the daily column

Video Game Values

Overthinking It reviews L.A. Noire, and realises it isn’t your run-of-the-mill sandbox game:

There are a few ways to play L.A. Noire:

  1. Do your best on the fly, looking for clues at crime scenes and making your best guesses, maybe taking advantage of the in-game help, but mostly just playing at the pace of the story to get to the next cutscene.
  2. Read or watch walkthroughs and do the things they tell you to get five stars on every mission.
  3. Puzzle out the specifics of the cases, which can be surprisingly time-consuming and require a whole lot of attention to detail.
  4. Focus on reading the characters’ faces and gestures, and use that to guide you through interrogations, rather than the evidence.
  5. Brute-force everything, clicking on everything in every search and restarting each interrogation over and over again until you get it right.
  6. Dick around, free-roam and do side quests and stuff.

[I]n video games, brute forcing is almost guaranteed to work — rather than a problematic chore for cryptologists, it has become the major driving force behind playing most games, ostensibly for fun. Let’s act like algorithms for a few hours until dinner-time. Ah, leisure!

The thing that surprises me the most aboutL.A. Noire is how badly brute forcing works

I’ve played L.A. Noire and that’s all absolutely true – the usual approach of try-it-and-see fails altogether, and the game definitely discourages attempting to replay right away. It’s frustrating in many ways to feel like you don’t get to see “everything” in the game, but I guess that’s the point being made in this article.

There’s some interesting observations in there about how the mentality of video gaming is changing mindsets of the younger generations, how video games subvert normal expectations of how to deal with situations and just general riffing on the whole issue of video games and human psychologies. Fascinating stuff.

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