Alright so I’m into the more recent months of my gaming, I’m finally catching up yeah! Not exactly before all the game of the year stuff starts (which is why I wanted to get my stuff out of the way of all that because it will cause my tiny blogs to disappear even more. However I’m into October and my venture into Rockstar. But before all that I’ll recap why I’m blathering on about these games. Financial reasons constrain my game playing ability so that I am unable to typically create a proper top ten game of the year list from the current year. So because I was missing out on that fun I decided to write about the games I did play this year which were an amalgamation of last years game with older and a couple of current year games. This is not a top ten but simply me talking about the games I played in the order I played them. So let’s gets to the game I played itself….L.A. Noire!
I was pretty hesitant to pick up this game for several good reasons. One being that I am not really a fan of film noire and I had never played a Rockstar game that I liked before. I will say that I had only played GTA3 and GTA: VC and I guess that is not a good enough reason to stay away. (I will also say that I KNOW L.A. Noire is not Rockstar developed and that Team Bondi did the development for the inevitable comment that I’m an idiot, however I personally consider it to be in the Rockstar lineup and it was even in their collection so whatever)But when I was playing those PS2 era GTA’s I never got the point of the games. I found the gameplay clunky, the missions boring, the story lackluster and while creating mayhem was fun it was limited and not a reason to keep playing. So since playing those games I have stayed away from Rockstar figuring they were just not up my alley. Red Dead got huge accolades but I’m also not a big western fan and the game mechanics looked really similar to GTA so I wasn’t ready to get that. Then L.A. Noire came along and I loved the idea of gathering evidence, catching lies and putting people behind bars. It also had the bonus for me of having dudes from Mad Men in it which was really cool and I thought the facial stuff was really interesting (if not a little creepy). But I still had my stigma about Rockstar even though I wanted to give them another try to see why people went nuts over them. L.A. Noire seemed like a good jumping off point as it wasn’t fully Rockstar and had a different gameplay angle then their regular stuff…so I bought it.
I really liked L.A. Noire!! I’ll say that before my criticisms etc. I found the story to be good, the gameplay interesting (if a little repetitive) and the atmosphere to be great even though I’m not a Noir fan. The character of Cole Phelps was to me a little bit of a lifeless dude. He was more of an automaton to me for the first part of the game rather than a quality fleshed out character. When you get more of his backstory later he improves as a character but by then he’s sort of a dick so I never really enjoyed my time being him. I’ll also say the thing that I’ve heard is a common criticism of the game in that the second half isn’t as good. That is absolutely true. The homicide division stuff is the best in the entire game and once you land in vice it takes a nosedive slightly redeeming itself in Arson but not enough to make you wonder what happened. I really liked the different partners you are paired with throughout the game. They seemed like real dudes (instead of your do gooder character) and I loved Rusty because he was so old school and shameless. The uncovering of elaborate plots and meeting ridiculous characters was really fun and it kept me guessing and wanting to see it through until the end. As I said before the homicide division stuff was great even though it is obviously not a string of unrelated murders and clearly one dude. The reveal at the end was decent and the setting of the showdown was great, creepy and atmospheric. The end where you’re all like but! WHAT! Ah crap. Is also genius because it is so much of a downer that it fit with the entire noir setting. Nothing is properly dealt with and it fits. I’m sure some people were like what about justice? And I’m all this is film noir shit there is no justice! After that high you are dumped into vice and the drug running and betrayal and affair is very much summed up in one noise UGH. That is how I felt about Cole and his extramarital bullshit where his career is destroyed (which he was amazing at) over one stupid thing. Once you get to arson things get better but after the head smacking moments in vice you just want to see it through (I also loved the Fringe dude being an evil villain, and the southern gentleman doctor was pretty great). The endgame stuff with the chase through the sewers was decent as well and I enjoyed the connection from Cole’s past and the end. You created a monster!!! Ha ha. But overall the story was good, at moments great but ultimately frustrating which takes away from the experience on the whole.
On the gameplay side of things the collecting of evidence was entertaining and made yu feel like a real detective not just the hero who rushes in but the guy who does his research to make sure he isn’t putting the wrong guy behind bars (which happens anyway). Some of the gamier things include the music that plays until you have collected all evidence and having to turn items to see the writing on them but the music can be turned off if you wish and the handling of the object has its own appeal even if not entirely necessary. The collecting of evidence was one of the gameplay things that I never really got sick of (unlike some of the other stuff) and I would try and piece things together and be completely wrong once the interviews started which brings me to them. The interviews are perhaps the most interesting and the most flawed thing in the game. Utilizing the facial software was great, however even though it is necessary to give the actors exaggerated expressions it eventually is super obvious when someone if telling the truth or not. The only real issue once you know how to play is whether you have the correct evidence to reveal a lie. Connecting the evidence to a lie was in my experience either super obvious or cryptic as hell and the character goes on for five minutes before telling how the question is connected to that piece of evidence. Perhaps I’m just I bad detective but I fet sometimes that those moments were not very clear. Either it was 1+1=2 or super confusing.
I have heard complaints also about the whole run around the city following the serial killer riddles. Some people said they were too vague, however I thought they were fairly obvious if you thought about them and I got them all on the first try. This was another reason why homicide was the best for me, I loved this run around the city chasing the psychos riddles. I felt smart when I figured out the next location and one step closer to catching the maniac. The city itself even though labelled as an open world doesn’t have a lot going on and doesn’t encourage you to explore much as there isn’t a lot to do. It is just a huge map with a couple of side missions in it and collectibles (gold film reels) that would be insane to find them all without a guide (fuck that). They give you this big realistic city to drive around in but with the exception of getting in new cars I ignored most of it and just went to the next side mission or story beat. The shooting itself in L.A. Noire I’ll say was alright. It was nothing special but it was an improvement over my feelings toward the earlier GTA games I played before. However, I am worried about playing a game like Red Dead which will rely more on the shooting and have none of the adventure game stuff like L.A. Noire has. I don’t know if I could stay interested in a game which would be so reliant on that aspect of gameplay when I find games like Uncharted do their shooting better. I dunno I guess it will be decided if I ever pick up Red Dead. Most of the side missions were gun related and that was fine because they were short and no big deal. So overall I was sort of meh on the shooting aspect of the game.
Alright I’ll move on to the trophy section of my blog. In L.A. Noire the trophies are not thoroughly difficult as after you beat the game you can replay any mission you want. So overall the “get 5 stars on every case” and “do specific thing in specific case” trophies were a breeze and interesting to see how a “perfect” case went (as it was I got 4 stars on most cases vice was my worst string of cases and for some reason while playing as Jack I got a lot of 5 stars). The fucking annoying parts of the trophy list were the collectibles. The gold film reels were whatever but ridiculous if you wanted to find them without guide help because the city is HUGE and they are needles in a haystack. I recommend a guide immensely! As for the other collectible the cars were annoying because with the exception of special car garages you find the cars are random. They have a higher percentage likelihood of being in certain neighbourhoods but it is no guarantee. This task may have been more fun if the open world had more going on and more to distract you but as it was it was just a pain in the ass. I got my plat and it wasn’t hard difficulty wise it was just annoying.
Overall if you’ve read this far I’m sure you’ve gotten my sentiments that L.A. Noire is an enjoyable game with numerous flaws. The most obvious being; a useless open world, lackluster gunplay, an inferior second half to the story, a cold fish protagonist and an occasionally vague evidence system. I would still say this game is worth playing though for the interesting NPC’s especially your various partners, an EXCELLENT homicide desk, great adventure style evidence collecting, great film noir atmosphere and the fact that this game is original as well as making you feel proud when you solve a case. If you are interested in any of this stuff try it out. L.A. Noire may be my doorway into Rockstar games because I liked it so much. Thank you for reading, you have been promoted…to the demolition desk…watch out…for giant bombs!! (I wish ha ha) later duders. Oh and next up in my series in the most chraming little game I played all year...Costume Quest!