Archive for June 9th, 2011

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L.A. Noire – Halfway Point Impressions

June 9, 2011

E3, I love you because I’m getting all excited for all these upcoming games, but you’ve also managed to completely kill my gaming mojo. It’s difficult to get motivated to play anything right now, when I’m thinking of all the new stuff that’s going to be coming out in the next year. If you’ve noticed, I’m also in a bit of an MMO slump at the moment, even though that has little to do with anything; Rift is just slowing down but I’m looking forward to the big update at the end of this month and I’m still logging in every day to play a little, and do my dailies like a good little chump.

Not that I mind the slow-down; sometimes a break from online gaming keeps me sane and it also gives me a chance to dust off my neglected Xbox 360 and play some single-player console.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been slowly working my way through L.A. Noire, the newest gem from developer Rockstar. I’m only about halfway in, just made it to Vice. Don’t get me wrong, I like their games, but like so many of their titles in the past, nothing about it really grips me and makes me feel I have to finish it as fast as humanly possible. At the same time, it works. I think Rockstar games are meant to be savored over time, or things will start to feel real repetitive, real fast.

L.A. Noire does have a certain je ne sais quoi to it though, something that separates it from anything Rockstar has made in the past. Cole Phelps, the character you play, is a good cop, a complete boy scout — which is a big shocker in itself already. I can’t punch a stranger in the face and start a street fight whenever I want, nor hogtie innocent civilians and leave them on the railroad tracks. You can, however, still drive like a maniac, which actually isn’t something I do deliberately, so that’s good news for me.

Speaking of which, recently I’ve been in discussions of whether or not driving is any easier or harder in this game compared to past Rockstar games. Despite the amount of property damage I do or the number of cars I go through, I’m actually not that bad an in-game driver. Really. I’m not. I swear. I’m just…reckless and don’t care enough. If that sounds contradictory, consider how I still manage to get into car accidents even when I strive to drive nicely and obey all traffic laws. Heck, even my damn partner got into a fender bender when I told him to drive — a bad one, which caused my jaw to hit the ground when it happened. It’s not just the controls, I think it’s also the AI which seems to have gone either completely suicidal or vindictive on me, causing other cars to turn blindly into my side or stop directly in my path. And no, Finbarr, the siren doesn’t help. Give me Red Dead Redemption, I prefer “driving” a horse any day.

But enough ranting from, because I doubt anyone is buying for a second that I don’t enjoy mowing down streetlamps or sending post boxes and newspaper stands flying. I need the outlet for my frustration, after all, from the interrogations. But while questioning suspects is the biggest challenge for me, it’s also fun as hell to read their faces and judge their movements and expressions. It has become my favorite aspect of the game. Mostly, catching them in their lies isn’t the problem, it’s accusing them of lying when they’re telling the truth which gets me every time. Apparently, I have trust issues.

Anyway, maybe it’s the more solemn nature of the game or the classy 1940s feel…or maybe it’s the fact you play a cop. But whatever it is, there’s an aura of sophistication around L.A. Noire that instills patience, thinking, and the willingness to put in the time. Or maybe it’s the other way around. The cases so far are excellent and well put together, the complexity evolving nicely as I go from Patrol to Traffic to Homicide to Vice and later Arson. I’ll probably go more into detail once I’m done; regardless, so far I’m enjoying myself.

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