snow_light_1Snow and ShivasFF_13_Crew

From the Vault: Final Fantasy XIII

In an earlier incarnation of GeekApproach, I wrote an awful lot about video games.  At the time I was doing work for the games industry and it was a logical extension of the sheer amount of free time I had to actually play said games.  Rather than spend more money (that I don’t have currently) on games, I thought I would go back and replay some titles that I have skipped or didn’t finish for some reason.  Enter Final Fantasy XIII.

The Final Fantasy series is rather legendary in gaming circles.  A cornerstone of the so-called, JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) genre, Final Fantasy (FF) titles have been on every major gaming system since their inception.  Beginning with Nintendo consoles, and moving hand-in-hand with Sony during the PlayStation 2 era, and finally being wooed by Microsoft in the X360 generation to at least make a multi-platform title.  Within the 7th-Gen lifespan that included Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii, Square-Enix managed to put out at least 3 FF titles that spanned the XIII universe: FF XIII, FF XIII-2, and FF XIII: Lightning Returns.  Around March 2010 the game was released worldwide after a holiday release in Japan the quarter prior.  The reviews were a mixed-bag with reviewers offering contradictory opinions on the games linearity, as well as its much-hyped “Paradigm” battle system. (more…)

LA Noire (X360)

Well, it took me nearly 4 months but I finally finished LA Noire.  In an earlier post I was describing how much I really enjoyed the product, with its engaging storyline and a great game mechanic that involves interviewing characters and determining if they’re lying or telling you the truth as you try and put together the details for the case.  Was I engaged to the very end?  Read on…

Yeah, no.  I wasn’t engaged.  The last third or so of the game turned out to be drastically off-balance.  The MO up until this point had been playing as one cop as he worked his way up (or down) through the ranks of the different desks at the LAPD: Vice, Arson, Homicide, and Traffic.  The later third switches up your main character a bit as you work to solve the “meta-story” and “meta-case”.

L.A. Noire

And spoiler alert here: really?  Insurance fraud?  That’s the big bang? 21 cases with the last few being rather involved kinda left me with an ending that didn’t feel appropriate.

The meta-story is interspersed through the entire game and deals with your character (Phelps) and his time in the war with his unit.  An inappropriately given Medal of Honor also takes center stage here as well, augmented with the pan flute and hard strings of instruments from Asia.  I was so sick of seeing these cutscenes….

So where’d it all go wrong? For starters, the cases in the beginning were easier to figure out who was lying and double-crossing you.  The late cases I was averaging 2/5 questions correct per interview or getting stuck at scenes with no idea of where to go next.  I grew tired of having to drive around the city; I started using fast-travel all the time, and I’m sure Rusty got tired of me saying ” You drive.  I need to review the case notes.”  I didn’t do the extras: Finding all the cars, reading all the newspapers, and those film reels? Forget it.  I’m also a bit peeved that there were no end of game achievements: I rounded out with 31/60 achievements at game end, and a few of those were from DLC.  Speaking of….

The “Nicholson Electroplating” DLC case is integrated with the rest of the game.  You’ll take a break between case 20 and the last one, 21 to do some weird side case the freaking took forever.  I wish they had let met at least choose when I was going to do it rather than foisting the choice upon me.

So, while I did enjoy my time in LA Noire I have to say that it ended up like every other Rockstar game I’ve ever played: I have to force myself to play towards its conclusion and often I feel overwhelmed with the amount of things one can/should do in the game world.  I already had the remainder of the DLC so I’m sure I’ll be back in the world soon, but I can’t say for sure when.  The holiday gaming season is right around the corner and Deus Ex is already leading the pack…