L.A. Noire: About 4 hours in

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3rd session of LA Noire: After my first impression, I got used to the game. I start to miss the thing now when I am not playing. It helps to squint a bit and pretend you are not playing a game. That’s always helpful, but especially with L.A. Noire. When I look at it with cold analytical eyes, I see different repetitive game mechanics juxtaposed, drive, talk, shoot, chase, drive, talk, shoot…. If I forget about that and allow myself to sink into the game, I feel I am inside a crime movie, solving cases. Like when children manage to forget about the sticks, they suddenly are pirates with swords.

Especially the clue searching parts. Interrogations got better, but still sometimes too hard. Depending on the witness. Chases on foot are insane, I feel my character is out of shape compared to what the developers expected. Without the radar, no way in hell could I catch a fleeing suspect. You sometimes see 0.5 to 2 seconds of them before they are out of sight. If you happen to have your camera not manually pointing in the right direction, no chance in hell. 90% of the time I run towards the red dot on my radar and try to figure out where they jumped or climbed or whatever…  My first chase I needed to try like 6 times…

I am at my 3rd real case, these are small, quite simple. More Derrick than Agatha Christie or Bulle von Tölz. Somebody should do the exact same game without the shooter elements, and with harder non-linear cases (like Poirot novels), with more cases as DLC… That would be awesome. I read 50 Poirot books. Imagine a great looking game, where you buy DLC like you buy a new crime novel, same characters and graphics, but new case, new suspects, new murderer… That would be insane and a gold mine. I would buy 50 of that, too. It’s all about the cases, the suspense, and the solution after all.

Maybe they get more sophisticated. So far I solved the cases much faster than the game expected me to. And I am not too bright, I am just used to Poirot and Sherlock Holmes.

Still, I stick to my motto, to take a game as it is, and therefore, with the aforementioned squinting, I enjoy a stylish game. But I can never suppress my imagination running wild when I play a good game, I always come up with a dozen things to make it better (in my personal opinion). Is this a modern disease? It is easy to find music or art which is “perfect” and “divine”. But it is extremely hard to find a game that is not in some aspects “stupid”, “simple”, “only a game”. Which is OK but I would prefer the games to reach out of the screen, to spin my mind, suck me in like a book, amaze me so that I forget my name or where I live.

 

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1st hour of L.A. Noire

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L.A. Noire is a new console game vaguely like Mafia or Grand Theft Auto, but you play a cop in 1947, solving crimes with Film Noire elements.

Here are my first impressions: Very stylish logo + menu. Game can be switched to Black & White, how cool is that. It drives as usual (and so far too long), shoots and hits as usual. Running is smoothly parcour (no buttons). Faces as good as you think, examination works really well. You lean over a body, move your hand along it, click, which zooms in, you can then move arm, head, or open his jacket to find a clue. The clues are always visible in the graphics, e.g. you turn a zoomed gun with your controller and find an inscription. Very immersive. Also: All doors that you can walk through are marked with a golden handle, that’s a very good idea. No more running into cardboard house fronts.

Interrogation a bit of a downer: it’s multiple choice (true, lie, doubt or sth) and every wrong answer restarts the whole interrogation. Not solved well. Sometimes it’s not clear what they want from you. If he lies, and you “doubt” his statement, still wrong! You need to click “Lie”. And if he says the truth, and you “doubt” him (which you always should as a cop), WRONG, try again, whole scene starts again. It took me 5 tries, and always the same unskippable dialogue.

But I love how he writes and sketches everything into his notebook, and you choose questions, places to go to etc. from your notebook. Sweet. Jazzy music meets Thriller-style orchestral music (many live musicians), very cool. The music also fulfills some purposes (e.g. telling you when you found all clues).

The whole package is of course great. Single cases, you play the cop up the career ladder.. So far, it still misses some charme, it feels wooden, no story arch. But it’s still tutorial-like, I hope that comes with time.