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Her Name is Ed Wilson

Thoughts, Anyone?

Game Informer's cover for their March edition of their gaming magazine. All rights of copyright reserved.

I was excited to read on Onion’s A.V. Club, that long awaited L.A. Noire was finally making its debut. The PS3/360 title was announced nearly five years ago, and the wait seems to be worthwhile. Rockstar isn’t exactly known for subtlety and according to Game Director Brendan McNamara, they are boasting that “they reviewed  180,000 photographs to re-create the authenticity of a 1940s postwar Los Angeles.”

Incredible.

The developers claim that their new image-capture technology is going to quote, “make the problems of the uncanny valley a thing of the past.” Now, I love Rockstar and to me they’re development prowess is equivalent to James Cameron’s ability to break boundaries, but eliminating uncanny valley? It seems implausible especially since we’re referring to a multi-platform title. If they can’t design a game to a consoles specs how can they be so sure they can make their character models appear human?

The 360 and PS3 have very different graphic processing units (GPU). Without getting into the boggling details, it reminds me of another title Heavy Rain, although ambitious, developer Quantic Dreams’ character models are pretty noticeably un-human. They promoted the game on mostly graphics alone, promising players that you will not be able to differentiate the real from the unreal.  But judging from the photo below, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain. All rights to copyright reserved.

Truthfully, I don’t need to be awe-struck by graphics. The most important elements in gaming are 1) replayability and 2) a narrative. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve wasted on games that have a linear storyline and zero replay value. Just like any good writer, I enjoy a story with gripping conflicts that make me feel invested in ensuring the protagonist’s survival. That’s what I felt when playing Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill 2.  Graphics aren’t God, but they do help with immersion.

That’s why Rockstar’s different. They burst through the gate with interesting environments like New York City in Grand Theft Auto or the uncultivated west as in Red Dead Redemption. Even better, they take the video gaming culture seriously, allowing players to partake in mature themes that may involve homosexual characters or allow players to witness the repercussions of drugs taking over inner cities.

There wasn’t much information released, but Game Informer has a spread in their newly released March magazine.

Any thoughts?

-e.d.w.

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