Coloring Outside the Lines

Posted: February 10, 2013 by smaloney2013 in Uncategorized

This week, I explored the five different player types in LA Noire, as well as exhibiting degenerate and exploitive strategies.  This mostly consisted of actions taken in street missions, like shoot-outs and chasing after a robber.  I attempted the same mission repeatedly to ensure my experiment was thorough.

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This game, like most games, is very supportive of the normal player.  In a shoot-out, I only took secure, safe shots and hid behind cars.  With careful timing, I managed to complete the task efficiently.  Completion was by no means quick, but the numerous failures and retrials led to a thorough knowledge of the task at hand.

After some time, I managed to approach the task with a savoir-faire that increased my completion rate as the dedicated player.  I recognized when the bad guys were reloading their weapons.  I knew the terrain, the safe spots and the implied route of action.  More importantly, I learned how many bullets were in my gun, which is information that the game does not represent visually.  As suggested in Salen & Zimmerman, I grew tired of this method and thought of it as “too serious.”  Luckily, the game does not take itself too seriously, either.

It was time to be my usual self, the unsportsmanlike player who loves winning.  During one of my trials, I tested my character’s athletic abilities.  Instead of hiding in safety, I decided to run circles in front of my opponents, making their shots incredibly difficult.  And, whenever they ran out of bullets, I stopped and fired back.  I doubt they teach my evasive strategy at LA Police Academy, and my character looked ridiculous running around like that.  Even in close-up altercations, my player maintained health by running in circles.

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Finally, I began to exploit the game’s weaknesses.  Whenever the player runs low on health, the visual colors turn to Black & White, the only visual indication suggesting death.  There is no health bar, and after a some time, the player regains health and color to the visual presentation.  Whenever confronted with an opponent, I happily absorbed his shotgun shot to my face, my presentation turn b&w, and I shot back at point blank.  After, I waited for my health to regenerate and then found the next opponent.  The other characters in the game react to this reckless behavior by voicing their concerns and calling my character names.  However, the story or overall structure does not change.

For a game that supposedly dedicates a portion of its merits to reputation, the act of creating a unique character within the structure of the game, how one handles oneself in trials of skill is not recognized.  Even when my degenerate techniques ended in failure, the results were not entertaining.  My player would not fall off the building when spear-heading the enemies.  Nor would the citizens walking on the sidewalk die when I struck them with my car at high speeds.  The game does not tolerate indecent behavior at all.  Even the character’s basic movements can’t really exercise any great feats besides climbing clearly designated fences and facades on buildings.

Perhaps the game does take itself too seriously.  My character carries a gun, but can only use it in specific settings.  The walls of the magic-circle are lined with barbed-wire.  The only true free-will that can be expressed in this sandbox game is a tourist trip around Los Angeles, admiring all of the monuments.  I am disappointed with the lack of personality that a player can attribute to this game.

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