PC Gamer
Nov 25, 2015
PC Gamer

Why I Love

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.

Community Announcements - community
Grand Theft Auto V is now available for Pre-Purchase on Steam!

Pre-purchase and receive $1,000,000 in-game ($500,000 for Grand Theft Auto V and $500,000 for Grand Theft Auto Online). Additionally, if you pre-purchase by February 1st. you will receive a bonus $300,000 for Grand Theft Auto Online and a free copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas!

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on L.A. Noire!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Tuesday at 10AM Pacific Time
PC Gamer
Watch Dogs IV

Chris Livingston has already extolled the virtues of Grand Theft Auto 4's amazing #WatchDogsIV mod. For the uninitiated, it brings Watch Dogs style environment hacking into GTA's Liberty City. For a full round-up of what it enables, head on over to Chris's Mod of the Week post. For a small look into the type of chaos it supports, stay right here.

Being a child, the first thing I did on loading the game was to start a traffic jam:

So far, so Watch Dogs. But the Traffic Lights prompt reappears quickly after. I wonder...

Yup. Multiple prompts means multiple pile-ups, meaning I can stack this thing right up. Time to do that. Everybody, welcome to the jam.

What makes this so funny other than the obvious is that the cars in the crash accelerate every time I hit the prompt, pushing them deeper and deeper into the ultra-jam. Also, as you can see from the picture above, a man has spontaneously combusted.

That's probably not a good sign.

Nope, definitely not a good sign. We have reached peak jam. It is jam-a-geddon.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this tanked the game's framerate. My rig battled on regardless to bring you this dramatic re-enactment.

You can download #WatchDogsIV from here, and you probably should.
PC Gamer
WatchDogs Mod

Like me, you've probably spent dozens of hours in Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City, but often wish there was some way to cause a little destruction and mayhem. Finally, there is! The #WatchDogsIV mod summons the sullen Aiden Pearce from Watch Dogs, and more importantly, brings along Aiden's awesome Phone of Hacking +4. Traffic lights, payphones, ATMs, security cameras, and those poles that shoot up out of the street: they're now yours for the hacking! The once utterly peaceful Liberty City is about to get flip-turned upside down.

Just about all the tricks up Aiden's futuristic trenchcoat sleeve are now at your disposal as you prowl the streets of Liberty City. Walk within range of a hackable object, and you'll get a little icon on your screen. Hold down the 'E' key, and the icon will be outlined. It works pretty much exactly as it does in Watch Dogs, right down to the little electrical tendrils that spread from Aiden's phone when he hacks something.

That public phone exploded! Thank god no one was using it for the last 10 years!

Naturally, triggering traffic lights is great fun, and dare I say it, causes even bigger and badder accidents than it does in Watch Dogs. You can also blow things up, though instead of steam fittings and electrical junctions, it's Liberty City's payphones that explode. (I know what you're thinking. Exploding payphones? That's utterly ridiculous: payphones don't even exist.) Those poles that pop out of the street work most of the time, and are great for keeping the cops off your tail when they come to investigate why everything is suddenly exploding.

Oh, LCPD. Will your humiliations ever end?

Speaking of the po-po, it seems like the entire Chicago policing system has been ported over from Watch Dogs. Commit a crime, and a nearby citizen may call the police on you. You'll hear the call taking place, and the eyewitness will be highlighted with an icon, allowing you to interfere before the 9-1-1 call is complete. If the call goes through, the police will be dispatched and your radar will show ctOS scanning for your location. The mod even has options to make the police better drivers and more accurate shooters, if you want to make things harder on yourself.

No more smashing cars yourself. There's an app for that.

There's more phone-foolery! You can now remotely activate car alarms like Aiden, though in Watch Dogs that was used to distract guards, and now it's mainly just useful for startling pedestrians. You can jump into security cameras, and use them to jump into other cameras, and set off other hackable objects while peering through the lens from a safe distance. And, while you can stop the trains, just like in Watch Dogs, there's not much point in doing so, just like in Watch Dogs. But, who needs to have a point? You have some new ways to terrorize the citizens of Liberty City, and that's its own reward.

Stop the train! No reason. Just wanted to see if I could do it. I could.

The mod makes you move like Aiden as well. When you walk, you'll stuff your hands in your pockets and keep your head down, which is the best way to avoid suspicion when you're a famous vigilante the entire city is after. There are new animations for giving you Aiden's awkward sprint, as well as his patented truncheon takedowns which can be performed on anyone you're standing near. There's also a blood-round-the-edges screen effect for when you take damage, which I guess was in Watch Dogs. I'm not sure. I was so good at that game I never took damage.

Beating you up for reasons that are unclear even to me!

I'm told that hacking an ATM will cause money to spray out of it, which will cause citizens to run over to collect it, which will naturally cause a huge fist-fight, which sounds quite amusing. I have to say, though, I drove around for ages and never spotted even a single ATM. You can also cause light fixtures to explode, scaring people, and overload soda machines, spilling cans everywhere. Basically, the mod lets you be a huge, destructive jerk in new and exciting ways, and that's what any good GTA IV mod should do.

Installation: Here's the page to download the mod, with a description of all its features and the control scheme. You'll need to use OpenIV to get the mod working, naturally. And, while the mod makes you run and act like Aiden, it doesn't make you look like Aiden. If you want his goofy trench coat and hat, you'll need to install a separate skin for it (I used this one).

Announcement - Valve
Save 75% on Max Payne 3 during this week's Midweek Madness*!

For Max Payne, the tragedies that took his loved ones years ago are wounds that refuse to heal. No longer a cop, close to washed up and addicted to pain killers, Max takes a job in S o Paulo, Brazil, protecting the family of wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco, in an effort to finally escape his troubled past. But as events spiral out of his control, Max Payne finds himself alone on the streets of an unfamiliar city, desperately searching for the truth and fighting for a way out.

Featuring cutting edge shooting mechanics for precision gunplay, advanced new Bullet Time® and Shootdodge™ effects, full integration of Natural Motion’s Euphoria Character Behavior system for lifelike movement and a dark and twisted story, Max Payne 3 is a seamless, highly detailed, cinematic experience from Rockstar Games.

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time
Shacknews - Robert Workman
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is conference that is known for high points that shake up the gaming world, along with low points that can't be shaken from memory. Not to say all the conferences are triumphant or memorable, but each stood out in their own way. Here are some of our favorite highlights over the years from the big event, and maybe we'll add on a few more after next week.
Announcement - Valve
The Rockstar Publisher Weekend continues today with great deals on Rockstar titles! From now through Monday* pick up titles up to 80% off!

Today's Daily Deal features the Grand Theft Auto IV up to 80% off!

*All discounts end Monday, March 17th at 10AM Pacific Time.


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