Rockstar's L.A. Noire is on track for a May release for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 which must mean that it's time for various retailers to start promoting store-specific exclusive preorder bonuses. Like Red Dead Redemption before it (among many, many other games), Rockstar's latest project has a bunch of content available that varies by store. If you want to get the complete L.A. Noire experience at one store... well, you can't. Not unless you preorder from four different places in order to collect everything. Normally we're just talking about some special clothes that add a little cosmetic upgrade to the protagonist, but for L.A. Noire we're also looking at special missions that you'll never get to play under normal circumstances. Joystiq has the list.
- Amazon: "The Broderick" Detective Suit boosts your fist-fighting capabilities and resilience to damage. Throughout L.A. Noire while working cases, you'll encounter quite a few suspects and persons of interest who prove to be resistant to arrest. Your hand-to-hand fighting skills will be called into action on these cases – the Broderick suit with its enhanced fighting abilities may be that edge in helping make that collar.
- Best Buy: "The Sharpshooter" Detective Suit enhances your aim with rifles and pistols. Always a worst case scenario for any detective working a case, there are of course those occasions for Cole Phelps when pursuing a suspect escalates to gunfire. In these tense shootouts, the Sharpshooter suit provides that extra aiming precision to take the criminal down.
- GameStop: 'The Naked City' Vice Case -- In this bonus case from L.A. Noire's Vice Desk, detective Cole Phelps investigates the supposed suicide of a stunning fashion model. Can you help Cole unravel the truth in a city blighted by drugs, corruption and greed, where the death of a beautiful woman is never as straightforward as it seems?; The Badge Pursuit Challenge -- Hidden around L.A. Noire's beautiful recreation of 1947 Los Angeles are 20 police badges to find and collect. If you can find all 20 of these badges, the dapper Button Man suit will be unlocked which provides extra ammo for all weapons. Each badge also provides 5 additional XP which will help further unlock Intuition Points – special credits that can be used to give Phelps a key investigative insight when you need it most.
- Wal-Mart: "A Slip of the Tongue" Traffic Case is a bonus case from the Traffic Desk in which a seemingly run of the mill car theft ends up sparking an explosive investigation into the largest auto fraud racket the city has ever seen. With the stolen cars piling up and questionable characters at every turn, can you help Cole Phelps crack the biggest case so far in his career?
I typically order my games from Amazon for the convenience factor (and sometimes they tend to run a little cheaper there; right now the retailer is offering a $10 with each preorder), but GameStop has the better bonus this time around with a bonus mission and extra objective (I'll take extra gameplay content over a costume any day). Heck, it seems that GameStop always has the better preorder bonus. Remember Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's extra playable character and access to the multiplayer beta? How about Batman: Arkham Asylum's extra challenge map? Uncharted 2: Among Thieves featured an early unlock for the revenge attribute and early multiplayer beta access. The list goes on.
I'm really tired of not being able to buy the complete game when I plunk down my $60. These piecemeal bonuses that are scattered all over town are the worst kind of fetch quest: one that exists in reality. Don't just take my word for it though. Over at TechnoBuffalo, Joey Davidson shares a similar sentiment:
It really drives me nuts when these things aren’t available in any way aside from shopping at a specific store. If I love a game enough, I find myself striving towards 100% completion. Odds are, if I pre-order a game I intend to love it enough to attain that completionist perspective. But here I stand, wanting to have every piece of L.A. Noire available; if I want to see, have and do everything possible in the game, I have to pre-order and purchase the title from four different outlets.
I get the need to drive sales through exclusivity. But on a certain, terribly childish level, I hate being forced to pick and choose which store should get my money based on the goods they offer.
Publishers have to keep the retailers happy, however, and these bonuses are an easy way of doing that. I fear that we're stuck with them for a while more (especially since for as much as I hate having to choose, I'm already mapping out a mental plan for preordering at GameStop in the next few weeks). Sometimes the preorder bonus items end up as paid DLC later on in the game's lifecycle, but not always. It's nearly two years later and I'm still waiting for those Ghostbusters: The Video Game extras.