August 22, 2012

L.A. Noire (Part 1)

I have heard many things about L.A. Noire. I have heard things about its story. I have heard things about its gameplay. I have heard conflicting opinions about how it holds up as a game. Most of all, I have heard about how it is frighteningly long and that I better like crime solving or I may find the next week troubling to say the least. I have heard that L.A. Noire tends to focus more on the plot rather than the blood and shattered bones of combat and explosions which is refreshing I suppose. HA! Not likely! The only time you’ll ever see me turn my back on a glorious explosion is when I’m channeling my badassery by slowly walking away from the disturbance with a nonchalant expression as I put my shades on and brush nonexistent dust of my shoulders. On to the point though, it is strange and rare to see a game on the shelves that differs from the casual gore that litters my pile of games these days. I like to fancy myself as one with an open mind, and I quite like the idea of a game without the promise of the innards of a human being splattering the screen.

And so I pop in the first of three disks to come and witness the flickering lights of L.A. Noire. Developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar, L.A. Noire is a neo-noir crime solving game featuring our protagonist, Cole Phelps. Set in 1947 in Los Angeles, California, the game follows Detective Phelps as he progresses through the ranks of the Police Department while solving crime cases with intuition, intellect, a Ford V8 Sedan, and the old trusty pistol when things start getting out of hand. Phelps is an acclaimed war hero, having earned a Silver Star from a battle with the Japanese during the war. He returned and landed a spot on the LAPD to fight the good fight in the war of justice and crime.

L.A. Noire is not a run and gun, slice and dice action game. A majority of your time will be spent waddling around the crime scene examining inconspicuous objects and making ambitious if a bit far fetched conclusions from said objects. Some of the important objects are very small and discreet and can be easily missed by the eye when amidst of the blood stained body of the victim. The game helps you by playing little musical queues that indicate different things. There’s the soft chime and vibrate of the controller when you’ve stumbled across an object worth of inspection. There is the note of disapproval when you have stared at an insignificant object while trying to discern its meaning. There is the mysterious music when there are more clues to be found at the scene. There is the forebodingly victorious ring when you have uncovered all of the clues. There is the sound of suspicion when you have caught someone in a lie, and the tone of failure when you have wrongly accused or trusted a suspect. The little bits and pieces of melody help you progress through the game better and more efficiently, but learning which note means what can be difficult at first. The fact that all the music sounds ominous to some degree doesn’t help because learning the difference between the sound of success and the sound of wrongful execution is essential to know to say the least.

Honestly, so far I have had quite a bit of fun with L.A. Noire. Learning the ropes makes me feel like I was supposed to have taken a weekly correspondence course, but I am getting the basics down. I am not sure how long I can hold out before I start having seizures from explosion withdrawals but for the meanwhile, staring at murdered bodies while trying to figure out the precise time and cause of death will suffice.

Image Credit: Rockstar Games

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