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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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My First Date with LA Noire

GETTING READY:

A triumphant return to the world of dating for one Alexander Page! Boy, it’s been a while! With the aid of The TV Thing I’ve rediscovered television, so my time has been eaten up lately watching a chap called Jeremy shout at poor people. I haven’t had time to date a single thing! I jest of course, I still have little use for the Pictocube™ other than as a vehicle for video games and horror flicks.

Alex's Favourite Show

Fitting then, that my next date should combine the two, sort of…

I’m taking out LA Noire, the Maltese Falcon of the makers of Grand Theft Auto. It’s earned lots of attention by apparently having amazing faces. Like literally, faces that will amaze you with their incomparable facey-ness. I hope it’s also a fun game, because I’ve seen people with faces at work, and after a while I’d have to report that it becomes less than entertaining. Unless I stare at their faces for a really, really, really long time, then it becomes more entertaining again but I have to start looking for a new job.

Looking at the hype around it, apart from the faces, it seems like it’s going to be mysterious and enthralling. I love a good whodunnit, and there seems to be a huge and colourful cast of characters getting dun. Rockstar know how to tell a cool story and know how to make a good game. I’ve got high hopes. So, getting ready I opt for the Don Draper look, with a little added LA glitz! I’ve got the pinstripe down and set. Pinstripe suit, shirt, hat, gloves, cane AND thong (That‘s where the tan line comes from- Chris). Whisky in one hand, cigarillo in the other I’m steering my cool old Chrysler with only my smug sense of misogynistic satisfaction and I’m off for a date. Don’t wait up, honey!

THE DATE:

Well, I’m just pulling up to the bar in my cool as heck looking convertible Chrysler and…that’s weird, the police have cordoned off the area. Weird. There seems to be some sort of bad stuff going on down that alley. I head inside, no sign of my date. I hope she hasn’t stood me up, I’ll feel like such a loser. Oh, wait, is that her…yes, it is! She seems to be just having a nap in the alley, that chap in the suit must be worried that she’s cold, he’s covering her up in a nice white sheet…oh.

Why so cold, my darling?

The Red Lipstick Murder

Like a lot of men my age, I’m still mostly boy, so in situations of grim need or mild confusion I tend to ask my dad. From how long to cook a joint of pork for to when a lady I’m taking dancing is brutally slaughtered; this is no different. Dads are omniscient, everyone knows that.

I’m lucky in this instance though, because there’s a murder to investigate and my old man is a forensic scientist running his own consultancy. Really. (He’s not making this up- Chris) So I’ve got him onside to get this mystery sorted out and help me finish off the breadsticks and listen to the cool Jazz soundtrack.

According to a hugely stereotypical Irish copper and presumably my boss, my date seems to have been found dead with the trademark evidence of the Werewolf, perhaps better known as the Black Dahlia, an all around unpleasant chap who seems to be in the habit of killing women in Los Angeles. Crikey. I’d best bring this villain to justice before he does harm to anyone else! I like how it’s all dark and moody, it’s extremely atmospheric and to an old hand at the GTA games I can pick up the controls in my sleep.

As the senior investigator, Dad has the joypad.

Galloway, our partner says ‘I’d prefer it if you drive’. He hasn’t seen my old man drive in Xbox games before. I’ve seen him crunch his way giggling into walls across every gaming system from the 80’s onwards with no sign of improvement along the way. Still, it means I get to observe the admittedly lovely scenery, and I’m not missing too much because the driving mechanics are just the same as every other sandbox-y driving game you’ve ever played. After an apparent misunderstanding and explaining to Pa that the object of the game is actually NOT to destroy every lovely recreated hot dog stand in 1940s LA, and one mishap where our car accidentally got wrapped around a bench and we had to walk through someone’s garden we’re there! We’ve made it to the crime scene.

This is how we at MultiMediaMouth roll. Our staff motto is "Cars and Man Thongs"

We proceed to the scene of crime together. This is the old man’s time to shine though:

“The initial squirty blood in the cut scene was a bit unrealistic. You don’t get squirty blood on the first blow. First causes flow, second gets the splashes.” Well duh, Rockstar.

First part of the scene, we find some shoeprints. “Perfect.” volunteers Pa, approvingly.

“Look, a drag pattern!” Seemingly engrossed. I ask him what this means.

“The drag marks of the floor going from the side of the wheel marks, footwear marks and drag marks which aren’t bad. I’ve seen worse”

I wonder for a moment what that means? I mean, how many pretend crime scenes does he go to? Like so often in life, the best course of action seems best to just shrug and continue.

“What you don’t have though is any splash patterns to correspond with the squirty blood in the cutscene. From this we’d conclude that the cutscene was someone else, or else this isn’t the scene of the murder.” Crikey! We’ve uncovered something here and no mistake! The cutscene was a different woman being killed? Or the killer cleaned up some of the blood afterwards to fool us? The plot, as they say, thickens.

Large Handed Alex Game Avatar sees what you did there

I have to ask: so dad, is there a more scientific term than squirty blood? You presumably wouldn’t use that in court?

“We’d say impact spatter caused by the initial assault.” Impact Spatter is my new band name.

Not splatter?

“Spatter.” Duh, Rockstar.

We’ve rooted through the Lady’s handbag. Detective Phelps spends a good minute or so rotating a hairbrush in front of his face while my dad marvels at his rotating arm and enjoying the detail.

On to the corpse, this is where I expect to see good return on the investment of bringing my old man’s Consulting Forensic skills on board. (Fun fact: on his business cards he actually has “Consulting” instead of “Consultant” because of Sherlock Holmes. Is it any wonder I turned out this way?)

“The coroner so far is quite OK, pretty sound advice. I’m suitably impressed.”

Stop calling me Watson, Dad.

“The blood round the head looks a bit misty, not pooled, but that could be because it’s been wet. This is a long time ago, so I wouldn’t expect DNA precautions, but even in those days they’d be aware of fingerprints, so why do we keep handling stuff? We’ve not entirely mucked up the crime scene but it’s not best practice.”

He’s grumbling, but he’s clearly having fun.

“It’s less of an issue as they’ve taken the cast, but it’s also not best practice to walk all over the bloody evidence.”

We next discover what looks like some kind of puzzle or parlour game. Odd that. This is one of the incredibly easy ‘puzzle clues’. Rotate the globe to make a world and in fact you have a snazzy table lighter. Again, smudged with our fingerprints. Why steal a table lighter indeed? So it’s off to the bar in question to find out why!

My old man is giggling at this point, before we leave the scene of crime.

“I’m going to walk through the blood, just because I can.” I fear this deliberate wrecking of a crime scene is like any of us wanting to finally tell their boss to shove it. It’s nice to see him get it out.

“Can we steal the coroners car?” Yes. We can. Much to our Partner’s chagrin.

The lack of stealing opportunities taunt Alex's Dad daily

“In my job the Coppers wouldn’t let me steal the ambulance for transporting the body.” Still giggling.

I look down to type some notes, and I hear a crunch and more giggling. And the sound of our partner shouting. My dad has crushed the front end of the car against someone’s house. Just like GTA, we just take the next one that comes along. (Official police business ma’am, we need your car.) cool. A convertible.

Crunch.

Crunch, again. “That was a big enough gap, nearly.”

Dad, did you know you can let your partner drive from location to location? It skips you straight there and saves the sandbox-y element if you want to just progress the story. Although we may miss some of the “Street crime” side missions, or even a clue to this case. It would however reduce the number of pedestrians you’re running over.

“Why would I wanna do that?”

Well, quite. More giggling. More crunching.

Arriving at the bar, eventually we can begin interrogating the barman, and we get sent to the back to speak to the Boss Man. We then use LA Noire’s conversation options for the first time.

‘I got his plate’ the boss tells us. Why would anyone do that? Do any of our readers jot down number plates as people leave their street, just in case?

I’m going to from now on.

He keeps looking around, I think he may have Tourette’s. It’s the ultimate clever facial software in action. They’ve ingeniously recreated someone who rolls their eyes and twitches with an astonishing regularity. We can doubt him though. I Doubt you, sir.

The 'Gurn mode' appears to be an underrated feature

We use an Intuition point, like asking the audience in a game show and go with the majority of other gamers and doubt him again.

He lets slip about not being able to get hold of the husband. Ooh, evidence! We best go speak to the husband at the murdered lady’s house. More crunching to follow. Our long put-upon partner Rusty must have run very quickly along behind us, as my dad screeched off across the grass before he could get in the car.

“Could do with painting the window frames.” Pipes up my dad as we reach the scene. He’s right, amazing level of detail really.

“What do you mean you don’t think it’s anything?!” Phelps seems to be a bit psychic. He looks at objects and if they’re not relevant to the case (Even if they look like they could be) he immediately dismisses them and is never wrong.

“It begs the question that if you think this is crime scene, why are you just wandering around disturbing everything you daft git? The glass on he broken window has fallen in the right place though.”

Time to call in tech services announces Phelps. “It’s taken them a while to reach that decision.” announces my dad.

So, as we go to canvass the neighbours, I ask my old man if it’s like real life then?

“Probably like it was in its day.”

Is it fun though?

“Yeah!”

We question the conveniently returning neighbour who gives us information usefully and succinctly then goes away immediately.

“Let’s steal the neighbours car. It won’t let me take it! I suppose stealing from witnesses is a bit harsh.”

The crunching and giggling continue. For some time. He’s an odd one, my old man, no doubt about it. Not normal like me.

“I’ve never been involved in interviewing a suspect, but I’d like to say stuff like that. I have done that thing with the pencil on the pad in real life though, for a demonstration.”

Ooh, we’ve found a baseball bat at the husband’s place! ‘Nope.’ Phelps tells us immediately after seeing it. So the man is a suspect, and we’ve found a bat in his house, should we not at leas- ‘Nope.’ says Phelps. It makes you wonder since he’s obviously got some sort of sixth sense why he bothers investigating these things at all and doesn’t just head straight to the guilty party.

Interviewing people, I have to ask: Is there a rule about not using the word ‘sexually‘, and referring to it as being ‘criminally’ assaulted instead? Isn’t any assault criminal? The PC brigade do know that the word sex isn’t in itself arousing, right? I mean, seems odd.

Turns out they’re not hotdog vendors my dad keeps ruining, they’re soda stalls. We discover this after investigating the wreckage. This detective stuff is starting to rub off on us!

Unbeknownst to the Clan Page, this is not supposed to happen 5 times an hour

More steretypes ahoy! Our boss is “Deeply disturbed by our line of police work”. Finding the truth? You naughty, naughty stereotype! There’s more to life than results you scoundrel!

“Hmmm, this other chap could be our killer. What’s in his house?” Lucky they did get his number plate, eh?

A bloody socket wrench? In a box full of bloody clothes and blood. Crikey!

“Where’s the blood box come from then? There is way too much blood! The wrench couldn’t have brought that much blood with it, it must have been something else.” Could it be the clothes? “No, too much blood”. Well, Dad, what would cause that much blood to be left in the box?
Quick as a flash he answers “A human head, or a severed limb.”

Oopsy, luckily our suspect has just arrived, what a coinky-dinky! Car chase, chaos, more running people over, the suspect skids down the street on its roof, presumably haunted to his last breath by my Dad’s cheery giggling and flaming car.

Case closed!

Now for our end of mission assessment and rating:

18/19 clues found! Yes!
9/10 questions correct! Huzzah!

What?! Only a 1 out of 5 rating??

Oh, vehicular damage: 14,750 dollars. City damage two and a half k .1,945 dollars. If we’d done that today it would equate to just over $209k or £136k. Enough to write off 4 or 5 brand new Porsches. Or 136 Fiat Puntos off auto trader. That’s quite expensive for only one conviction.

SECOND DATE:

It’s linear, but definitely not without a lot of charm. I can see myself going on a couple of dates, one to really get to know the ins and outs of each case but there isn’t much scope for a long term relationship.

Wow! Second date was a disaster! I discovered that due to LA Noire’s two save types ‘replay’ and ‘story’, and a fickle choice of autosave slots that the poor thing had had a classic bout of amnesia during the journey via cloud to my dear old Dad’s Xbox. So I had to start the whole game again. It’s enough to make you want to take to the streets with a tyre iron…

Contact Alex at alex@multimediamouth.com or in the comments below.

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