This Week in Gaming May 17th, 2011

More naked gaming poon than you can shake a jar of lube at.

More naked gaming poon than you can shake a jar of lube at.

L.A. Noire

Price: $59.99

Platforms: Xbox360, PS3

Official Site

What’s it about? Dead hookers, B-listers, child molesters, drug addicts, and corrupt officials – just a typical day in Los Angeles. Wade through the dregs of humanity in the gumshoes of Cole Phelps, a rising star in the LAPD whose murky past may or may not come back to haunt him.

How does it look? 

Rockstar Games never fails to deliver in the graphics department. LA Noire shares the style of its GTA brethren, but focuses more on the story unfolding through cut-scenes. The optional Black and White-only mode adds a fair bit of moodiness and helps the game live up to its Noire namesake. Spoiler Alert: Dead Hooker bush is equally awkward whether in color or black and white.

Is it any good? It depends on what kind of gamer you are. If you’re looking for the next entry in GTA’s run and gun gameplay, look elsewhere. If you’re a fan of GTA’s controls and style and firmly believe that video games are the future of storytelling, then buckle the fuck up because the future is now and you’re in for one helluva ride.

Out of ten? 8.5. Sheer innovation puts LA Noire on the short list of titles that push the boundaries of what a video game can be and we respect that. In proper Rockstar style, the cast is outstanding and littered with recognizable faces and voices, 1947’s LA is recreated in unparalleled detail, and the story is gripping in a way that’s seldom found outside of a hit television series. Slow pacing and repetitive mission objectives are the only drawbacks here, but they could prove to be the difference between LA Noire being just a cult hit or another Rockstar Games blockbuster.

If I like this, what else will I like?Grand Theft Auto IV, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Alan Wake, Clue and CGI vajajay.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Price: $49.99

Platforms: PC

Official Site

What’s it about? You mean besides a naked Sorceress? The Witcher 2 picks up where the original left off, right after the attempt on King Foltest’s life, and again focuses on Geralt of Rivia thwarting the Kingslayer and his assassins. The game is firmly planted in the RPG category and, though the world found within is enormous, certain aspects and locations of the game may go untouched depending on the choices you make and the outcome of your decisions.

How does it look? Significantly better than the original, thanks to a custom-made engine courtesy of Poland’s CD Projekt RED studio. The environments have a gritty realism to them that lend a sense of gravity to the game and makes traversing the world a welcome, though eerie, experience. Also, did we mention Triss’ boobies?

Is it any good?The Witcher 2 builds on the rich plot of the original while making big leaps in graphics and combat. There has also been a conscious effort to de-linearize the game, making each playthrough unique, and fans of the series will be well-rewarded for their loyalty (although outsiders might have a hard time picking it up).

Out of ten? 7.5. New customization options, more action, and 16 different endings help set The Witcher 2 apart, but the whole thing feels like it’s been done before… mostly because it has.

If I like this, what else will I like?Dragon Age, Fable III, having your birthday at Medieval Times

The First Templar

Price: $49.99

Platforms: Xbox360, PC

Official Site

What’s it about? The quest for the Holy Grail during the Crusades. Take on corrupt kings, evil inquisitors, and boatloads of disposable minions as you mash buttons solo or quest with a friend. Note to the loser of the coin toss: You’ll be playing as a chick named Marie while your “friend” gets to play as a knight. Sucks for you, brah.

How does it look? Unfortunately, not great. At its best, The First Templar looks generic. At its worst, it’s downright bad. Cut scenes come off as an extraneous hindrance to the action and much of what we saw had us wondering if this was an XBLA release.

Is it any good? It’s not bad for a button-masher, but it does feel like an Assassin’s Creed rip-off and, at that point, why not just play AC itself? We were hoping for a plot that would set The First Templar apart, but the twists were obvious and the story comes off muddy.

Out of ten? We’re gonna give this one a 5. Nothing to write home about, but if you’ve played the shit out of Assassin’s Creed and are looking for a new fix, you’ll probably find some things to like about The First Templar.

If I like this, what else will I like?Assassin’s Creed, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy X, Dan Brown shlock.