Friday, December 06, 2013

LA Noire: am I a robot?

I knew this was lauded for its facial animation, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so accomplished.  The characters don't suffer from the plastic faces of most games, and the lip-syncing is almost eerie in its accuracy.  Of course, Rockstar claimed this was needed so that players could assess whether the characters in the game were lying or telling the truth, but in reality it's made much more obvious through shifting eyes, stuttering responses, and finding evidence beforehand.

Having said that, I'm doing particularly badly at this, finding it difficult to work out which evidence to present and even if the people are telling lies, much more than when I play Phoenix Wright.  There are quite a few differences between the games, of course, but the idea of solving crimes with an evidence-based approach means that they feel very similar at times - particularly where I'm playing the two at the same time and starting to confuse which bits of evidence I've got in which game.

The other thing I'm bad at is driving in a sensible and law-abiding manner.  I am forever crashing into civilians, almost running them over on the pavements, and bringing down lampposts.  As a result I'm not scoring particularly highly overall, and have had a couple of tellings off from my superiors.  I don't know if the end-of-missions cut scenes do change depending on how well you do, but if not it's a bit of a coincidence that the chief is generally unhappy with me when I've failed to ask the right questions.

Asking the right questions is tricky in itself.  You are given three options - accept a statement as the truth, indicate that you doubt it, or present evidence that it's a lie.  Often if you choose the 'doubt' option, because (say) you don't think that someone can be sure of what they're claiming, your character blunders in and shouts louder than if you were accusing them of the murder itself.  The interviewees get offended and you've failed the questioning session.

So, I'm not doing too well, making me doubt if I have any human empathy at all.  But I am enjoying it a lot, and the world in which it's set is really solid and well designed.  I've been promoted from a rank-and-file policeman to the traffic desk, and then on to the homicide desk.  Most of the murders have been very similar, but with apparently different perpetrators.  I'm hoping that the story doesn't twist to show that I've send a number of innocents to their executions.

1 comment:

Lufferov said...

LA Noire was a nice game, but my god those interrogation scenes were just ridiculous. As you say the "doubt" option is nothing of the sort. Your character goes completely off the rails when all you wanted was clarification on something they had said. Or pushing for evidence. There was one point where I was talking to a child who I wanted to be sympathetic and caring towards... but suddenly he's gone in all guns blazing and I was just dumbstruck.

I haven't played it for a loong time, but I also remember feeling very cheated by some of the decision I needed to make. There was a mission where two suspects had very flimsy evidence and I wasn't convinced either were guilty, but the game still forced me to choose. I then got a terrible rating for picking the wrong person based upon flawed evidence.... in the next mission we found out I was right all along anyway!

I might be remembering some of the details inaccurately but the general feeling was one of disappointment with the game. I'd like a follow up that fixes these issues, maybe with more options to make them expand on details.