Thick Moustache: Gentlemanly Studies on Modern Leisure

Week of 5/16/11 – Annual Rockstar Release

Posted by Asif on May 17th, 2011

Ken Cosgrove means serious business.

There are a couple of big releases this week, including LA Noire and The Witcher 2. One major release that I won’t be talking about is Fable III, which is finally coming to the PC. That’s all I really want to say about it, because I’ve had enough of fantasy games. Every week I have to write about a new fantasy game coming out. I’m sick of it, game developers. Put down the 12-sided die and try setting a game somewhere without dragons or orcs or elves. Look out your window. What do you see? Make a game about that. If you see a midget outside and you tell yourself it’s a dwarf, just punch yourself in the face and try again.

LA Noire (5/17/11)

One of the main features that’s been trumpeted about LA Noire is the incredibly realistic faces and the technology that went into creating them. It’s really impressive, even if there end up being brief moments when the characters look like they’re wearing rubber masks instead of unsettling technology-fueled human flesh masks. In the end, though, I’m not sure those brief moments matter.

As long as LA Noire’s facial animations do their job, show me more of the nuance in an actor’s performance, and allow me to tell if someone is lying during questioning, I’ll be fine with it. The people who really need this technology to work are the Internet and texting obsessed youth who don’t know what facial expressions mean anymore. Lack of real human contact can do that to you. It’s true. Ask a hardened criminal in solitary confinement or most teenagers.

There should be required facial expression training before these maladjusted kids try to assimilate into the general population later in life. I think LA Noire could be part of that solution. The last thing anybody wants is one of these teenagers wandering into the world scared and confused, then carving up a total stranger for smiling without using the appropriate emoticon. I’d like to get these dangerous lunatics in check before I run into one on the street.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (5/17/11)

The original Witcher, a fantasy RPG, featured “sex cards” that the player would collect each time the main character, Geralt, bedded a new bosomy maiden. The card usually depicted the woman looking on longingly and forgetting to put her top on. It’s not really clear who was giving you these cards, but you’d have to assume it was the woman Geralt had just had his way with. This leads to some tough questions, like why do they have trading cards of themselves and why are they handing them out like Halloween candy?

Despite having perfect names for making cards of partially nude women, collectible card manufacturers Topps and Upper Deck don’t exist in this fantasy world. I think the only reasonable explanation for the cards existing is that there is an underground collectable card economy and the women involved, by which I mean all women, are only paid with copies of their own rookie card. Even in a fantasy world rookie cards must be pretty valuable, as long as you’re willing to deal with a sweaty-palmed mole-man card collector.

I don’t know what improvements they’re making to this vital game mechanic for the sequel, but I’m sure the sweaty-palmed mole-man developer that originally cooked this up has some great ideas.

Pinball FX 2: Marvel Pinball – Fantastic Four (5/17/11)

I wasn’t aware that there was a huge cross-section between the old guys who love imaginary pinball and the old guys who love the Fantastic Four. All I know is that the cross-section of body odor between those guys must be lethal. A huge thanks goes out to the Pinball FX 2 team for making sure that those people stay in their homes and the hell away from me.

DETOUR (5/16/11)

This is the kind of game the indie scene exists to create. It’s a real-time strategy game where the player guides a defenseless delivery truck through a battlefield. That’s really a game that exists. The concept sounds interesting, so let’s see what the developer has to say:

With DETOUR, Sandswept Studios has put a colorful twist on the RTS genre, creating a game that is both simple to learn, and complex to master – like a chess game with bombs!

There are lessons here for all independent studios. First, don’t make any words in your game’s title all-caps. It’s silly, and every time I want to tell someone about your game I have to brave the possibility of looking like a moron who inexplicably writes things in caps. Second, don’t ever include phrases such as “like [blank] with bombs!” or “like [blank] on acid!” in any promotional material under any circumstance. It’s a dumb cliché and it’s not helping sell your game. I’m sure someone thought it was really cute, but here’s something that’s not cute: if some psychopath says you have to describe your game with something that sounds even remotely like either of those phrases or you’ll have to cut off your own hand, just do yourself a favor and cut off your hand.

He's adorable. That 'game of chess with bombs!' crap is not.

Hey, indie developers. I want to play a game. It's called 'You've Come This Far. Try Slightly Harder'.

As long as they’ve made a good game, I want the DETOUR team to be successful, but they need to get someone who isn’t the texture artist to write their copy. The game still looks kind of interesting, but come on, guys, let’s get it together. Writing three sentences in a row that make me actually want to play your game is also part of the development process, which I’m sure you poured your hearts into. You can still turn this around, but fire whoever thought it was a good idea to write DETOUR in caps; that guy is useless.

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