NOT THIS: Murdered: Soul Suspect
Square-Enix's latest lacks the ambition that made LA Noir memorable yet is just as tedious as a point and click crime story.
In Salem, Massachusetts, Detective Ronan O'Connor plays his own rules, but so does the Bell Killer, who tosses him out an apartment window. Ronan awakes beside his body bleeding out. Before he can do much as a spirit, the hooded Bell Killer finds him and pumps him full of lead.
No coming back from that.
And neither can this potentially fun tale with its the horrible antiquated controls. When the gameplay is working, you're mostly listening in on the dull lives of the living. I get that not everyone is fascinating, but man, these are some boring citizens of Salem, MA. Each person that you can eavesdrop, influence, or peek at what they're doing has exactly two thoughts. The process is made even more frustrating in that you have to wait for the proverbial thought bubble to finish. Then and only then will the "dispossess" option come up. It's maddening, I say.
There are some fun diversions peppered through the game's 8-10 hours length. I like Joy, the gal who sees you and other dead people. Also fun is sneaking up behind a soul-sucking demon to make them explode. Still, Joy is used too little and the demon stuff, while fun at first, gets overplayed.
Eventually some game designer is going to crack the problem of making a videogame a successfully engaging procedural. For now, we're stuck with games like Soul Suspect that gives the player a list of options and wants you to match them up like a game of concentration. Worse, even if you fail, the story still keeps going (LA Noir had this problem too), the idea being that if you did miss an important clue then how could you advance? You can't. So the game will have you "discover" things even if you missed them. I totally understand why this an issue for a medium that is interactive. I just don't need to keep playing them until they've solved it.
The irony is if this was a $15 PSN game (like Child of Light) I probably would be more forgiving. I do like playing mystery games to their conclusion. A sixty dollar price point is way too high for a game that has effective atmosphere, but clunky controls and worse antiquated design.
3. If You Want Next Generation Shooters... Um...
BUY THIS: Titanfall
A first-person shooter that offers more than meets the COD eye, Titanfall delivers online matches with a fresh take on the well-worn shooter genre. The biggest asset isn't controlling the huge mechs, but the wall-running that players do as a mere soldier - or as a mech. There's something inexplicably freeing happening every time I run up a wall, parkour style. It's not at all like any FPS before it. Yes, fans of Mirror's Edge might say that that game did it first, but the scale to which you're given freedom is beyond that game's tunnel-like structure.
Each part of the campaign is basically, a new multiplayer map. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since essentially, destruction and chaos is what most players are looking for. Still, I do wish there was some sort of story presented beyond the tedious voice-overs at the end of each mission. (OMG, the enemy just got away, on to the next map!) Bottom line: if you're looking for a compelling story you'll be disappointed. Truth be told, I was hoping this would have a narrative like the Gears of Wars trilogy with a built-in online party. Sadly, that is not the case. Still, I didn't mind it as much as long as I was concentrated on the destruction at hand.
NOT THIS: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Bethesda's reboot of the long-running Wolfenstein series has a terrific single player campaign as William "B.J." Blazkowicz fights to uncover just how the Nazis won WWII in an alternative universe. The supporting cast shines. The levels have variety. Yet... the gameplay is horribly dated: health packs... really? And why does B.J. still talk like a '90s muscle-bound cliché? It's not game-breaking like the Duke Nukem reboot, but still.
Plus, Wolfenstein has no online option. At all.
Will that discourage gamers from plopping down 60 bucks? I dunno, but I can see the same demo being annoyed that Titanfall is an online game only, as I have lost the connection plenty of times.
This is a choice you need to make for yourselves, dear gamers...but seriously, Titanfall.
Previously by Peter Paras: