It takes exactly 3 minutes and 40 seconds to become excited by L.A. Noire. There will be those of you – like me – who have been enraptured by the prospect of a Rockstar game following detectives in 1940s Los Angeles ever since the debut trailer surfaced over four years ago. Since then, Rockstar’s formidable reputation for storytelling has been bolstered further by the magnificent Red Dead Redemption, and that talent is being unleashed on the same mean streets once explored by Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy.
And if you’re still not convinced, 3 minutes and 40 seconds is the time it will take you to watch this preview of Motion Scan, the ground-breaking facial capture technology that could make L.A. Noire a creative milestone.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
At last year’s execrable Spike Videogame Awards, the single biggest cheer of the night wasn’t for the confused minor celebrities clogging up the red carpet. No, that honour was reserved for the announcement trailer of The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim, despite the fact that it showed nothing more than a carved, stone dragon.
Since the initial rush of excitement a few shards of reliable information have been revealed by Bethesda, the most important of which is the news that Skyrim will be built on an entirely new engine – better graphics, better load times, and most importantly, no more stilted conversations with dead-eyed NPCs. If that doesn’t get you going, you may well be dead.
The Old Republic
There will be successes and failures in 2011; some expected, some a surprise, but no publisher is betting bigger than Electronic Arts with The Old Republic. After years of largely fruitless effort, MMO developers have finally come to terms with the fact that making a “WoW killer” is a fanciful pursuit at best, but EA is having one last swing for the fences.
BioWare is arguably the most consistent development studio in the industry – only Valve and, fittingly, Blizzard run it close – and the popularity of Star Wars simply isn’t up for debate, but the success of The Old Republic is far from guaranteed. One thing’s for sure: if BioWare, Star Wars and $100 million isn’t enough to crack the MMO market, it will be a long time before a major publisher tries again.
There’s an excellent chance you’ve never heard of thatgamecompany. The California-based independent studio shot to fame with two PlayStation Network games, flOw and Flower – ethereal, meditative games that reject traditional concepts like winning, losing and difficulty for something more profound.
This approach has alienated some, but whether you ‘get’ what thatgamecompany is doing or not, its games are anything but stale and derivative. Journey is its first foray into online multiplayer, and from what I’ve seen so far it’s more concerned with the interplay between isolation and communication than shooting terrorists in the face. For the want of a better phrase, bring it on.