I’ve been thinking about my major issue with L.A. Noire some more. Namely, its dialogue system, while interesting, doesn’t really work, not even as well as the one in Mass Effect. This may be because Mass Effect has much more limited goals for its dialogue – it’s mostly a color effect, where can choose responses that, respectively, make you sound like Jean-Luc Picard (a reasonable, compassionate diplomat), Mal Reynolds (a sarcastic antihero), or Boba Fett (an amoral and ruthless mercenary). Detective Phelps, on the other hand, is an ass no matter which button you push. Even his “Truth” bedside manner is grating. It’s consistent, at least, and I don’t berate the actor, just the writing. There’s no real chance to shape the character. As such, the game cannot qualify as roleplaying even though it bears some trademarks of the genre.
L.A. Noire also contains what I sometimes like to call Moments of Unnecessary Punishment. There is a Traffic case, for example, where the case boils down to two suspects – a drifter pedophile and the victim’s husband. Either could be plausibly charged – or both together – but the evidence is clearly more damning for the husband. The game does not allow you to charge both or to continue investigating; you have to pick. If you pick the husband, you get a low case rating because your superior wanted the pedophile charged. If you charge the pedophile, you get the maximum rating even though you overlooked the best suspect. This makes no damn sense. The cases so far in the game hadn’t been judged on politics whatsoever. There is no reasonable way to expect the outcome.
H and I bought a PS3 a little while back. It was finally on sale at a reasonable price. This meant, of course, going back to console gaming in a big way. So far the results are a little mixed – I’m not going to give up my PC as my main gaming platform – but it’s a nice supplement, a thick slice of key lime pie after a steak.
I had three games in mind immediately – L.A. Noire, Red Dead Redemption, and Batman (played it already, but the PS3 has the playable Joker).
L.A. Noire was a small letdown – it’s more like watching a game than playing one, possibly a result of its agonizing long development – but it’s pretty, I’ll give it that, and the story was involving enough to forgive the lack of control somewhat. I’m also glad the numerous Mad Men alumni got some work. It only crashed once. So a cautious thumbs up.
Red Dead Redemption – or as I like to call it, Grand Theft Horsey – is excellent and I am nowhere near finished with it.
Arkham works pretty well as a console title, though I have had to relearn all the controls from the keyboard. Playing the game again to unlock all the challenge rooms isn’t a big deal, because I need to, well, relearn those controls, and Batman doesn’t get old. Joker… what can I say, he electrocutes people with a joy buzzer.
H plays Katamari and Little Big Planet, which fit within her more refined aesthetic. Me, I’m proud to say that if I can’t shoot or hit something in a game, I’m probably not interested. The PS3 lineup isn’t exactly full of detailed economic simulations, alas.