(It was a typical dark San Francisco afternoon.) I was in my office, reading the newspaper, when some broad came walking through my door. My memory of her's a bit hazy. Maybe it was the half empty bottle of whiskey sitting on my desk, or maybe it was the fact that she was a plot device meant to get this thing going. None of that's important. She had this peculiar look on her face, like she couldn't handle this alone. I asked her what was what, and she tossed me this file she was holding in her coat. "L.A. Noire", it read. Well, I looked over the documents, took the cigar out of my mouth, looked at that fine dame, and told her, "You know what? You got yourself a case."
The place: Los Angeles, 1947. Our fine boys have returned home after just getting wind that World War II ended two years prior, and they return home to a wretched hive of scum and villainy. You can't turn a street corner without somebody stiffing you up for cash. In enters Cole Phelps, a real Beoulve if I've ever seen one. This modern day Sigurd decides to join the LAPD to clean the streets of all the crime, even if he has to go against his superiors to do it. At first, I didn't see anything suspicious about this. Everything added up just fine. This city really was full of scumbags, and my research easily confirmed that it was the 1940s. (That may not sound like much, but details like these can make or break a case.) I couldn't avoid it; his story checked out: he really was a detective trying to improve a corrupt city, and it really did leak to the top. But then I started thinking it out, and nothing added up. Why so many cutscenes? This suspect was claiming to be a video game, but I wasn't believing his alibi. All the focus on lighting and idle chit-chat and the cutscenes. Way too many cutscenes to be a video game, and eyes too small and noses too big to be a Japanese video game. And then it hit me: the suspect thought it was a movie. Of course! It was so obvious! Why else would it focus so much on the spectacle? Why else would it give me a partner I could completely abandon at will without consequence? Things were still confusing (I don't think I've ever seen a movie where detectives clumsily got caught on corners), but I finally had a place to start with this bastard.
In fact, nothing about this suspect was making any sense. There were all these stories in the case file, and every one of them was tripping over the other one. The most prominent story was about its time as an open world game. Said that it created a neat little world full of things to find. Secret cars, street crime, newspapers that hold more than they logically should, mysterious floating hats, adamantium trees, films reels, downloadable content, that type of stuff. I wasn't buying any of it, though. Why would I ever bother with all the landmarks and street crime in Los Angeles? There are bigger criminals on the loose; does he really expect me to tackle such petty crime in the middle of the biggest murder case this city has ever seen? And for having a lot of cars, there really aren't any street races for me to test them out on. Who does he think I am? Who does he think he is? And then there was his time as a marksman. Sure, he could shoot, but it didn't mean much. Just a dot, cover, and weapons. Not even any ammo or anything. There's no way he put any effort into this charade. Even that Mirror's Edge suspect I arrested months ago put more thought into it than this guy. (At least Faith could shoot guys from afar with her guns.) I pressed him on all of it. "Do you expect me to believe that you're both a shooter and a man of the world when you don't even bother seeing it all through?"
That's when he sent me back to square one with this line: "But copper, I ain't a fancy sandbox; I'm a detective." "Damn! He's got me there", I thought to myself, tip of the pencil in the corner of my mouth. I reviewed the case file, and he really did know how to play the detective game. Said that he'd walk onto a scene and light it up like a Fragile Dreams soundtrack, and it matched, too. Man, that joke doesn't work in the new editor. The crime scenes were littered with clues (and cigarettes and bottles) for this poor bastard to find; of course he'd get them all. But what cinched it all together was that he could see the bigger picture with all this. He'd look at a bloody knife casting a pixelated shadow on a hit-and-run accident, and damn it, he'd find a way to make it work. I wanted to call him out on all this, but everything made sense. All the pieces fit perfectly together in this complex chess game he wove right in front of me. But at the same time, I couldn't help but feel that he was hiding something from me. Wealthy parents, maybe? How else could he possibly get a criminal every time? (Not always the right one, but close enough.) Some of his notebooks didn't have a damn thing written in them, but he still delivered justice! Even after getting his fingerprints all over the crime scene, thus irrevocably destroying his case! What was going on here? (Certainly better at it than that Tantei guy from a while back, though.)
I decided to confront him on this issue with the misanthropic skills he taught me, oddly enough. I remember when he first taught me those skills: he told me that suspects could lie when the suspect I was talking to was honest, and told me to be extremely careful when I was speaking with a compulsive liar. Anyway, I intently watched his well-animated face as he went on and on about how he didn't do it. I wasn't buying any of it. I reviewed the transcript that came with the dialogue and double checked it with my other notes. I trusted my intuition (even though I've never found it to be too helpful) and determined that he was telling the truth...for now. Before I asked my next question, I brought in my partner at the time, Fustadio. He was a tall, burly clown. Literally, he was a circus clown. I'm not sure how we got together, but damn it if he wasn't useful. He'd whip out his penis from time to time, and my suspect's eyes would constantly dart over to the dangling clown penis. That's how I knew I nailed the guy. I turned on my bad cop and threatened the piece of scum into next Sunday. It worked; he divulged more than I could possibly imagine. Of course, that was only in the beginning. As time went on, he caught onto my game and began doing racist impressions of Japanese people. "Damn!", I thought (and most likely shouted out loud). "He's hidin' his eyes. This complicates things." I didn't know what to do, so I wanted to call him on his lies. Unfortunately, I didn't have any evidence, and I couldn't accuse him of lying without solid evidence. That would just be sloppy detective work, and I'd have the chief on my ass in a New York minute. Ultimately, I had to let the poor bastard go. Now I'm back at the beginning, looking for the sick fuck who....wait, what was the crime, again? I think I missed that part entirely.
- One of the finest detective flicks of our time.
- He may have had a few loose ends, but damn it if he wasn't a great detective!
- He knew the game and he played it well.
- I still don't know what happened to that dame. I guess she was a plot device of my imagination.
What hell hath man wrought upon itself? Maybecan explain it.
The Cat and the Coup
(And after traveling 64 years back to the present, I find myself running 55 years into the past yet again.) Why am I doing this? Well, one reason is because I want to escape masturbating unicorns. Another was because for whatever reason, I was feeling nostalgic for an era of fear and general shittiness. But The Cat and the Coup, a free Steam
beta game you can blow through before your microwave pizza is finished cooking, showed me an alternate side to the 1950s. A drugged out side that makes the video I posted seem as tame and conservative as...well, the 1950s, really.
But it has a pretty good reason for being so fucking weird: so you'll remember the story of Mohammed Mossadegh, former Prime Minister of Iran. For me, at least, it was an educational game. All these years, I though Iran simply tried on democracy before going back to a monarchy, then deciding that was shit, getting rid of it in favor of a theocracy, and then not being fond of that, either. (I've always thought of Iran as a fickle country.) Then I played this game and found out the truth: Kermit instigated a coup because oil (I'm not even sure if that warrants the Shin-Ra theme, but just in case...). There are also some other events in Mossadegh's life that the game covers, but that's not important. What is important in the game that solely focuses on the life of Iran's sort-of martyred Prime Minister? Why, the presentation, of course! Simply put: it's simultaneously awesome and confusing. There are just so many weird mind-screwy moments in this game, like forcefully forcing 3D onto a 2D perspective, or when it replaces America with a self-righteous, badass lizard. (What the fuck did I just type?) The best part about it, though? It all makes sense, in an artistic way. Everything fits together in some really cool symbolic way, like the lizard thing (I think it means that America's approach to foreign affairs is shooting blood out of its eyes) or Mossadegh drowning in oil (signifying both his rise through history and the fact that his lack of control over it led to his demise). (Sorry if I spoiled events that happened in the real world more than fifty years ago.) It comes across as incredibly thought out, artsy, and full of personality.
Of course, this comes at a cost. A RAMy cost. To be more direct, it eats RAM like a cyber coyote. (I spent four hours working on that joke.) At about every stage of Mossadegh's life, I had to coax my computer out of the nervous breakdown it was suffering from this game before I could continue. It gets especially bad on "significant" animations (if you've played the game, you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about), which force me to touch the keyboard with asbestos gloves to keep from burning to death. The surprising part, though, is that there really isn't a lot that could eat up so much memory. Go look at it and tell me which parts couldn't conceivably done in Flash. Why does it hate my computer so much? Oh, and as for the gameplay...what the hell do you want me to say about it? You solve a few puzzles as you witness the Prime Minister wander from room to room. They're like the rest of the game: clever and pretty trippy. All I can really criticize them for is that a few of them don't really work as well as they should (that Sonic homing attack near the end has no discernible logic behind it), but that's kind of a weak excuse, given that I was able to figure them out in a minute or two. Speaking of a minute or two, guess how long the game is? Need a hint? Look at it again. Need an answer? LOOK AT IT AGAIN! Although I'm mad at you, I'm not mad at the game, since it gets its job done in its very short time. So, yea, this is a pretty cool game. Go out and play it and stuff. I'd be more enthusiastic, but by the time I've posted this blog, there's about a 40% chance that I'm struggling to get through my Code Veronica X blog.
- I don't remember Iranian politics being so symbolic (read: dripping with acid).
- It's the Crysis of 2D games about Iran.
- Was Crysis a short game? Because this one certainly is.