Sunday, September 30, 2012

LA Noire

Posting this month has been down, due mostly to the fact that I've liberated my sister's Xbox 360. The first game I played was LA Noire (a loan from Emily), one of the reasons I wanted to borrow the console in the first place. As might be expected, the period detail is immersive, down to 1940s comedies playing on car radios. The game's real selling point is the investigation mechanics, however, and I'm not aware of any game which has put as much effort into collecting evidence and then using it. It's not enough to suspect things, you have to actually prove that people are lying. Spotting lies is also crucial, thanks to the facial capture technology, which means you spot lies in the same way you will in day-to-day life.

My reservations with the game are twofold: it wasn't entirely clear to me how my results in cases actually affected the overall plot, which makes it feel a little bit like it's on rails - playing some of the cases again might give me a better idea of how true this feeling is. The second is that aspects of the metaplot seem underdeveloped: the dénouement in the "hunt for a serial killer" section is underwhelming, but more important are the relationships of the protagonist with women, which aren't really explored until late in the game. This matters in terms of the choices the protagonist makes, which are significant, but lack impact without a background context.

A minor quibble is that the game is in glorious technicolour: an optional mode allowing you to play it in expressionist, shadowy black-and-white would have been a nice touch. And despite my reservations about some aspects of the plot, LA Noire gets its noir ending spot on. I know that extra cases are available as downloadable content, and I suspect I'll be getting them sooner or later.