It wasn’t a particularly long interaction, and I just watched from afar as the mystery played out before my eyes, but it sure as heck left a good impression. This is, as advertised, an amazing-looking game with some really neat tricks up the sleeve of its really nice ’40s-style suit. It is super-streamlined, easy to understand, and truly innovative. It looks and sounds like this was a labor of love, with the pastel colors, the life-like objects you pick, heck even the music you hear when you face danger showing that this game understands its past (the films and books this game takes its noir cues from) and its future (the future of gaming this game seems to want to drag us into).
As promised, my friend James bought the game, and while other friends played a round of Apples to Apples, I watched as he fired up his game system and played through his latest mystery on the homicide desk. Of course the first thing I saw when the game fired up was grizzly, mangled corpse of a naked female. Oh, RockStar Games, you devils, still up to your old tricks! No, you can’t be the bad guy here, the environment around you is seedy enough to make up for any instinct for violence and darkness the sociopath in all of us might take a likening to. (Me, I’ve never seen the appeal of being a bad guy in games, and I imagine that if I ever got my hands on Red Dead, that I would play it as boringly and nobly as possible. Sorry…)
My one complaint would have to be the story. It was pretty short. A pretty woman dead. Her angry Latino husband beats her, but he might not have done it. There’s a creep at the fruit store who hits on her. All these little details are thrown out there, things which seem to indicate that there’s a lot more going on here (my guess: there is a lot more going on in this pretty open and shut case, and if I’d seen the end of the game, it would have been revealed that we had captured the wrong guy), but, in the end, you grab the guy with the bloody knife in his office who has no motive whatsoever. I figured we must have done something wrong, but James’s final report indicated he’d done everything exactly right (“Ha!” he shouted, “First time I got everything right all game!”) Hmm… I was left scratching my head, but only until the visuals and the mood of the piece left me wondering what it was I’d been so angry about the second before. Mystery stories, after all, are infamous for their plot holes and loose ends. In the end, what matters is not what color that car was or was not. What matter what how it feels. Video games don’t usually make me feel good. L.A Noire felt good.