Monday, August 27, 2012

Mike's Mondays with Mike McGee: Columbo Noire

      You know how some of the stuff your parents are into rubs off onto your interest list like a good simile rubs off my brain area onto my computer’s letter boxes and forms sentence? Well for me, that was an ol’ buddy cop TV show called Columbo, which I still enjoy watching to this day. He was a very quirky type of detective for the LAPD and he’d always solve the crime. In true buddy cop avant-garde fashion, he rarely worked with a buddy, ('cept for that one time that William Shatner guest starred). Just imagine Peter Faulk as a detective and that’s literally the show. I always wanted to be Columbo, ‘cause he was such a cool cat. Luckily my pals at Rockstar heard my dumb hopes and dreams and immediately began making L.A. Noire, of which I have played 24 hours and will be the only game I cover in this week’s MMwMM. For the none of you who care about my content quantity, take it up with Mr. John “MONDAY AIN”T NO WEEKEND, GET OFF MY DAY!” Mikula. So let’s get into it or, in my time-appropriate lingo, “Let’s jimmy this swanky gam!”
I want to BE this!
      As I said, L.A. Noire is the spiritual sequel to Columbo. You play as Cole Phelps “war hero” and a surprisingly poor swimmer (omg, too clever!). You’s a cop, but eventually you become a detective ‘cause you’re not a dipshit and actually use your brain to solve cases. The unique thing about this game is the way that they realistically render facial features and expressions and such. They look prooty good, I must say. And it’s a good thing too, because it’d be pretty hard to tell if Mr. Hopgood is telling me the truth or not if they weren’t. (Psst, he’s not…use the chloral hydrate as evidence). Sometimes the story is told in a way that you [basically] know who is the criminal, but you have to find the evidence to convict. Columbo episodes were set up the same way. You saw who, how, and why the bad guy 'did it' and then the mystery came from how Columbo was gonna piece it together. So I like when that happens but I believe I already mentioned that I like that Columbo progrum. Yep, yes I did, “Well for me, that was an ol’ buddy cop TV show called Columbo, which I still enjoy watching to this day” (McGee 1). I’m having a time with it, a good one I’d even venture to say. I’m designating the next paragraph as the bitching paragraph; so don’t let it confuse you into thinking that I don’t like this game. Also, don’t get your hopes up. It’s not bitchin’ like it’s a real sweet-ass paragraph. I’m gonna complain and whine about stupid stuff…like a bitch.
It was literally as simple as that.

      Ok, so “bitching” may have been too strong of a description. Think of this as a terrible stand-up comedy routine. Ready? Go. ‘Ok, Mike here’s your big chance. Don’t blow it. Remember: Start weak so you have nowhere to go but up.’ So, the AI drivers in LA Noire are some of the most braindead piece of data I’ve ever had the misfortune to interact with. When you have your siren on, the drivers are usually pretty good about getting out of your way. Sometimes, though, you’ll run into (mmmliterally) the guy who just makes the last-second decision to pull out into traffic right as your passing by. You get docked, of course, which can affect your case rating at the end. I once had $13k in vehicle damages and dems 1948ish dollars. Granted, that was a special circumstance…but it still happened. So there are these side missions or “street crimes” which are basically just one-off crimes that can end it a shoot-out, car/foot chase, or…that’s really all I’ve encountered. They usually like to appear on the opposite side of the map so I usually don’t spend the extra 5-10-15 mins driving to ‘em. So what’s messed up is that, even though you’re a police officer, you’re basically killing any criminal that you come across. There’s really no way to keep these guys alive once they pull a gun on you. And they ALWAYS pull a gun...or commit suicide. Shooting ‘em in the leg is the same as shooting them in the head. The worst part is that there’s always a cutscene of the coroner loading a body into his vehicle and Phelps is always there with a look of self-disgust on his face, which is enhanced by the super facial rendering in the game. It hard when a game seemingly punishes you like that, but that’s the “win” screen of these street crimes. Simply baffling. And now for something completely phoned-in.
"Nice job handling this jaywalker, Phelps" - Guy who checks for semen
      Some of the interview questions are asked in a way that it’s hard to tell what evidence that you’re supposed to use to back up your accusation or even what the heck I'm asking about in the first place (i.e. the "title" of the question in the notebook ain't what you're really gettin' at, capisce?) Quick example: I was supposed to connect this guy to a robbery that he committed with a bunch of other people. He said that he had no idea what I was talking about so I was gonna “make” him on it (that’s how they talked, shut it!). But apparently evidence that connected him and his buddies to the robbery wasn’t good enough evidence. I shouldn’t know that the guy’s name being written in some sniper’s book was the better answer. Don't worry, though, I'm pretty pro at it. Some of ‘em take a little thought, and if you get stumped, using intuition points will make it easier to choose between Truth (Obvious), Doubt (They’re lying but you got no prove), and Lie (Bedda ha’ dat evidance!). It also narrows the choices of evidence to choose from if you use your intuition point with ‘Lie.’ When you look at it in hindsight, it makes a heck of a lot more sense.
"You guys sell Corn Flakes?" "Uh...n-no we don't sell that here."
      I think I had another joke to stretch this out but, unfortunately, it’s hard to remember all my jokes. I made myself laugh so hard that I got amnesia…it’s a curse, sometimes. Actually it’s always a curse; I can’t really think of a time when amnesia would not be considered a bad thing. What I never forget, though, is that these weekly posts help me to grow as an individual; learn new tricks, if you will. What could I have possibly learned from this masterfully written article that, at its worse, rocked your brain’s critical thinking skills like a frickin’ hurricane? Well, the most important thing to take away is that I need to spread my game-playing time over several games so that it’s not as obvious when I run out of things to talk about after the second paragraph. I’m still optimistic though, ‘cause I don’t write WSwJM…cuz it sa-suks &nd eye h8ate8 it!!11!eleven!! Remember: Koala bears spend as much as 20 hours a day sleeping. Oh, and Stay Shlocky!

L.A. Noire Final Score: A solid Cole Phelps out of Peter Faulk