[VGV] Welcome to the 1940s, Sugar.

Let’s add a new section to my blogging, shall we? It shall be called “Video Game Vacation”, as occasionally I like to take a week off to play through one video game. I might do this every few weeks or every few months – it depends on when I get worn out. Sometimes I’ll opt to actually go outside and travel, but to be honest, with the current cold weather and the lack of money to spend, I would rather not. Plus, I don’t find traveling relaxing – it’s tiring and not enjoyable when I do it when I don’t really want to, but it’s fun when I want to.

There is one kind of traveling I do usually find fun AND relaxing though and that is through exploring the world of ~video games~. Some places are fantastical worlds I can’t actually visit in reality, while others are places I could probably sort of visit, but it wouldn’t be the same.

The game I’ve been playing lately for my latest video game vacation has been L.A. Noire. In short, it’s about a cop – who eventually becomes a detective – during the 1940s and you go around, solving four different types of crime (homicide, vice, arson, and I can’t remember the other one). I actually thought it was a different game when I picked it up, but when I started it, I found that I enjoyed it a bit more than I thought I would. I like it enough to keep playing, but I don’t like it enough to actually feel invested in the world and the story. Actually, I don’t even think the game has a storyline. If it does, it hasn’t shown itself yet and I’m probably halfway through the game.

A few days ago, I actually had been spending a lot of time playing side missions in Assassin’s Creed 3. I completed the main storyline of the game about four days after I got it (October 31st), so all I had left was the side missions. I primarily did the Homestead Missions, so I could see if people were right when they said Connor is much more likable in them – and, yes, they were right. Absolutely right. Anyway, because I was starting to hit that point where I had mostly small things to do (collect chests, collect feathers, catch those STUPID ALMANAC PAGES, UGH, THEY ARE SO HARD, and a few other things), I decided it was probably time to go and start a new video game to help my lazyish mood move along. That’s where L.A. Noire came in.

The gameplay took a bit to get used to, since I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed for so long on my PS3, but I quickly caught onto it. Probably the weirdest thing for me to adjust to was running with R2, instead of R1 on the controller. And I’m not going to lie – there’s times in that game I wish I could scale walls and run faster. You can kind of scale walls, but not to the extent of Assassin’s Creed.

Okay, it seems like I’m going to be comparing everything to Assassin’s Creed. If I do, I apologize ahead of time. I already started doing it.

It feels kind of cool to play a cop/detective in the game, especially one who fights against corruption everywhere, but is also shown to be powerless to it. Cole Phelps would be the main character – arguably a polite guy, was a lieutenant during World War II. I find him likable enough to not complain about him being a main character, but with how he’s written, he feels more like he’d be that reoccuring character everybody playing the game loves. But nope, he’s the main character.

Actually, to be honest, none of the characters are really that interesting. Some of them do have more personality than others, but none of them jump out to me as a “THIS PERSON IS MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER”. There are some character relationships in the game I do like (like Earle and Mickey’s relationship – for some reason, police-mobster subtle friendships entertain me, probably because they feel like they have a forbidden element to them), but that’s really as far as it goes.

I think the time period – 1940s – mixed with the abundance of male main characters (there’s no female ones – even in male dominated games, there’s usually one female main character!) makes this game less enjoyable than it could have been for me. I personally don’t care about the 1940s whatsoever – I LOVE history, but I know my own interests lie prior to 1900 (you might be able to stretch it to before 1930, but for the most part…pre-1900, I will happily pay attention and care about it). That, combined with dull personality males (though, I’m guess it was common in the 1940s? Or not…) and an abundance of them, playing the game can get a bit tiring. I feel like there’s a breath of fresh air when I have to go interview a female suspect, because, hey, look! A chick!

Surprisingly enough, the repetitive course of action (which would essentially be get case – get clues – interview suspects – get more clues – interview more suspects) doesn’t damper the enjoyment of the game. I find that it works well for this kind of game. I think that you’re pretty much never asking the same exact questions or finding the same exact clues for each case helps it.

The interviewing process is…interesting. I like that you have to pay attention to what the suspect says and how they say it, as well as their facial expressions. Of course, sometimes, there’s people who look like they’re troubled by a lie, but are really telling the truth or they’re telling an obvious lie, but I can’t seem to find proof to back up my accusation. I was terrible at this in the beginning of the game, but I’ve definitely gotten gradually better. I always feel accomplished when I get a check mark next to all the interview questions.

I’m currently doing the Arson desk in the game. I feel bad for Phelps because of the reason why he was changed over there (also, Earle is a complete jerk and I would like to see his butt handed to him). Married people cheating clearly was a big no-no. I cringe hearing people talk bad about Phelps, because honestly, he’s really not that bad of a guy. I like that he wants justice and that he gets angry that he can’t do anything when the department decides to dismiss a case because the person involved was the cousin of some big government hotshot.

And yes, I really am not invested in these characters. Or at least not as invested as I am with the Assassin’s Creed characters or how I feel about my Pokémon HeartGold party. I guess I lightly care about the characters in this game, just enough where the characters annoy me by what they say or get me slightly angry by something they do (how many times did a chick get hit by a man?). It’s just not enough for me to hold my breath when a character is about to do something danger and fall and then cheering loudly when they make it or in a battle, with 1 hit point left, and knocking out the opponent’s next monster. It’s very like “oh, they’re going to fall? Meh.”.

Also, I’m TERRIBLE at driving in that game. Horrible. I blame it on the controls. It’s hard to maneuver the car, to make it stop, to turn a street corner with ease. Basically, all the driving controls suck. THANK GOODNESS Rockstar put in an action skip option after failing three times because I wouldn’t have made it past the first chase scene. Yes – if you fail an action three times, it gives you the option to skip. I hate the driving part so much, I don’t even try anymore at this point. I just wait for the action skip option to show up. It makes the game go by much smoother for me.

I also always make my partner drive in the game. I kind of consider it the “fast travel” of L.A. Noire. I swear it’d take me like…10 minutes just to drive somewhere myself and quite frankly, I don’t have the patience for that. Especially since I hate the driving in the game. I find it just to be a lot faster to make my partner drive because I really just want to complete the main storyline of the game. I would say I would do “side quest” stuff later, but with how much I like this game, I’ll be selling it to Gamestop.

So, do I think it’s a good game? Yeah. So far, it’s good. But it’s just that though. Good. There’s nothing I really love about it and the things I hate (i.e. driving) all have alternate solutions to them to make the gaming experience much more enjoyable. I’m really hoping that the game’s ending will pull an Assassin’s Creed I on me and be mind blowing, but right now, I’m really doubting that.