What I’ve been Playing: Quarter 4 2011

Welcome to my mega review for the past three months of 2011.  In this post are mini-reviews of L.A. Noire, Modern Warfare 3, and Assassin’ Creed Revelations.  Some scores may surprise you.

L.A. Noire

This is one of those games I didn’t expect to be buying when heading into 2011.  Then the reviews came rolling in.  The trailers, the countless articles.  I had to get this game.

It just goes to show how far Rockstar have come.  You’ve got a sandbox city, you can play certain cases in whatever order you want, and you’ve got discretion on how you want to play through the cases.  So far, so GTA.  But this time you’re on the other side of the law- you are the law.

I doubt a game like this would have even been possible a few years ago: the advanced motion capture on actors’ faces- detailed enough to show/betray emotion, the look and feel of such a huge living, breathing city, and the noir storyline.  Breathtaking.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 STARS

I’m not going to go in to any further detail about L.A. Noire.  For that, I refer you to Matt Brett’s superb review.  What I will add though is apart from trying to 5-star certain cases, I felt little replay value.  Don’t get me wrong, the game was a tour de force but I’d had enough playing the game once.

Modern Warfare 3

This one’s still pretty much a work in progress for me.  I’ve completed the single player campaign on regular, and I’m working my way through Veteran.  As for multiplayer, I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Some may say the Modern Warfare (and inherently the Call of Duty) franchise has grown stale, become a cash cow… etc.  Maybe.  But you can’t say it doesn’t deliver.  I really enjoyed the single player campaign and storyline.  It brought closure on the Modern Warfare trilogy with a few twists and turns along the way.

Now time for… multiplayer!  This is the best online multiplayer experience since, well, Modern Warfare 2.  It feels snappy, responsive, and satisfying.  Black Ops never really felt right to me, and with many bugs on the PS3 version of the game it just killed the whole experience for me.  Modern Warfare 3 is a return to form.

For any naysayers who say that Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer is basically Modern Warfare 2 but with new maps, I wholeheartedly agree with you.  But is that such a bad thing?

Verdict: 4 out of 5 STARS

Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Oh Ezio, what are we going to do with you?  If you’re Ubisoft, then the answer is to trot out the master Assassin for another yearly outing.  In a weird sort of way, for me Assassin’s Creed Revelations is both the best and the worst game in the series yet.

They changed the weapon wheel.  That simple fact angers me more than almost anything else.  Up to and including Brotherhood, I felt in control of all weapons.  Creating two weapon wheels and not being clear about what button/action activates what made me feel detached from the experience somewhat.  Re-mapping eagle vision from triangle to L3 I can deal with, but messing with my weapon wheel?  No sir.

Which nicely leads me on to those stupid bombs.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re a nice addition to the gameplay as they give you many more options: you can play the game your way.  However what I didn’t like was that the game forces you to use the bombs in practically every situation.  The bombs didn’t really fit into my gameplay style, and you can be sure that I’m not going to use them just to achieve 100% synch on a mission.  You’re Ezio, not Solid Snake.

And finally, the plot.  I’m sorry, but in this regard, Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood made a real connection with me as I followed Ezio’s life from foolish teenager to Master Assassin.  Revelations left me cold in comparison as it didn’t really develop Ezio’s story or Desmond’s.  The biggest beneficiary of Revelations?  Altair.  I’m beginning to wonder that a yearly release cycle may not be as beneficial to the Assassin’s Creed franchise as it is to the Call of Duty one.  It’s time for Assassin’ Creed III.

Multiplayer?  Let’s not even go there.  For my multiplayer fix, I’ll be playing Modern Warfare 3.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 STARS

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