The HITC writers are playing quite a mix of games this weekend, including L.A. Noire, XCOM, and WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania.
What a miserable weekend. It is where I am atleast. Cold, windy, raining. There's no better excuse to stay at home and play some videogames. But, to be honest, I'd probably be doing that despite the weather. Anyway, myself and the rest of the team at HITC Tech have some brilliant games lined up for ourselves this weekend, so take a look at what we're playing.
Steve - L.A. Noire
I’m still on Borderlands The Pre-Sequel, so I have the PS3 running at the moment (I’m nearly done though and will write up a review soon). While I’ve been doing this, and in between having some RPG fun, I’ve had my completionist hat on and I'm attempting to clear out trophies on unfinished games I have sitting around.
I’ve got one trophy left to get on L.A. Noire before I platinum it, so I’ll be attempting to finish that off this weekend. It’s the Hollywoodland, egg hunt, find all the gold film reels trophy - one of those, ‘explore all the lovely corners of the world we made for you’ trophies that are just laborious and ultimately pointless. That said I can see how such trophies attempt to nurture a community, as you will find the road maps and walkthroughs for it posted by fans. With the onset of Photo Mode tinkery and ‘look how leet I R!’ livestreaming it definitely feels the tools games use to keep you replaying are evolving though - will we still be happy to meander around on a second playthrough to collect all the meaningless prezzies in the future? Probably!
I love L.A. Noire: the style, the story, the GTA-like aimless carjacking, accompanied by period radio stations. I think the interrogation, ‘stare at the person’s face’ mechanics are great, they involve you in the game in a way that makes you use base intuition to judge the situation. There are no button prompts, meters or twitch skill tests to help you decide if people are being honest - just the shift and gait of the character - you have to pay attention to what people are saying and the subtleties with which they say it.
The game took a step into the ‘how games can be like films’ arena, although I liken it more to a TV series in the way you episodically rise and fall through the ranks of the LAPD, beginning cases at the station each time.
I know the game isn’t without its detractors, South Park summed up (in true sweary style) what’s perceived as being wrong with it, see below.
And I agree that L.A. Noire wants you to progress the story over being a boss detective, but you get to ‘commandeer’ 1940s gas-guzzlers and run up damages on the city payroll, which is always a fun distraction.
Matt - WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania
This weekend I'll be revisiting a classic, Yuke's and THQ's WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania.
The game contains everything that a classic WWE game should have, great moves, classic wrestlers and recreations of famous matches. I'll be looking forward to slamming Andre The Giant with Hulk Hogan, just like Wrestlemania III.
This game was great fun when it came out in 2009, at a time when the Smackdown Vs Raw games had severely lost their way, attempting to add storylines which just didn't work. The real joy of this game was getting back to basics - no major storyline, just classic wrestlers hitting classic moves, and even better, in classic arenas. So there's a lot of classic then? Well, not entirely. Whilst I really love this game, and it appeals to my nostalgia for the good old days, it's far from perfect. Yes it's a bit buggy in places and some of the matches were poorly recreated, forcing you to follow a series of set moves rather than just battle it out, but that kind of adds to it's charm.
I'll also be looking forward to using the Create-A-Legend mode again, it's been a while and I can't actually remember what my legend looks like, but no doubt I stuck to my default creation - Matt Pendragon. Essentially me, with a fire based costume and entrance, looking a bit metal. Yes I'm sad, I know, but I'm proud of it.
Ian - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
This weekend I'll be continuing my righteous mission of ridding the world of dastardly alien invaders, by playing 2K’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown on the iPad. I've had the PC version for a while, but didn’t find it that great as I was always comparing it to the 1994 original (which I still play to this day and I highly recommend getting it on Steam). So, it was with some trepidation that I stumped up the money to buy it again on the iPad and I’m glad I did!
I always thought that turn-based strategy games would be ideal for a touchscreen device, yes it’s always been fine playing it with a mouse, but it wasn’t until I loaded the game up and started playing did I realise how good a game this is, and I've been playing it daily ever since.
The great thing about it, apart from the perfect touchscreen controls, is that it’s the full game too - there’s no corners cut in any way from the original PC version that I can see, and because of this it does take up a big chunk of space on the iPad, so you might have start deleting apps to make room for it.
The graphics and sound are just the same as a mid-level PC’s setup. And everything's in there - intercepting UFOs, retrieving the craft and their occupants, researching and implementing their weapons and technology to even the odds. Even the cut scenes driving the story are in there, as you slowly uncover the reasons why they're terrorizing the planet.
The game is fair too, as you know that it's your fault when one of the soldiers you’ve nurtured through the ranks get killed - you were probably too gung-ho. The game will now become that much harder when you’re suddenly up against armoured Mutons rather than Sectoids, as your soon to be cannon fodder rookie replacement just doesn’t cut it on the later battlefield.
The only gripes I’ve found are that it occasionally crashes. Thankfully the autosave kicks in most of the time, but there have been a couple of times where it didn’t, so I've had to replay a difficult mission again, which is a tad frustrating. The other thing that I feel it lacks is the fear factor that the original had in droves. For example, sending your highly ranked and skilled solider around a corner that's shrouded by the fog of war in the original, and coming face to face with an Ethereal Leader or Chryssalid when you’ve run out of time units, still evokes an emotional response (usually filled with expletives). When you finish your turn, you know that soldier is about to die, or be mind-controlled and suddenly turn on the nearest soldier to them. The fear factor is there on the iPad, but for me it doesn’t pull it off as well.
Apart from my gripes it’s a great game and one that's definitely built for a tablet device. You can easily lose yourself in it for a few hours over the weekend. Now if they could please release the original on iPad I will be eternally grateful and buy it immediately.
Adam - Banished
I actually played Banished a couple of nights ago for the first time, after finding it tucked away on my ever-growing Steam games library. I have no idea when I bought it, but I'm glad I did.
Banished is a PC strategy game where you're tasked with developing and managing a small community in the middle of nowhere. This isn't Sim City, you won't find suburbs and towering skyscrapers here, instead you'll have fields of crops, wooden lodges, and individual citizens with their own needs and jobs to do.
Banished is hard, especially when you don't know what you're doing. You need to provide your citizens with homes to keep warm as the seasons and weather change, ensuring they're also fed and have medicine too. You definitely need to go through the tutorials.
After a few attempts on my own I gave in and actually took a look at the tutorials. Basically you need to balance your resources, make sure you have enough firewood for when it's cold, ensure your crops are harvested before the early frost of winter sets in, and make sure all your citizen's needs are catered to.
For a game I was only intending to try out for 30 minutes, I actually ended up playing it for about 3 hours. I wasn't met with any kind of attacks from other nations like in similar games, nothing like that kind of pressure, I was simply relaxed (especially with the background music) and plotting out the growth of my little town. Harsh winters took the weaker of my citizens, and a subsequent baby boom meant I had to build more houses, whilst making sure the wood used for them didn't eat into our firewood supply.
Up to now I'm in a pretty good position with my current town and citizens - there's plenty of food and shelter for everyone. So, I'll be looking to expand and hopefully hit a population of over 100 citizens this weekend. Wish us luck, it's a harsh world out there.
There you have it, that's what we're all playing this weekend. Let us know what you're getting stuck into, and why!