Will Preston

Put me through to R & I!

by on Jun.07, 2011, under Review, Video Games

Monday Morning. I’m investigating the scene of a possible homicide. After driving like a Nascar berk through a highly pedestrianised part of LA without anyone batting an eyelash, we arrive at the ticker taped clearing with gawking rubber-neckers in tow. The body of an unidentified woman (naked) lies in a possible rape position. It’s the rendering of her netherings that catches my eye. Inspecting the body by rotating her arms until my hands rumble, I’m given more clues about the murder. Clues to the crime aren’t so much dotted, as they are conveniently placed.

Rotate right stick to play footsy

Again, a rumbling rotation reveals even more clues on the scene. A shaky bystander is being questioned by police. After snapping out of the trance brought on by the creepily realistic face movements, it’s up to me to believe everything she says or nail a dead otter to her head with the words ‘Liar’ written in mud. Her eyebrows tell me she has something to hide, but what? I wave the bloodied rope in her face in a vague effort at getting her to admit to the murder of Mrs Gleason, the bank robbery last week and the unauthorised eating of my sandwich back at central precinct. This all leads to nothing, so I’m forced into doing the whole thing again at the next crime scene.

 

Whilst most of the gameplay in LA Noire tends to follow a familiar pattern, there’s no doubting at how atmospherically thick it is. I mean, there is a point in some games where you never forget you’re playing a game, but thanks to some fantastic acting and the brand new motion capture technology that Rockstar have been Chinese Democracy-ing for the past seven years, I was convinced at times that I was watching a new TV series in a similar vain to Mad Men. I believe we have now reached a milestone in graphic technology in mainstream gaming where the lines between reality and a virtual environment will tangle like Alan Moore’s beard. It does require in depth gameplay and fluidity to make the escapist experience in this medium possible, but effort on the visual front does help the eyes pop out into the fantasy.

Cameras the size of children

As far as I’m concerned with LA Noire, it is the most well presented console game to date. Now that I’ve got all the shameless felating of the game visuals out of my system, I can get round to talking about the game itself. In short, it’s practically an adaption of LA Confidential. It’s the late 40’s, and Cole Phelps has been promoted to the ranks of detective within the world’s friendliest (sarcasm) police force. The course of the game takes you through several cases which you need to solve through a strung together series of point and click style searching, shooting, driving and fighting. Rather than stick to the sandbox style of play that Grand Theft Auto influenced just about every game out at the moment, LA Noire goes for a more separated approach. You’re never out of a mission, but you can free roam the city to an extent. Just don’t expect to go on a rocket launcher fuelled rampage that Rockstar usually fires at you. You’re a cop remember. Protect and Serve, is the LAPD’s motto.

 

Art Deco-tacular

Although the Euphoria engine still makes your character walk like he’s carrying too many Tesco bags full of oranges, the cars handle the best in any sandbox game that I’ve played. And they look bloody nice too. Marv from Sin City was right when he said that modern cars look like electric shavers in comparison. Noire-esque incidental music playing whilst tailing a suspect really completes the image. I’ve already bought myself some nice braces for my trousers. The trilby is next. Even the story has the potential to trump other top gaming narratives so far. There are a few twists that I can’t mention for health reasons and the dialogue is just perfect in places. As I said, a very well presented game.

 

The only possible downer is that there’s no real free roam in the Grand Theft Auto sense and there’s no multiplayer to laze into. But can that be a bad thing? Although it does limit the replay value, it makes the focused single player more fulfilling, like a well stuffed sandwich. Although you already know the outcome of each case, there are still many alternative ways to end it. Some with surprising results. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to listen to jazz in my trilby whilst talking like James Cagney. Being single is great.

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