Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Forthcoming games: LA Noire and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge

There are a pair of potentially great games coming out in the near future. These are Rockstar’s LA Noire (20 May) and Bethesda’s Hunted: The Demon’s Forge (3 June).

LA Noire sounds fascinating. It’s set in America shortly after the Second World War, with the protagonist playing a rozzer. The policeman’s role varies from patrolling the streets to investigating murder and vice, and given Rockstar’s prolonged experience with the likes of Grand Theft Auto the world is likely to be large, interactive and well-made.

Investigations look to be complex, with a keen eye for clues and judgement calls when interrogating witnesses and suspects yielding additional information. Bad calls could see potential avenues of information closed off.

However, that’s not the biggest reason to look at buying LA Noire. I’m a huge fan of voice acting, and have been since MGS when Cam Clarke and David Hayter played as Liquid and Solid Snake. LA Noire offers another step up from this, with visual acting. New animation technology allows actors’ faces to be accurately reproduced using the game’s graphics. What this means is that when you question someone you can really sense their guilt or innocence based upon both their voice and their face. If this is as good as it sounds it could mark a big step forward for games.

Of course, other games (DA2, for example) do feature emotive faces, incorporating eye muscle movements in smiles and wrinkled brows, but LA Noire does sound a cut above that.

The world and its premise sound intriguing, though I do wonder just replayable such a game will be.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is a completely different kettle of fish. It seeks to blend the power and sophistication of modern gaming with the old school charm of dungeon crawling. Interestingly, it features a pair of protagonists, sexy elf lady E’lara and hulking Caddoc. The former wields a bow and attacks from range using her weapon or magic, the latter is a typical sword and board warrior.

The two are always present, so if you play solo the computer controls the other character (you can pick and stick with one or flit between the two). It sounds similar to the Uncharted series, except that you get to play as one of two characters rather than being just the one. Naturally, you can get a friend to play the other role.

E’lara and Caddoc can heal one another or perform combo attacks, harking back to ye olden days of games like Phantasy Star IV (I’ll be writing a retro-review of that this month).

Hunted also includes The Crucible, which is a level designer. I remember Tenchu’s (I forget if it was in 2 or 3), and that was as user friendly as Lego, so if The Crucible is anywhere near as good it should be enjoyable and easy to use with the added bonus of being able to share created levels with friends.

Looming in the middle distance is Skyrim, due out in November. I’m really looking forward to that, but it’s some way off for now.

I’m still playing F1 2010, so I’m not going to get either of the above games upon release. I’ll be keeping a beady eye on the prices and reviews though.


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