Tuesday, 28 February 2012

LA Noire, game or story book?



I understand that LA Noire has been out for an age and a half now but I am only now playing it. I picked is up at a well known store for very few of my English pounds for my PS3 (I was going to pick it up on the PC as is proper but it was so very cheap that I couldn't resist). It's probably worth saying that I have none of the DLC and have no intention of getting any at this time. 

The game rather irritatingly starts off in a dark alleyway, where regrettably I spent more time than was needed looking for, well, anything. The game did not give me any real idea what to do. Until I slowly figured out the early clues it was like being in a remake of the original 'Alone in the Dark' game.
I was quickly guided almost as if I where on rails to becoming a member of the Traffic desk of law enforcers where I did little but investigate dead people. 

The whole experience in traffic went badly for me ending in a shoot out at a movie studio. Then it was off to homicide; where I continued looking at dead bodies, but these where naked ones (which it nice if you like that sort of thing I suppose) 

I am, at this time only now after I would guess, about six hours of game-play beginning to understand what this game is about. 

LA Noire is not really a game. It try's to be a modern take on the 'Point and Click Adventure' but at the same time it ignores the traditions of the genre (items and combining) in favour of its conversation system. The facial animation and voice work is so good that you really can sniff out a lie if your paying attention without the game slapping you about the face with it. 

Each 'Case' is around forty minutes of game play on average. It starts as a TV show with the title of the case, a little cryptic snippet of the crime in action and then your character is given the task of bringing justice to the world. You drive (Always) to the scene where you look for clues. The mechanic is that you walk around until the controller vibrates and you push 'X' (I wonder if Columbo does that) once you have all the clues the very serious background music stops and you go talk to the witness/suspect. Usually you get an address from a clue or conversation and have to visit a new location to repeat the whole processes. Eventually some one shouts 'Your nicked son' (they don't, but you get the idea) and the case is over after a celebratory little conversations video. - Next case starts.

The thing that fascinates me is that as long as your paying attention to the plot you actually can't loose. even when you have to chase a suspect or drive a car there is the option to 'skip action sequence' if you fail for than a few times. In many ways its not a game, if you can't loose I don't see how it can be called game in any real terms.

What is strange is that even after all this, I am really enjoying the 'plod' through the game. It's more about the slowly unfolding story and as everyone who reads this site is probably aware I'm a sucker for a story.

LA noire is a story book with some interesting twists and turns (so far anyway) but it may have benefited from being constructed as an interactive movie and totally dropped those game play elements that distract from the 'cases' well constructed narrative.

As I said its been out for quite some time now so none of what I have said will come as a surprise but this is my current take on the game and I enjoyed sharing it with you.

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