A few quick items:
L. A. Noire is in the books, now, and I’m quite torn about the game. To be blunt: the only reason I stayed with the game after the halfway point was my interest in the characters & seeing what became of them. There is precious little gameplay on offer here, and most of it is railroaded and overly simplistic. It’s said that L.A.Noire is a throwback to adventure mystery games of old, but the ones I remember were fairly open-ended. The player chose where to go, who to interview, and who to accuse. L.A.Noire leads you by the nose, step-by-step; the right destination in the game is infallibly the next destination in your notebook. The game’s claim to fame – the interrogating of suspects – is a great story device and impressive tech demo, but staggeringly easy. Think I’m wrong? Apply the following strategy. First, is the person someone clearly unimportant to the case, other than a minor witness? If the answer is no, then exclude the “Truth” option. Does the person shift their eyes or head at all after responding, or look at you smugly? Pick between “Doubt” and “Lie” based on the following 100% accurate formula: look at your notebook; if you have a clue that will directly contradict the person’s statement, pick lie; otherwise, pick doubt. And that’s it.
Shadows of the Damned is a wonderful, satisfying, hilarious romp that provides gameplay in spades. If you like Robert Rodriguez movies, check it out.
Dungeons & Dragons is in trouble, in my opinion. 4th Edition has many good ideas, but two key failings: (1) it’s awash in complexity, and (2) it discarded all the unique, fluffy trappings that gave D&D its special flavor in favor. It is a mechanically competent if bland cocktail right now, that results in hour-long combats and a loss of the dungeon-crawl feel of old. Mages, in particular, have been gutted, with their odd and eclectic spell lists discarded in favor of a system that merely tells you how many dice to roll. A shame. A series of articles on wizards.com/dnd suggests that WotC is aware of the problem, but how will they address it? A system that simplified & streamlined the combat rules, returned mages to their old, flavorful state, and recaptured the lost essence of the past would be ideal. (As a side note, much of what I think doesn’t work in 4th E is driven by the mandatory miniatures/grid combat. Now that WotC is out of the miniatures business, perhaps they will return to the abstracted combat of previous editions? I don’t want to manage attacks of opportunity, grid movement, or the like. I want to declare something like “I do a somersault over the head of the guards and attack the evil priest!”, and roll a few dice to see how that turns out.)