takkar in the Mesolithic age, as he treks through lush, but unforgiving environments, hunts beasts like mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, and fights other cavemen and tribes for vital resources. Takkar can also tame animals that he can use at his disposal--an interesting and chronologically accurate depiction of the transition of mankind from a hunter-gatherer society to the time of settlement and conquering nature itself.


The Testament of Sherlock Holmes


Available on: Xbox 360, Windows


The long-running indie series Adventures of Sherlock Holmes has been scratching that open-world detective video game itch for over a decade, long before L.A. Noire. In this series, Sherlock Holmes solve a variety of cases, many of which pitted him against other famous characters, like Arsene Lupin, Jack the Ripper and the Cult of Cthulhu. Besides giving the players the chance to solve mysterious crimes, many of the games in this series also offer the chance to roam around places in Victorian England.


Frogwares has done well in meticulously researching the history of 19th century London. But when the sixth installment, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes came out, more effort and attention to detail was given to really create that authentic look for the HD generation.


While not entirely an open world game, players are still free to roam around the downtrodden Whitechapel District itself to see the dark Gothic buildings and the dreary economic state of much of the city. This great attention to detail turned this indie title into one of the best detective games of all time.


Mafia II


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC


From games like Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row and Sleeping Dogs, it's easy to say gangsters are one of the most popular protagonists in many open world video games. So who wouldn't want to play as a tommy gun-wielding mobster in the 1950s? Thankfully for those who do, developer 2K Czech released Mafia II in 2010, where players take control of mobster Vito Scarletta throughout his criminal career. This particular game makes you feel like a true gangster better than many of its contemporaries.


Unlike L.A. Noire, where you play as a law enforcer, in Mafia II, you play as a gangster who is free to cause carnage with tommy guns and a variety of classic cars. The developers included multiple details, large and small, to give the game a nice '50s vibe, from the rock and roll music, to the classic mobster suits and greasers jacket, and even collectibles in the form of vintage Playboy covers.


L.A. Noire 


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, Xbox One


Rockstar, a developer that can easily be seen as a master of open-world games, has released several sandbox games set in various historical eras. One of them is L.A. Noire, a detective game that takes place in the scandalous era of 1940s Los Angeles.


Players take control of Cole Phelps, a WWII veteran who joined the police force, as he climbs the career ladder from beat cop to renowned detective. The game is reminiscent of all the classic noire stories and pulp fiction of the past, with players interrogating witnesses and investigating crime scenes across the colorful landscape of Los Angeles.


Players fight criminals using tommy guns, Hollywood style gossip can be indulged in, and you can even drive along the old Hollywoodland sign. And let's face it: everyone wants to do that. One downloadable mission even has Cole Phelps solving the Black Dahlia murder. Los Angeles has never looked as gritty as it was in the old days in L.A. Noire.




Mount & Blade 


Available on: PC, Steam


When it comes to medieval games in the industry, it seems one has to have at least a dragon, an elf, or magic to be popular, just like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Dragon’s DogmaMount and Blade on the other hand, deviates from these fantasy trends and instead, depicts the so-called Dark Ages as they were more than a millennium ago. Even without the magic and the sorcery, Mount & Blade is still considered to be one of the best medieval action RPGs of all time. 


Players only have their swords, bows, and other medieval weapons for support, as they journey through the countryside of Europe, fighting battles, conquering castles, and raiding villages. Players must personally lead their men into battle in either all-out brawls or smarter strategic assaults. There's just as much medieval fun to be had out of the less fantastical elements of the period than you might think.




Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories


Available on: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3


The popular Grand Theft Auto series isn’t a historical open-world game in a sense, but there are many titles that takes place in certain time periods, and one of them is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.


Like many GTA games, players take control of a down-on-his-luck protagonist, as he rises from the bottom to the top of the criminal world, filled with brawls, gunfights, and vehicle drive-bys. What sets it apart from others, however, is its satirical portrayal of 1980s America.


Audio consists of iconic pop music of the time, vintage cars can be driven, and there are a ton of cheesy 80s references from aerobics, Rambo, Phil Collins, and even "99 Red Balloons." It captures everything related to how the era is stereotypically portrayed in pop culture. Even the game’s story is heavily influenced by the 80s idea of liberty, promiscuity, and rampart drug epidemics. 


Way of the Samurai 3


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Steam, iOS


In this third installment of the long-running Way of the Samurai series, Way of the Samurai 3 lets players take control of an unnamed samurai as he fights through battles and duels in Sengoku Japan. Developer Acquire did a great job in recreating the Warring States Period of Japan, a time where factions and clans wage war until whoever can finally take control of the islands.


The protagonist can be customized in terms of general appearance and clothing, as well as what type of Japanese weapon he can wield. Players can roam around the countryside, either helping people or causing mayhem with a katana or naginata. And in an era filled with treachery and betrayal, players can choose which side he wants to fight for, which can lead to different endings. 


If you're a big fan of classic jidaigeki films like Seven Samurai and historical anime like Rurouni Kenshin, then give this one a try.


With open world games set in modern day cities, cybernetic worlds, and fantasy kingdoms done to death at this point, there is no wonder that historical games such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Red Dead Redemption 2 are trending in the market. Not only do these games bring variety to a popular genre, but they also bring with them the chance to relive history and walk and interact with the people and events of yesteryear.


You can play as a knight, pirate, samurai, noire detective, gangster or a cowboy; ride horses and mammoths or drive vintage cars; and roam around places like the Old West, Victorian London or Nazi-occupied Paris. The choice is yours to decide, but we've put together a list of the 10 best open world games with historical settings to help get you started.

Check Out L.A. Noire's 4K Remaster Trailer Tue, 31 Oct 2017 11:37:16 -0400 KatherineZell

Rockstar recently released a new trailer for the remastered edition of L.A. Noire. This 2011 classic will be hitting shelves again November 14th, 2017, and will be available on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.

L.A. Noire is a detective story based in Los Angeles in the 1940s  and is modeled after the film noir style popular in Hollywood during the same time. The cases that the player must solve are even based off real cases from 1947 in L.A.. Players control Police Officer Cole Phelps and solve cases leading to Phelps’ various promotions, including him becoming a detective.

An important part of the player’s ability to solve cases rests in determining if different characters are lying or not. The unprecedented facial animation technology used in L.A. Noire helps with being able to determine this. This technology is thanks to MotionScan, a technology developed by Depth Analysis, that captures an actors’ facial expressions with 32 different cameras. This technology led to the facial expressions and reactions of the characters in L.A. Noire to be unmatched by any other video game. This helped give the game a solid 89/100 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from Metacritic.

The remaster gives us consumers higher resolution, improved textures here and there, improved weather, better lighting, and more cinematic camera angles. Also, the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X will receive a 4K version of it. In addition to these remastered editions for the standard consoles, the HTC Vive, Steam and HTC’s virtual reality headset, will be getting seven of the cases from the game for some virtual reality case solving.

There doesn’t seem to be a solid consensus as to why Rockstar chose to remaster L.A. Noire over some of their other last generation games, but two theories include prepping consumers for L.A. Noire 2 or simply exploring virtual reality more.

Why do you think Rockstar chose L.A. Noire? Is it the game you would have chosen? Let us know in the comments!

3 of the Most Dangerous Cities in the World! (According to Games) Fri, 28 Oct 2016 02:00:01 -0400 chopchamen

There's crime in the real world, there's crime in games. Sometimes you fight crime, sometimes you cause crime. There are plenty of games that take place in real cities, and they often paint the city red with violence. In this article, we'll be looking at some cities, and how dangerous they are according to the games taking place there.

1. Miami

Miami has been host to games such as Battlefield Hardline, Hotline Miami, and Scarface, there was also a fictional adaptation of Miami in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. There is a lot of drug related crimes involved in every single one of these titles, including trafficking, murder, violence, crooked cops, or in the case of Miami Hotline -- a guy wearing a chicken mask killing off hordes of the Russian mob.

2. Los Angeles

This city has seen some of the worst digital crime ever. In Grand Theft Auto V, it had Trevor's craziness to put up with, in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas it had crooked cops, and a lot of gang violence, and L.A. Noire had a lot of cases to do with murder and vice, which got pretty gruesome.

3. New York City

There are many games that have taken place here. From games like Grand Theft Auto IV, to the The Godfather, or the Spiderman games, even to something like The Division. According to these games there is a lot of gang related violence going on in New York City, along with some pretty infamous characters either directing, or spurring on the violence. In the case of The Division, New York city is prone to bio terrorist attacks. Plus, there's also Godzilla, so... Essentially, these games have taught us to just stay inside -- or run away, unless you have superpowers.

Ironically, in real life only one of these cities made it to a top 100 most dangerous places in the US list, and that was Miami, ranking at number 63 according to These cities don't seem to be as bad as the games would have you think -- which is good, because I would not like to get stomped on by Godzilla when I'm visiting New York.

Whether you got assaulted, or you were under the threat of bioterrorism, you always pulled through in the games, right? Let us know the moments you've felt most unsafe in video game cities in the comments!

10 Decisions That Suck No Matter Which Side You Choose Tue, 24 May 2016 06:58:49 -0400 Justin White

Games and media in this day and age are all about choice and the moral grey. Is this the right decision? Is it the wrong decision? Is it neither--with a negative outcome either way? This top ten list explores those latter types of decisions and choices, like having to choose which member of your squad will live or die, or whether or not to side with a particular group in a dispute--either way, the outcome will suck for somebody.'s top 10 list of the hardest gaming decisions they've had to make will contain spoilers for the following games:

  • Dragon Age II
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Fable II
  • Mass Effect
  • Infamous 
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Deus Ex
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • L.A. Noire
  • The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series

Which choices you had to make haunted to you?

Best gaming themed drinks to get you drunk Wed, 16 Mar 2016 05:36:43 -0400 Ty Arthur

St. Pattys, Cinco De Mayo, 4th of July: there's a surprising number of holidays that revolve primarily (or even entirely) around getting your drink on.

If green beer, shots of tequila, and an endless supply of Bud Light aren't your thing, then you may want to spice up your holiday celebrations with drinks drawn from the deep well of video game history.

Unfortunately, not all gamers are lucky enough to live near arcade/bar mashups like Ground Kontrol or Battle & Brew, so for those who have to mix up their own drinks, we're looking out for you with a list of game-inspired alcoholic beverages to try out.

Mixed Drinks

Traditionally when someone says “video games,” cans of Mountain Dew and energy drinks come to mind, but there's actually a decent number of boozy drinks specifically catered to those of us of the gaming persuasion. These are the best of the best we found while culling through hundreds of game-themed mixed cocktails.

Gummy Vodka Pokeballs

Source: Imgur User BigEatsBen

This one's a lot of work for a relatively small amount of alcohol, but you can't beat the theme here if you happen to have a Pokemon obsessed friend who likes to party. These are ingeniously made by melting down two different colored gummy candies, mixing with your preferred vodka, and molding them together using greased half-circle trays.

Rainbow Road

Source: Nintendrunk Tumblr

I can unequivocally say that the more shots you've had, the more fun each successive round of co-op Mario Kart becomes -- so long as your opponent is keeping up, anyway!

This colorful mixed drink draws its inspiration from the classic Rainbow Road level that has appeared in a whole lot of Mario titles, and is made by combining layers of:

  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • ½ oz. gin
  • ⅓ oz. grenadine
  • ⅓ oz. rum
  • 3 oz. vodka
  • Two splashes blue curaçao

For the nostalgia factor, here's a video showcasing the evolution of Rainbow Road throughout Mario history.

House Baratheon

Source: Geek And Sundry Vlogs

OK, I recognize that A Song Of Ice And Fire is a book first, a T.V. show second (although that's about to flip this year...), and a gaming franchise third, but it still absolutely counts as a gaming franchise – both of the tabletop and electronic varieties.

For those who worship at the rotund throne of the usurper, this one's for you! Meant to be taken as a shot rather than a full mixed drink, pour together equal parts:

  • Crown Royal whiskey
  • Red Stag Cinnamon
  • Mead

Blue Materia

Source: Cristina Viseu's YouTube Page

Did you know there's a Square Enix restaurant/bar called Artnia? Of course they have a host of Final Fantasy-themed drinks, from the Potion to the Ifrit.

If you aren't heading to Japan anytime soon, Cristina Viseu shows you how to recreate the Blue Materia mixed drink in the clip below, featuring a frozen ball of blue curaçao. You'll need:

  • 1 ½ oz. blue curaçao
  • 2 oz. gin
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup

  • Sphere mold and water

Dirt Block

Source: The Drunken Moogle

You can already make everything else in Minecraft, so why not booze as well? A gamed up version of a mudslide, you should obviously serve this one in a square glass. The Dirt Block consists of:

  • 1 ½ oz. french vanilla Kahlua
  • 1 ½ oz. amaretto
  • 3 oz. chocolate milk
  • Oreo cookie crumbs

True, Lie, Stout

Source: The Guardian / Loading owner James Dance

While its unlikely you'll get better at discerning truth from lie after downing a few of these, LA Noire is still a good time with a strong, dark drink in hand. This simple mix consists of equal parts vodka and Kahlua topped with Guinness, so it ends up pitch black.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Source: The Drunken Moogle

I feel like giving either Sonic or Tails any amount of hard liquor would only end in high-speed disaster, but gamers who can still remember playing the original Genesis titles should have a nostalgic good time with this layered drink. Mix together:

  • 1 part grenadine
  • 2 parts Menthomint Schnapps
  • 4 parts Blue Curacao

The Golden Chocobo

Source: The Drunken Moogle

You probably better load up FF7 and hit the chocobo races in gold saucer while imbibing this cocktail. The fizzy and sweet Golden Chocobo is made by pouring together:

  • ½ shot of Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps Liqueur
  • ½ shot of Wild Turkey’s American Honey
  • 1 Can of Ginger Ale


Lest we leave our beer-drinking readers thirsty...yes, there are even some gaming-themed brews out there worth trying as well!

Critical Hit

Source: Ninkasi Brewing

Ninkasi is known for brutally punishing IPAs with absurd levels of hoppiness, but they also have some really interesting themed drinks. This is a great one to down with some hearty stew while rolling d20s with your friends on a Sunday afternoon.

You won't need too many of them though, because at 10-11% ABV, this has about double the amount of alcohol of as your typical American brew.

Mega Milk

Source: Arcade Brewery

OK, I'm a little weirded out by the naming convention, but this Mega Man-themed oatmeal stout is still kind of genius. Although this dark stout is only 5.3% ABV (on the low side for my tastes), I'd still love to give this a try while running through some classic Mega Man X.

Let us know if you end up trying any of these this weekend, and be sure to recommend any gaming themed drinks we missed in the comments below!

This week's Xbox Deals with Gold has Arkham Knight discount, among others Wed, 19 Aug 2015 12:02:27 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

There are some pretty big games getting discounts on Xbox Live's Deals with Gold this week. Batman: Arkham Knight, Grand Theft Auto V and LEGO Jurassic World headline this week's set of deals, though to be fair Grand Theft Auto V's deal is reminiscent of the one that drew the ire of many consumers during Steam's yearly Summer Sale.  

For users that have yet to upgrade to Xbox One, Xbox 360 users have a ton of options if they are itching to try something new without spending a lot of money. There are several Grand Theft Auto games getting discounts along with Max Payne 3, L.A. Noire and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The full list of deals is below. Games marked with an asterisk do not require a Gold subscription to obtain the discount.

Xbox One

  • Batman: Arkham Knight - 25% off - $45
  • Grand Theft Auto V w/ Great White Shark Cash Card - 25% off - $60
  • LEGO Jurassic World - 25% off - $45
  • Sherlock Holmes: Crime and Punishments - 50% off - $15
  •  Zumba Fitness Exhilarate Body Shaping System - 33% off - $40.19

Xbox 360

  • Bully Scholarship Edition* - 67-75% off - $3.74/$4.94
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3* - 50% off - $25
  • Doodle Jump for Kinect - 60% off - $2
  • Dungeon Defenders - 67% off - $4.94
  • Dungeon Defenders Mistymire Forest - 50% off - $2
  • Dungeon Defenders The Quest for the Lost Eternia Shards Part 2 - 50% off - $2
  • Dungeon Defenders The Quest for the Lost Eternia Shards Part 3 - 50% off - $2
  • Dungeon Defenders The Quest for the Lost Eternia Shards Part 4 - 50% off - $2
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - 75% off - $5
  • Grand Theft Auto IV* -  67-75% off - $5/$6.59
  • Grand Theft Auto V* - 40-50% off - $30/$35.99
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas* - 67-75% off - $3.74/$4.94
  • GTA IV Episode 1 (The Lost and Damned)* - 67-75% off - $2.50/$3.30
  • GTA IV Episode 2 (The Ballad of Gay Tony)* - 67-75% off - $5/$6.60
  • L.A. Noire* - 67-75% off - $7.50/$9.90
  • L.A. Noire Rockstar Pass* - 67-75% off - $3/$3.95
  • LEGO Jurassic World - 25% off - $37.50
  • Max Payne 3* - 67-75% off - $5/$6.59
  • Max Payne 3 Rockstar Pass* - 67-75% off - $3.74/$4.94
  • Midnight Club: LA* - 67-75% off - $3.74/$4.94
  • Red Dead Redemption* - 67-75% off - $7.50/$9.90
  • Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare Collection* - 67-75% off - $5/$6.60
  • Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare Pack* - 67-75% off - $2.50/$3.30
  • Retro City Rampage: DX - 67% off - $4.94
  • Rockstar Table Tennis* - 67-75% off - $3.74/$4.94
  • Splinter Cell Conviction - 75% off - $5
  • Tom Clancy's EndWar - 75% off - $5
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter - 75% off - $5
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 - 75% off - $5
  • Tom Clancy's HAWX - 75% off - $5
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent - 75% off - $5
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron* - 50% off - $30

With Batman: Arkham Knight and Grand Theft Auto V, Microsoft is clearly stepping up the quality of games offered on Xbox One's weekly deals. Last week's deals were headlined by Mortal Kombat X, Thief and Zoo Tycoon so we are starting to see more and more AAA titles get price drops.  

They say good things come to those who wait, not that I'm suggesting that buying games on Day 1 is a bad thing, but there's definitely something satisfying about getting a great game for a better price.

See anything that catches your eye?

Transparency: The Witcher 3's Open World Vs. Linear Storytelling of the Past Fri, 22 May 2015 11:52:29 -0400 Larry Everett

Hopefully, you are all playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by now. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but this game lives up to the hype it was given, and the reviews are not misplaced. In fact, after this game, I’m not exactly sure where CD Projekt Red can go from here. It might have peaked.

But what’s most interesting about The Witcher as a series is that the second and third installment told the story in very different ways. The Witcher 2, which was a surprising hit, gave us a kind of choose my adventure type of storytelling. Although the basic playthrough was mostly linear, there were ultimately 16 potential endings.

The Witcher 3 takes us out of the linear storytelling and allows us to explore and do the quests that we would like, when we would like to do them. In a single-player RPG, we called this open-world. I’ve known people who spent hours more in the tutorial area than they had to. (By the way, The Witcher 3 is said to have 36 different endings.)

If we take into account the success of each of The Witcher titles, it would seem that the more open the story is, the better the game is. However, gamers have argued this for decades. One camp giving arguments like the more freedom that you give a player the great the investment he will have in a game. Or the more linear the story, the richer the story can be. Although there are some amazing middle grounds, I’d like to take a moment to contrast the two different kinds of RPG storytelling and weigh the pros and the cons.

Linear: Concise Narrative

Bioshock InfiniteAs a complete narrative, linear stories work the best.

The arcs are complete. The acts don't waste as much material on extra quests. And the pursuits of primary characters can be fleshed out without the risk of the player never seeing them.

Although there are many examples where games have told a strong story in a linear format, but I think it is most exemplified in Bioshock Infinite. Ken Levine had a story that he wanted to tell. Infinite could have been a movie, or better yet, a series on Netflix.

But he made it a game partly, I’m sure because that’s what he was familiar with, but also it put the viewer in the place of the main character in a way that a movie couldn’t. The narrative had a clear arc, and although there appeared to be a choice at the beginning of the game, there really wasn’t. The game was simply a shooter with a great story drawing the player forward.

Linear: In-depth Main Character

Many open-world games rely on the player to develop the character. Overwhelmingly, Skyrim is touted as a wonderful tribute to the open-world RPG genre. However, everyone will agree that Skyrim is less about the your character becoming the Dragonborn, and more about the people around him or her. Skyrim is a great game, but it’s clear that the main character has no depth.

When you compare that to the linear main characters, like with the Last of Us or LA Noire, the primary protagonist is much stronger.

Linear: Simple Execution

Linear stories have one story to tell. This allows developers to concentrate on other parts of the game, like level maps or combat mechanics. It’s not that open-world games can’t have good or complicated mechanics; it’s just that more resources have to be thrown at the game in order for that to happen. Simply put, I’m saying that linear games can be made with less money. Or it allows for a greater opportunity for the mechanics of the game to be more polished.


Open world: Character Ownership

I know I’m making large generalizations when it comes to these storytelling devices. There will be any exceptions to the rules, but most of the time in open-world games, we have to sacrifice the personality of the main character to tell the story.

However, that’s not always bad because that means the main character essentially becomes the player. The choices that he or she makes becomes the story. Although it lacks some of the depth that a single linear story could have, there is certainly more ownership of the protagonist’s actions.

Open world: Freedom of Choice

That freedom of choice becomes the primary focus of non-linear stories. Explorer-type players get to do whatever they would like whenever they would like. Monster hunting in The Witcher 3 becomes more compelling when I get to choose which monster I get to kill and when. I get to pick my enemies and my friends. If I want to go left on the fork in the road, I can because this is my world.

Open World: Complicated Execution

Unfortunately, an open-world dictates that a game developer must create something down that left fork in the road. Hell, it has to make the left fork in the first place. The more that a developer has to do in the name of choice means the less complicated other parts of the game have to be.

That means more characters have to be made, and some of these characters might never be seen by the player, potentially wasting developer time. In the long run, it hurts the bottom line. A developer then has to rely on the intellectual property or the publisher more to bring in the money that it needs to make the game.

Personally, I don’t want either of these types of games to stop being made. I believe they both have merit and strong, compelling reasons to continue to be developed. Both also have strong reasons why it is better than the other way of telling a story through a game.

Open-world seems to be the bandwagon at the moment, but eventually, someone will spend a lot of money to make a bad open-world game and the studios will go back to making games with stronger narratives for less money, and the cycle will continue. As long as good games in both arenas keep getting made, I’ll keep buying them. Now, let me get back to playing The Witcher 3.

The Constants and Variables of Everyday Gaming Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:55:06 -0400 Simon Costelloe

As long time gamers, we are accustomed to certain clichés in gaming that have existed in the gaming world since the dawn of time – or at least since the release of Pong in 1972. These clichés have pretty much always existed and will surely live on for years to come given that if they were to disappear, we as gamers would feel scared and we would inevitably revolt and demand the return of explosive barrels.

It is easier to understand what I am trying to say if you imagine that all games are made in the BioShock universe…I’m sure that clears things up. As we discovered in the beautiful BioShock Infinite, there are constants and there are variables.

Games are no different and if you look hard enough you will find their lighthouse.

Some examples of these “constants” are:

1. Explosive Barrels

Ah yes, the explosive barrel. I mentioned this little guy already probably because he is the most well-known and overused cliché of them all. These unstable containers are home to liquids so volatile that they will seemingly explode once hit with a single bullet or in some cases after a good smack with your knife after hitting the melee button. I am so confident that this would never happen in real life that I almost dared anyone who reads this to go out and find a barrel or an oil tank and smack it around a bit with a pipe before I was advised not to by my lawyer.

I recently went back to play Far Cry 3 in preparation for the next installment in the series and I am nearly convinced that there are more explosive containers on Rook Island than local inhabitants.

This constant is also one of the most likely to never go away as the explosions that result after committing barrel genocide help create a very cinematic experience and also allows the game to flex it’s graphical muscles.

2. Tutorials

Oh tutorials how I hate you with every fiber of my being. “Hold right stick up to look up and right stick down to look down” and “Press the A button to jump” always sour the first 5 to 30 minutes of a game for me. I have been playing games for so many years now that if I jumped into a game I never heard of I would most likely require only 5 to 10 seconds of figuring out the controls with some exceptions in the case of a funky game mechanic such as time reversal in Singularity.

Of course I am looking at this from a very personal perspective and there are kids (and some adults) out there who are playing a game for the first time and have never fired a virtual gun or jumped over a knee high wall. Some games do it better and allow you to turn off tutorials before you begin the game while some games like Portal 2 and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon do it right with the tutorial in the latter being activated as a prank on your player with some instructions asking you to “Press A in order to demonstrate your ability to read”. However this may be troublesome for people who can’t actually read and are stuck at the start forever.


3. Stupid AI

Humans have yet to discover how to create a fully functioning Artificial Intelligence, which is either a good thing if it turns out like the Johnny Depp computer in Transcendence and tries to destroy all of humanity or a bad thing if we could somehow create EDI from the Mass Effect series.

As a result we are left with enemies and companions alike who will stand in your way and refuse to move such as Fawkes in Fallout 3 or the guards in Thief 4 that will walk from one side of the street to the other for hours on end simply to stare at a wall. These simple enemies obviously exist because real life guards and bandits would not forget how your player character just shot them in the face with an arrow but instead they would hunt you down mercilessly and therefore make any kind of stealth game impossible to beat.

4. Escort Missions

By this I do not mean you get to play as an escort dating rich men for big money but instead you get to lead a confused and non-combat trained companion to safety.

This obviously ties in with my previous entry but I felt these were annoying enough to deserve their own category.

Whether it be allies who disappear and glitch into a wall or small children that for some reason are vulnerable to gunfire, escort missions either need a major overhaul or they should be avoided completely.

Notable examples of escort missions done well however include Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite who is a capable ally you come to rely upon when playing on harder difficulties due to her tear opening abilities and also Ellie from the Last of Us who is a character that you will bond with and never feel like she is a burden preventing Joel from surviving.

5. Gimmicky Weapons

There are so many games out there that require the player to master a wide array of weaponry but how many times can we fire an M14 in a game and not have it feel like the last 2 games we just played?

Developers of games containing firearms must ask themselves this question a lot and that is why some shooters try to stand out from the crowd and so we get the Gravity Gun from Half Life.

Many people love this gun and I must admit finding some form of pleasure when I cut a zombie in two after firing a saw-blade at him.

Wolfenstein: The New Order has to be one of my favourite games this year but I hated when the game was trying desperately to have me use its “Laserkraftwerk” contraption. It wasn’t until the weapon was fully upgraded that I felt it was actually useful in combat but that didn’t stop the game automatically equipping it on me every time I died and respawned.

Games that do it right are the Fallout games that throw in so many gimmicky weapons such as the “Rock-It Launcher” and the “Nuka Grenade” but have them be entirely optional and fun alternatives to an assault rifle.

6. Shiny Activatables

If ever you needed evidence that game developers think we are stupid…here it is. I can’t think of anything more patronizing in games than having a glowing red button lighting up half the screen or in the case of L.A. Noire having clues not only shine a little bit but walking over them causes your controller to vibrate and a cute little chime plays over your speakers.

There are pros and cons to this category with many gamers feeling that games have gotten too easy and some gamers believing they just don’t have the time anymore to spend hours looking for a meaningless collectible or a button under a desk.

These are just some of the things I’ve noticed in my many years of gaming, have I missed any?