This past weekend was my 7-year anniversary with the wife, so you can probably surmise that there wasn’t a tremendous amount of videogame time to be had. Still, I managed to finish the Homicide desk in L.A. Noire, and the wife and I knocked out the first level of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean in co-op.
Let me get the Lego game out of the way – it’s quite good, as far as Lego games go, and it doesn’t seem to radically change the tried-and-true formula. Certainly it’s very good looking. My main problem with it, after about 20 minutes of gameplay, is the co-op camera. I’ve not really done much co-op in other Lego games, so I’m not sure how the camera compares, but the co-op camera in Pirates is fucking ridiculous. I appreciate what it’s trying to do, but it’s incredibly distracting and ultra-sensitive when it doesn’t need to be, and if anything it causes more harm than good.
My wife isn’t a gamer, as she’ll readily admit. But she knows I am, obviously, and I try my darnedest to either (a) keep my gaming time from intruding on her TV time, or (b) keep her engaged with what I’m doing. We’ve played Rock Band together, which is fun, and we recently completed the Portal 2 co-op campaign together, which was wonderful. (She wrote about her experience here.) I’d very much like to keep playing Lego Pirates with her, but that camera will need to be dealt with.
As to L.A. Noire… well, as I said before, I finished the Homicide desk very late on Saturday, and the wife helped me a bit with the interrogations. It’s hard to talk about what I want to talk about without getting into spoiler territory, but I’m going to work under the presumption that if you’re reading this, you probably don’t care. In any event, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
Let me say, firstly, that I’m enjoying L.A. Noire immensely. I’m not totally 100% in love with it, but it should be noted that it’s a fantastic technical achievement, and I must salute Rockstar, Take Two and Team Bondi for taking such a bold, experimental risk.
I’ve read a bunch of complaints from players and reviewers (this Kotaku piece in particular) about how the game isn’t open enough; you don’t really have much to do in this meticulously-designed city when you’re not in the mood to crack a case. I guess I understand that, but I think that’s their own fault for expecting the game to be something it never claimed to be. If anything, I think that the open-world element feels a bit shoe-horned in; it’s not really all that necessary, and considering that you can fast-travel from location to location anyway, it can be downright irrelevant. I generally ignore radio dispatches when I’m working a case, and I haven’t really done any exploring beyond figuring out the map system and simply trying to get from point A to point B. Considering how much collateral damage I incur when I drive, I prefer fast-travelling, frankly.
If I have any real complaints at this stage in the game, it’s that, well, for all of its valiant attempts at immersion and cinematic presentation, it can still feel very game-y in spots, especially in the interrogation sequences. I’ve gotten a little bit better at them since my first write-up, but I’ve still never gotten all of them right in a case. The irony, of course, is that the conclusion of the Homicide desk story arc pretty much renders all the previous interrogations irrelevant anyway. I suppose it’s a neat twist if you didn’t see it coming, but I knew something was off, and as soon as I’d heard mention of a temp bartender in one of the later cases (after already meeting one towards the beginning of the arc – and a “temp bartender” is somewhat eye-catching to begin with), I started getting ideas that would soon be confirmed.
That story arc has some other significant plot holes, too, that don’t really hold up under scrutiny, the main one being that it just seems a bit too contrived that the serial killer could find that many women to murder with husbands that easy to frame.
More to the point, though, it makes me less inclined to replay those missions in an effort to 5-star all the cases since I know I’m going to be putting the wrong people away every time.
Tomorrow comes the arrival of Dirt 3, which I’m tremendously excited about. It’s been too long since I’ve played a good driving game.