LA Noire. Produced by Rockstar Games, created by Team Bondi amide a light bit of controversy over the release and production.
I really wish I could have included an audio file of Graham and I talking about it, rather than trying to rationally put points together about it, because that was a good conversation.
Admittedly, most of it was “JESUS FUCK, LA NOIRE” “SO GOOD” “MY DICK IS ROC… wait, where am I? I’m so lost.”
LA Noire is, at it’s simplest, a film noir. Yeah, you heard me. This game is so smooth with dialogue, characters, scenery, story, that the whole thing feels like one powerful, albeit long, noir film.
Team Bondi did their homework about this.
First off, the entire map of LA that you drive all around in and adventure through was generated from the ACTUAL road maps from 1942 Los Angeles/Hollywood. And, as all of us Southern Californians know, most of those streets are still the same. It creates an odd feeling in my stomach when I drive through LA now, having memories of a ‘better’ time, careening down the streets in the Wee Woo mobile.
And it’s not just the scenery that’s spot on. The cases that you undertake as you make your way from beat cop to grand detective are largely pulled from classic noir films produced during the 1940s. But don’t think you have an easy out, movie buffs. A number of cases are like this, but only in crime set up, and the big over-arching case that becomes the one that will make you or break you, spanning the entire second half of the game, is straight from Team Bondi.
The costumes are spot on, the random comments are chronologically relevant. Double for the music. It all really situates you in the time period, and that’s why this is such a great game. The setting is so well put together, and it doesn’t have a pinch of magic holding it together.
Notice how I haven’t discussed the game play yet? That was intentional. In truth, there isn’t much game play to be had. The whole thing is story driven, in that the majority of the game is spent questioning witnesses, presenting evidence to counter their lies, you know the drill Phoenix Wright fans.
And that’s about it. There are driving sections but, outside of chase sequences, you can always have your partner drive. And of course there are shoot-outs with bad guys (a term I think childish, but one they painted on a number of achievements)… But if you ‘Fail’ any action sequence more than three times, the game will ask if you’d like to skip to the end of it, with no impact on your story enjoyment OR performance score. Be it car chase, shoot out, or tailing, you can skip it all.
EVEN INTERVIEWS. Regardless of if you are correct or not in deciding if they’re lying, Cole Phelps will always be able to complete a case.
And this is scratching at a much larger discussion about “What are video games for”, “What are they supposed to ‘be’”, and “Why does difficulty matter?”.
I’ll avoid that for now for fear of slapping another ton of text on this already long read. In short, the game is easy. Like I said, it’s more of a movie than a game. So, why ‘play’ it rather than read a summary on Wikipedia? Because through the world that Team Bondi makes, and the plots that they weave it all becomes so real. You develop an interest in figuring out who’s lying and who isn’t. At the most basic, the more correct you are in questioning, the fewer scenes you’ll have to progress through to finally obtain the perp. That’s not all, though, because the plots are often convoluted and unless you actually figure the questions correctly, you’ll be lost in the dark.
And that’s just it. The game lets you fail, and punishes you by not telling you what’s going on, giving you the bares crumbs to go by. And that’s motivation for people who care about a good story. They want to know more, and if they’re not telling you… you make them. Yes, you can finish the game without getting a single question right or doing any of the actual work, but you won’t have a damn clue of what’s going on. Despite the easiness, if you’re not actively playing the game, you’ll be robbed of the whole story, which is a GOOD thing and a GOOD story.
It plays like one massive, beautiful game, of Phoenix Wright meets Choose Your Own adventure.