Patrick Hope: The game dreams are made of
From the first time she walked into my office, I knew that "L.A. Noire" was trouble. A lot of those open-world Rockstar broads had passed through over the years, but she was different. She wasn't just interested in fun and games, if you know what...
From the first time she walked into my office, I knew that “L.A. Noire” was trouble.
A lot of those open-world Rockstar broads had passed through over the years, but she was different. She wasn’t just interested in fun and games, if you know what I mean. Oh, she promised me the moon. She was going to take my breath away and show me things I’d never seen in my 20 years in this business. And she wanted to tell me a story.
Now, you stick around long enough here and you’ll realize that everyone’s got a story. You’ll also realize that there aren’t that many stories worth hearing. She assured me I wanted to hear this one. All I had going for the rest of the evening was a one-on-one with my buddy Jack - Jack Daniel's - so I figured I might as well pull up a chair and hear her out.
So she started talking about this flatfoot named Cole Phelps. He was a Stanford boy and war hero who joined the Los Angeles Police Department to clean up the streets. And it seemed like he had the most interesting cases in the world. From small-time drug dealers to directors with certain, shall we say, proclivities, to even that Black Dahlia killer that was making the papers a few years ago, it seemed like this Phelps was always the center of attention in Los Angeles. He even almost got to meet Howard Hughes once. Almost meet. No one meets Hughes personally.
And then there was Phelps’ interrogation technique. “L.A. Noire” wouldn’t stop talking about that, how Phelps could read small facial expressions and tone of voice and all that to figure out when someone was lying. Oh, the last time I heard someone that proud of their system was this fella I ran into at the track who had a foolproof way to play the ponies. I can’t say I wasn’t impressed. But bells and whistles like that weren’t enough cover up the holes in her story so large I could drive my old Hudson through.
See, this dame’s story jumped all over the place. Phelps’ story was disjointed and felt incomplete. Until the later parts, I wasn’t sure what to think. Plot threads would disappear more quickly than some of my clients. Characters would enter suddenly and leave unceremoniously. At times, the narrative hung together as well as the memories of some of my weekends. I wanted to like this story, but its meanderings were a pair of cement overshoes dragging down the whole thing.
Oh, but “L.A. Noire” decided to tell me that Phelps was a product of his world, that he was just a tragic hero. I wanted to tell her that all the heroes wind up six feet under, but I thought better of it.
No, it hit me like a slug from a .38. Phelps wasn’t a product of his world; he was the world. Everything tied back to Phelps. For this apparent vast world he inhabited, it sounded … empty. There just wasn’t much to do except follow Phelps’s story. I hadn’t seen such a waste of potential since Herbert Hoover.
And so “L.A. Noire” finished her story. She wanted to know what I thought. I saw so much potential, but couldn’t take her case. I told her as much. She wasn’t pleased, but there wasn’t anything else for me to do. As she left, I asked myself if I could have done something differently. Maybe it was just my fault that I’d been too harsh on her. She did do a lot of things right. But I moved on to my next client.
Forget it, Pat. It’s “L.A. Noire.”
Hope is a local attorney and video game enthusiast. He wrote this sitting in a poorly-lit office while taking a drag of a cigarette. Visit his blog, bonusstage.areavoices.com and go to www.thedickinsonpress.com for a weekly video accompanying his columns.