The Great Day is upon us.
Few weeks back I penned a review of LA Noire which has since had a few thousand page reads. Our piece generated interest only because I'd played the game so early. Still, must confess to being enamored of the reaction it received.
It can be interesting/painful to read was the standout: in that my historical interpretation was interesting, as such must infer painful did not connote my words were mere product of yr average monograph-producing dullard whose role as an academic historian serves no-one but his colleague. Don't get me wrong—most of my work is performed for a small circle in allied studies—but the social function of critiquing LA Noire I take as a solemn task. In any event, I'm going to consider painful as synonymous with challenging. ("Blogging" Noire makes the process all the more important and aggravating...that I subconsciously include but consciously reject Sherman Kent's Writing History; never thought I'd have to grapple with that.)
My critique of Noire resulted in a little behind-the-scenes action, as you might imagine. Actually, I don't know what you might imagine. Probably some dime-novel enantiodromia: "Rockstar worked so hard on recreating the world of 1947 Los Angeles, they may've well given us a game about dragging an oxcart through the Duchy of Lotharingia." Nope, never implied that, nor did R* have to send their dime-novel goons after me either. Rather, now that the reviews are coming in fast and furious, it looks like they have their issues. And I have mine. Overall, me and the conventional reviewer are both quite positive. I, however, represent that previously unthought-of, unrecognized, and underutilized market: the first-time gamer. Who knew?
Anyway...as I aimlessly occupy myself like everyone else for said game to be released in a coupla hours, we'll amuse ourselves by playing "Critique the Critiques!" (Which I must admit is rather pointless as everyone who might read this once it's posted will be glued to their consoles, chasing bad guys up Main St.)
It's a really interesting article; it's quite critical of the game in terms of minute geographic accuracy, but the nature of the criticisms he makes seem so picky that it's clear that in the broad sense, at least, the city is very accurately recreated. If his complaints are mainly that signs exist that didn't exist until the early 50's, or that there were stairs rather than a road at a certain intersection, I feel pretty confident that they got the big stuff right.
Which is a fascinating statement. Naturally, I would counter with the dusty old Miesian idiom "God is in the details." I mean, Rockstar's consumed with the Gesamkunstwerk here, and you're going to let the details slide? Hey, I warned y'all. I self-confessed to nitpickery in my own text. To continue:
GotDAMN, I think they're almost expecting too much out of the game with some of those nitpicks, and also don't seem to have a firm grasp on the concept that videogames are still very much limited by the hardware. I will commend him on the amount of information in that article, but it's a little overboard IMO. And with no mention of the face capturing tech + hiring all these actors to actually play their parts, someone should tell him that the huge budget he mentioned couldn't all go towards recreating a perfect 1947 LA brick by brick.
I got that he still enjoyed it, but I feel like maybe if he stated some of his complaints in front of the Rockstar reps, they could've or should've explained how they couldn't afford to focus on recreating a 100% perfect city because they're building a GAME, and not a 1947 LA simulator. While he does point out that he pushed the "game aspects" to the background for that article since that's not where his areas of expertise lie, I think doing that does a disservice to just how much work the team has to do when making all this stuff.
I'd like to hear his opinion of the game after he puts 20 hours into it, and whether or not he's still looking at what's NOT there instead of the whole picture.
I see where you're coming from, but he explicitly noted he had no idea about video games or the industry, and was really only brought in to sample the world, not the game.
I think he was credited as a consultant too, so he probably invested considerable emotion regarding the ultimate recreation of LA.
I agree with everything said above: quite sure I'm expecting too much, nor do I have a firm grasp on anything, plus LA can't be recreated brick by brick, and no, it's not a simulator, etc. On the other hand, in case it didn't come through, I want it known that I laud Team Responsible to no end. Could I have constructed such a world? Hella course not. Let it be known I am eternally grateful and thankful to those who did. Now, will I be a "whole picture" guy after twenty hours of gameplay, as to which commenter above alluded? We'll see.
And to set the record straight on that last sentence, no, yours truly was not a consultant. That notwithstanding, I'll own up to that "he probably invested considerable emotion regarding the ultimate recreation of LA" part. I mean, they'd announced their "perfect recreation" in September of '06. And considerable emotion had already been invested in the Chitwood case and now we're honored to have gamers discover it here. Or take Eugene White: close to my heart, a non-criminal whose story included his wife to the detriment of his progeny—R*/Bondi later decided, in true noir form, to change White to Black...and lest we forget the O'Connor Electroplating Explosion, which I'm off to inundate myself with now...like sand through the hourglass, these are the kills of our lives. Should have you know I'm not the only one with my ear pressed close to the beating heart of 1947 and her legacy.
Historical knowledge will always at best be an approximation of the past. I know that. Clio alone possesses the real truth, and she will only allow us a glimpse of her treasure. The WPA maps, the Spence Air Photos, the 180,000 photos Bondi surveyed (ok, I raise an eyebrow at that number) show the dedication to which they aspired. It's refreshing, since kids today seem to be under the spell of Antoine Roquentin or the influence of Paul Valéry. History may be an argument without end, granted; but history is no less potent than our present, and when it is skewed, so skewed is our present.
Thus go the criticisms of 47PplaysLANoire, they are many and varied, but at least they all recognize what I strove to point out: I'm no gamer.
Even that concept gets called to the carpet. Was lunching the other day with a pal, and the subject of my virgin PS3 came up, and I ran through my Luddite rap, blah dee blah, which at this point I admit now sounds like so much shtick.
Politely ignoring me, my friend asked “How are you of all people not a gamer?”
“How do you mean?”
“You’re always going on about the zombie apocalypse—”
“Forthcoming zombie apocalypse,” I corrected.
“Whatever. You’ve worked through a hundred ways to defeat zombies. Then there’s your contingency plan for alien incursion or if the city is overrun by spies. Or Nazis. Or robots. You’re a dedicated firearm enthusiast, and on entering a room you take stock of its exits and supplies. Didn’t you once say that on entering a room you rank it on whom you can leave behind, but you’d never leave behind ammo?”
“That’s just common sense. You gonna finish your fries?”
“Not to mention that thing you do where you sit motionless staring at a screen, tapping away, for days on end. Classic gamer action.”
“Whose clinical name is hyperfocus. Blessing and a curse. Tell your gamer friends it’s playing havoc with their dopamine levels.”
Most men memorize NBA stats, and do so in the hope they'll get to use them: bar bet-winning material. But zombie killing tactics and SERE training is akin to having that gun in the nightstand—it's there with the hope that it never, ever provides utility. Relatedly, why would I devote my days immersed in some blood-drenched environment, a titanic flatscreen taking me through that world I so desperately wish to avoid? I have enough problems with my nightmares. I don’t even set foot into my local market any more because I’m certain Y'golonac is the manager there.
But I can't turn a blind eye to LA Noire. The concept is too engrossing, my need too enveloping. I wrote in my previous piece of the game's relationship to historiography. At this point, in a fever to amble into 1947, any further writing on the subject would more be akin to hagiography. After which the aforementioned "painful" epithet would be hurled with deserved, less subjective abandon.
So tomorrow begins. I know it will be a succulent adventure, thick with wonder; at its best, I know it will be an interesting/painful journey.
That's all I ever asked.