Thursday, May 19, 2011

L.A. Noire (Day Two)

* The wife and I knocked out cases six, seven, and eight last night. Things are going to get spoiler heavy from here, so let me just say that the game really gets cooking with case seven, and both it and the following case were truly satisfying. This game isn't for everyone, but stick with it through the traffic missions.

* Yesterday, I regaled you with a story of my wife's simulated driving. Trust me, if you want a white-knuckle experience with L.A. Noire, and if you're concerned about your case rating, hand the controller over to someone who doesn't play a lot video games for the driving segments.

She's getting the hang of it now, and I'm both sad and surprised to say that it isn't anywhere as fun now that she isn't a loose cannon terrorizing the city streets.

* It really is a trip to recognize a lot of character actors from TV and movies -- especially when you realize you're seeing their body language and facial tics.

* And was that Elizabeth Moss and Michael Gladis playing the two witnesses at the diner in case six? I couldn't confirm it on IMDB, but they're often unreliable about video games.

* I enjoyed case six, but like the case before it, it tips its hand far too early with one clue that solves the whole mystery for the player, which leaves you feeling like Cole Phelps is playing catch-up to get to where you're at already. The next two cases are better at syncing your experience with Cole Phelps'.

* Finally turned off auto-aim last night, and I was finally able to enjoy the shoot-outs, especially the one at the end of case seven. That being said, Cole Phelps can take an absolutely ridiculous amount of punishment. Seriously, multiple bullet wounds without flinching. At this point, I think the whole war hero and ace detective pose is something Phelps does to pass the time until Sarah Connor is born.

* So maybe I'm nitpicking, but as enjoyable as the final shoot-out at the movie set is, it's quite out of character from the rest of the game, feeling like something out of an 80's action movie, instead of 40's noir thriller. I'm not going to complain too much -- shooting fake Tommy Guns at fake gangsters is the sort of thing I live for -- but I will say this:

Red barrels that explode? Really, Rockstar/Team Bondi? Really?

* Second Rockstar game in a row with full frontal nudity. Surprisingly, I don't remember hearing a peep out of the media for the scene in Red Dead Redemption, which felt a bit crass and exploitative. While the nudity did have a purpose in that scene, it still felt like Rockstar was saying, "Hey, look what we just did!" to cable news outlets.

The nudity in case eight was surprising -- even shocking -- but it felt honest. It'll be a shame if the media sinks its teeth into this one.

* We got four stars on case eight on our first try, but I don't feel like we deserved it. SPOILERS HERE: I went to the actual killer's house before interrogating Jacob, thinking I would get as much evidence as I could before interviewing him. But if you go to the killer's house, the case ends with a successful completion, without knowing if Jacob had any involvement in his wife's death. I replayed it to speak with Jacob a second time, but I didn't get much out of it.

I'm assuming we'll see the killer again and learn more about this case in a later mission. If not, we seriously missed something.

* During our final case last night, my wife turned to me and said, "Hey, don't we still have that bottle of Scotch?" After acknowledging her inherent allure and sexiness, I said yes and grabbed the bottle, two glasses, and some ice. At this point, we got firsthand data that backs up a hypothesis that L.A. Noire and so many other noir dramas have postulated again and again:

Booze + Detective Work = Fail.

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