Sunday, January 1, 2012

KGB Game of the Year 2011: Chris Linendoll

Unlike the other editors here at KGB, I found 2011 to be incredibly underwhelming game-wise. Several games came-and-went after huge amounts of fanfare (Is anyone playing Modern Warfare 3?) and I found even more failed to live up to high expectations (Bastion, I still don't get it.) There were a few gems over the past 12 months, and it's actually fairly easy for me to choose my Game of the Year for 2011: L.A. Noire.

If this site was around in 2010, my pick for Game of the Year would've been Red Dead Redemption, hands down. I fell in absolute love with Red Dead, and even after completing the game to 100%, I still went back to explore that majestic open world. Rockstar's follow-up to Red Dead this year was L.A. Noire. And while not developed in-house, AND even after a very nasty and public dissolution of Team Bondi, L.A. Noire remains my pick for 2011.

Everything I love about L.A. Noire has very little to do with the actual gameplay of the title. While some of regarded Noire as a modern day point-and-click adventure title, there is so much more to it than that. The open world is a character in and of itself, and while there may actually be very little to do in it beyond the missions, the attention to detail and the scope of the in-game world in breath-taking. Reading DBethel's story about his dad being able to navigate his way through 1940s Los Angeles, on memory alone, speaks volumes to the level of care that went into crafting the game.

The ground-breaking facial animation in L.A. Noire is one of it's major selling points, and it's easy to see why. Never before has the use of actual actors played such a large part in the storytelling of a videogame. The emotions on the actors faces as Cole Phelps investigates the underworld of L.A. is a major turning point in videogame technology. And I can admit that this tech did come at some costs: there is a lack of side activities, the textures on the characters models are rarely up to the quality of the facial scanning, and the frame rate takes a hit in some portions of the game.

But even with its flaws, L.A. Noire stands head and shoulders above the crop of game releases this year for me. While I loved Batman: Arkham City, and have spent a good amount of time with both Mortal Kombat and WWE '12, L.A. Noire tickled all my fancies. And I guess I should mentioned I haven't played Skyrim yet, so look for that to be my 2012 Game of 2011.


  1. Modern Warfare 3 set all the first day, first week, first to a billion records despite you not caring. It came in went for you, but to millions of others they still play it.

    *I don't have MW3*

    I liked the final flashback in LA Noire when Cole Phelps yells "Stop screaming!" That resonated with me.

    You must not be a trilogy gamer, since this was the pinnacle of trilogy games.

  2. I know MW3 set all those records. So SOMEONE is playing it. But *I* personally NEVER hear anyone talking about that game. MY friends list is full of people playing Skyrim, Gears, and several different XBLA games. Modern Warfare 3 may be a popular game, but is very far from the zeitgeist.

    And I never thought about it before, but i guess it IS very hard for me to maintain excitement for a series through 3 games. I fell off at #2 on several franchises (AssCreed, Gears, MW2, Fable) The only "3" that I can think of being excited for is Mass Effect.

    Thats a very interesting point you made, Turbo.

  3. Yeah, I'd have to agree and say that none of my friends are playing MW3 either, that I know of. I think it's a similar phenomenon to the Transformers movies- they sell very well, but they hardly set the world on fire, and rarely do they spark much conversation after initial release.

    I'm not really much a trilogy gamer either, Mass Effect being my exception as well

  4. There is nothing to discuss content wise in a Call of Duty game that would last over half an hour.

    Maybe the reason we don't have friends lists with MW3, is because we and our friends have been playing videogames longer than 4 years. A lot of peoples first experiences with online gaming has been Call of Duty games.

    Most of the millions who play Call of Duty are newcomers to HD console gaming.

  5. I don't know anyone playing MW3 either, actually, although I acknowledge a metric fuckton of people must be playing it.

    That said, RE: LA Noire, I found myself losing steam and unable to finish it. I got maybe halfway through the Homicide serial killer arc and just couldn't bring myself to interrogate one more man, or rotate one more arm.

  6. Hearing a lot of the discussion that came out surrounding this game, mostly about how clumsily the game handled your interrogation missteps, really turned me off to this game, which I was quite impressed with at PAX East.

  7. The misunderstanding of the interrogation came from people who wanted to "play correctly" and get 5 stars on every case. The game is set up so you PURPOSEFULLY fuck up a case or two and charge the wrong guy. It sets up the internal crisis that Cole Phelps struggles with in the second half of the game. Playing LA Noire with a guide, and trying to do/see it all your first time through a mission is absolutely the wrong way to play and enjoy LA Noire.

    That being said, the homicide mission DOES drag, quite a bit towards the last two cases. It really picks up at the end of that desk though, and the VICE and ARSON desks are great. Give it another go.