Friday, April 15, 2011

Am I Too Stupid to Play L.A. Noire?

L.A. NoireGame Informer recently posted a hands-on preview of L.A. Noire:
I begin investigating the crime scene, which is one of the  game's main play mechanics. Generally, you proceed just as you would in real life—something catches your eye, you bend down and pick it up. You can rotate items in your hand with the thumbstick, searching for a "sweet spot" that will rumble and reveal a further clue in the item.
"You proceed just as you would in real life?" Oh crap. I stink at real life.

I'm pretty good at investigations in games, though. But now I'm starting to wonder if they're giving me an inflated sense of my own abilities.

Dragon Age II, like pretty much every other game these days, provides helpful marks on your map indicating where you need to go to accomplish a given task. And usually, "gathering evidence" consists of going to that spot and either talking to each person or clicking on each item there.

That doesn't exactly make me Sherlock Holmes.

Fable IIIHell, Fable II takes it about as far as it can go. When you get a quest, it doesn't bother marking your map for you. Instead, a shimmering golden line appears above the ground in front of you. Simply follow that line, and you will find your goal.

I haven't played Fable III yet, but I have to assume that the moment you accept a quest, the game gives you a pat on the back and marks the quest as successfully completed.

Even the vaunted "detective mode" in Arkham Asylum is simply another way to highlight the items you need to click (and which dudes have guns). After a while, I just left it on and pretended I was fighting a bunch of glowing undead skeletons.

Pretty cool, right?
It sounds like L.A. Noire might make you think a bit more about gathering evidence, and connecting that evidence to events in the game. That's probably a good thing. Modern RPGs have made my brain flabby, and it could use a good workout. As long as it's fun at the same time.

RPGs used to really feed that brain muscle. I remember Baldur's Gate not holding your hand that much. For instance, those useless golden pantaloons you found two games ago? You really shouldn't have thrown them away.

Even worse were the Infocom text adventure games like Zork and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I played when I was a wee tot. Those bastards would toss you down a mineshaft if you made a typo.

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