11 January 2012

LA Noire review

It was just another treacherous night in the big city when I opened the “LA Noire” case. You doubtless saw the headlines—big name publisher picks up well reviewed game from independent studio. There was another story I was interested in, though. According to the police files, there had been accusations of appalling working conditions, and the whole shebang had been deep sixed a few months later in mysterious circumstances. That left me with a few loose ends to tie up.

I sat back and pondered the cocktail I had been handed. A fifth of hidden object puzzle, a generous dash of choose-your-own-adventure, a touch of cover-based shootout, and I could definitely detect a hint of sandbox. It added up to something, but what? There was only one way to find out. I slipped the disc into my PS3.

The graphics hit me first, a one-two combo punch of lush environments mixed with uncanny valley facial animation. The story moved like molasses on a winter’s morning. Yet it wasn’t long before I was hooked, as hooked as the morphine addicts who were turning up dead on the streets of the city of angels. I wandered the lovingly rendered streets from crime scene to crime scene, chasing down perps who were seedier than a parakeet’s breakfast.

It takes a strong stomach to be a detective. When there’s a serial killer beating and slashing his female victims, someone has to kneel over the desecrated corpse and turn it over for clues. I won’t even go into my time working the arson desk; suffice it to say I’ll never look at a rack of ribs the same way again.

Maybe that was the hook, the unflinching attempt at realism. Maybe we all want to be heroes, or maybe I was won over by the delight of there being something different in the world of console adventures. Whatever it was, I’m glad I was there. The story may be more of an interactive movie than is good for it, but entertainment is entertainment as long as your expectations aren’t out of whack.

Would I recommend that you follow in my footsteps? Well, if you’ve got patience and determination, and pay attention to detail, you could do worse. Sure, the path’s as linear as the proverbial straight and narrow, and if you wander off track the illusion of freedom in a living city falls apart faster than a shanty town being hit by a tornado. But hey, those are the breaks. Me, I think it’s worth it for the chance to take part in a car chase in a Tucker Torpedo and a shoot out around the Spruce Goose.

© mathew 2017