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Rockstar s first foray into the uneven world of virtual reality isn t a GTA spin-off, or a brand new game, but instead VR version of Rockstar and Team Bondi’s 2011 detective romp, L.A. Noire [official site]. While the current generation of consoles are getting the whole game with added 4K support and the like, over on PC we’re in for a trimmed-down version redone as a Vive exclusive. (more…)
In a surprise announcement, Rockstar has announced L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files—an incoming virtual reality game for the HTC Vive.
Due November 14, The VR Case Files marks the Grand Theft Auto developer's "first steps into virtual reality" with seven "select" case from the original game. As you might expect, these have been rebuilt with VR in mind, however Rockstar doesn't detail the specifics in this news wire post.
Here's Rockstar with the skinny:
"L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files for HTC Vive delivers seven of the original engrossing, self-contained cases from L.A. Noire rebuilt specifically for virtual reality, blending breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience."
Alongside The VR Case Files, Rockstar has also revealed enhanced editions of the base game are en route to both Xbox One and PS4. These will come with all additional DLC inclusive, as well as a "range of technical enhancements for greater visual fidelity and authenticity, including enhanced lighting and clouds, new cinematic camera angles, high resolution textures and more."
PS4 Pro and Xbox One X owners can look forward to 4K support—however there's no mention of anything beyond the HTC Vive exclusive starring on PC.
Every week, we ask our panel of PC Gamer writers a question about PC gaming. This week: what game would you recommend to a complete non-gamer? We also welcome your answers in the comments.
What if football, but with cars? Rocket League took off precisely because it's so easy to pick up and play, with fast matchmaking, intuitive controls and short matches. Within one game, any player of any skill will get it.
And then the obsession begins. Cars fly overhead in your dreams. You wander through the streets imagining what would happen if that BMW over there did a backflip to score a goal. You haven't spoken to your parents in weeks because you're trying to climb the ladder in ranked. You started playing in January, but now it's August and you've played nothing else, and you've had Prey sat on your hard-drive for months. Maybe you should stop? "I think we should see other people," your partner says. "No problem." you reply. But did you say that, or were you merely selecting a quick chat option in yet another game of Rocket League? You're 80 years old and dead, and you only ever reached Gold II rank.
Anyway, yeah, Rocket League. Great game, regardless of skill level.
Technically Kerbal Space Program is a very difficult game. Just ask the many Kerbals who are stuck endlessly orbiting the various moons and planets I have tried to visit. But, while hard, its difficulty isn't abstract. Kerbal Space Program is difficult because going to space is difficult. By basing itself on real-world, observable concepts, its challenge makes sense. That makes it an incredibly effective starter game. Also the fact that, if in doubt, you can usually just add more rockets.
It's also good because its success is scalable. In sandbox mode, you're never punished for failure. Instead, you're given an opportunity to learn, tweak and reassess. It's a great teacher, not just of the physics of rocket science, but also of how games can support experimentation and play on the path to a greater goal.
Basically prestige TV in game form. A compelling series of mysteries to solve, proper actors bringing the characters to life, and a larger narrative of corruption and scandal to get swept up in. You don't even have to drive anywhere: just get your partner to do it for you. And if you're having trouble with the action sequences—gunfights, car chases, and so on—the game lets you just skip them. It has some problems, sure, but if you don't 'get' games, L.A. Noire will immediately make sense. Everyone loves a good detective mystery, and Rockstar's game presents its varied, mostly well-constructed cases with the lavish feel of a US TV drama.
I know, I know, but probably Hearthstone. I've been teaching my nephew on holiday and they've done a ton of work to make the new player experience more friendly. Until you start getting serious about trying to climb ladder, it's also a free-to-play game that you can genuinely have fun goofing around in without having to drop dollars. Tavern Brawls, Arena Runs, even just administering kickings to the Innkeeper AI are all a fine way to spend a few hours on your PC when you're supposed to be working. I should know.
You don't need any knowledge of game genres or complicated control schemes to play through this fascinating mystery. If you can Google, you can play Her Story. The game is a database of videoclips showing police interviews with a woman—is she a suspect, a witness, a victim? You search for key phrases to bring up new clips containing fresh clues to search for. The format is surprisingly good at delivering twists, and the game is particularly fun if you have friends around to help put the pieces together.
It's bright, it's colorful, it's amusing, and there's just about the most perfect learning curve in a game I can think of, where you're given just enough time to figure how to best use a new plant when a new zombie shows up, and you're just about on the brink of having your home invaded when the final zombie falls. There's also plenty of extra modes and activities that are fun to play around with. It's also addictive as hell, so even if it's their first game it won't be their last.
In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Andy walks the beat in Los Angeles.
I ve been to Los Angeles, and I didn t like it much. It s hot, it s crowded, it s filthy, and you can t walk anywhere. But as a setting for a work of fiction, it s one of my favourite places. From Raymond Chandler s Philip Marlowe novels to Ridley Scott s Blade Runner, the City of Angels is a resonant setting for a story. A lot of games are set there, but only one captures the dark, romantic urban sprawl found in the best LA fiction: Rockstar s ambitious, flawed detective adventure L.A. Noire.
Compared to Grand Theft Auto V s dense parody of the city, L.A. Noire s setting doesn t look all that impressive, at least not technically. But what has endured is its almost perverse attention to detail. Developer Team Bondi s reported budget for the game was $50 million, and you can see it in every lovingly detailed street corner, costume, prop, and licensed, period-appropriate vehicle. Playing L.A. Noire is like time travel, and it makes me wish more developers would squander obscene amounts of money creating authentic historical settings like this.
There are dozens of famous landmarks to visit, from Grauman s Chinese Theatre to the Bradbury building, but the impressive detail in L.A. Noire goes much deeper. I spent a good ten minutes just studying a breakfast table in a suspect s house. There are two plates with the remnants of toast and maybe beans. A salt and pepper shaker. A coffee pot. Some unopened mail. I imagined someone at Team Bondi researching, modelling, and texturing this stuff, and realised just how much love was poured into these environments. This kind of absurd, granular realism will be missed by most players, but even if you don t notice it, it s what makes L.A. Noire s settings so convincing.
You visit a lot of people s houses in L.A. Noire, from crummy one-room apartments to the palatial homes of the rich and famous. Every item of furniture, kitchen appliance, and food wrapper has been painstakingly researched and replicated. The interiors are cluttered and lived-in, and environmental clues will often subtly hint at the truth behind a case. Those plates, for example. The woman in the house says she s been alone all morning, so why are there two recently-eaten breakfasts on the table? The game doesn t point this little detail out, but leaves you to discover it for yourself.
Nosing around these cluttered interiors is encouraged as you search for clues and details to grill suspects about. An insurance policy, a photo torn in half, a love letter. But in the city itself, the detail is just there, and you re never forced to look at it. You can even skip the driving sections, forcing your partner to drive between crime scenes. But it s driving around where you really get a feel for the game s vivid urban landscape: the architecture, the cars, the fashion, the light, the mood. You ll drive past a diner and see people inside, eating hamburgers and reading newspapers. Drive to the top end of the map and you ll see the old Hollywoodland sign perched in the hills that loom over the city.
The music only adds to the powerful feeling of stepping into history.
One of my favourite details is the music that leaks through the windows of passing cars. L.A. Noire s radio station, KTI, enforces the period setting, and there s some really great music playing on there: Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters Pistol Packin Mama , T-Bone Walker s Bobby Sox Blues , Hank Williams Move It On Over . Anyone who s finished the game will have these tracks permanently etched into their brains. Combined with the visuals—and other touches such as advertising billboards and radio commercials—the music only adds to the game s powerful feeling of stepping into history.
It s a shame L.A. Noire came out in 2011, because just imagine how its period city would look recreated by today s technology. I really doubt Rockstar will ever return to it, especially now that Team Bondi is no more, but I hope they do. Not only do I want to see a version of 1940s Los Angeles with the visual fidelity of GTA s Los Santos, but I feel that the detective elements could be fl eshed out more. L.A. Noire is an enjoyable police procedural, but it still feels to me like a proof of concept for something much grander. Reviews were mixed, and many people look back on the game as a failed experiment, but I ll always love it and its remarkable city. I won t be returning to the real place any time soon, though.
Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Adam’s 2012 article singing the praises of videogame cities which are more than mere reconstruction, but are built from the bricks and mortar of ideas.>
I’ve been visiting various cities recently, which always fill me with confusion and wonder, then Dishonored made me think about how much I miss Looking Glass. Put the two together and this happens. Join me in a meandering word-search for cohesion and theme in the use of the city across Thief, and the selected works of Rockstar and Charles Dickens. Be warned, there are spoilers for all three Thief games.