2015 Celebration: L.A. Noire Review… from 2011

Well it was another vintage year here on Grig Orig, with high calibre articles and reviews quite literally pouring out of every orifice – most notably the anus in many a case. Ha ha. So what better way to celebrate not only publishing something EVERY MONTH and on occasion actually having MORE THAN ONE POST within those months, than by finally completing a Grig-dream three plus years in the making!

The dream? Finally publishing my review of L.A Noir that has been being sculpted in my phone ever since its release all those years ago! Out of date, minimal relevance, long forgotten, pure Grig!

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But first, some history. This was going to be my review to end all reviews; all singing, all dancing, chock full of illustrations and comical images, and of course, the top notch critiquing that has become synonymous with Grig Orig. Then of course, there’s the reality that this finished post will have none of that in order to just get the grigging thing out.

Oh, and it was supposed to explain why and how The Grig got locked in Grig Towers basement where he’s been gestating ever since.

And naturally, as always, be prepared for an article that’s longer than Taylor Swifts legs, and they be grigging loooooooong, as tends to be the way when I scribe for Grig. Particularly from back then when I had a li’l more enthusiastic juice in the tank. So sit back, relax, and imagine a time when you were younger. I’ll see you Greaders in the empty comments section on the other side. Peace.

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Late May, 2011. I receive a phone call at my desk informing me that the Ripper had struck again. I threw on my Trilby and swiftly headed for the stairs.

Down on level 23 of Grig Towers, the pandemonium was rampant as security cordoned off the area and terrified employees lined the corridors trying to come to terms with the latest in a long line of horrific incidents. I swept past them and ducked under the Police tape spun like a large web across the door, behind which lay the gruesome crime scene. I found myself standing in the women’s toilet amidst a flurry of bustling Police and security activities. The flashing bulbs of photographers blinked all around as they documented the hideousness. Suddenly, the head of security stopped me in my tracks, his outstretched arm the last line of resistance between me and the victim.
‘Dibbs. You… you don’t wanna go in there.’
I glanced towards the cubicle in question, a guard standing in front of the closed door to sheath the unpleasantness.
‘I’m sorry,’ I replied, ‘it’s the only way.’
I ventured forward and flashed the guard my ID; a Game Rewards card, the loyalty points on which were long since forgotten if there were any at all. He nodded and stood aside. I pushed the door open and walked in.

It had been a while since I’d seen such a brutal and malicious crime as this. There before me the victim lay. A porcelain Twyfords circa 1998, an authoritative ‘Out Of Order’ sign adorning the top of it’s superstructure. Sure, she was no spring chicken, but there had been some good times on this lavatory. And she certainly didn’t deserve this.
I glanced at the arm of excrement that rose up with more menace than the prime of the Roman Empire. This was the work of no woman, I mused. I looked closer. The skid marks down the front of the bowl insinuated that she’d gleefully been ridden backwards with great indignity. The scuff marks on the wall either side of the water tank seemed to confirm this. My eyes chanced to my left as I reeled away in disgust. That was when I noticed the cubicle wall. As I looked on, I had to restrain myself from reaching as i read the taunting text. A message, written in what was clearly the Rippers own faecal matter proclaiming ‘I am Cack. All your base are belong to us.’
Already the cogs in my mind were turning.

To be continued…

Welcome one and all as you join us once again for another belated review of Griggish flavouring, or Grig a la mode if you will, as we keep things continental taking our cue from gaming heavyweight L.A Noire, probably pronounced ‘La Noy-ree’ in its native, er… Swaziland (except it’s not).

L.A Noire is an epic adventure of gargantuan proportions that once again sees Rockstar moving the video gaming goal posts, taking their tried and tested GTA open-world formula and giving it a hearty 1947 makeover. There be no presentational or graphical skimping in this baby, as the big RS draft in proper actors and capture their performances via new facial animation before slapping their digitised mugs convincingly all over the in-game personages scattered throughout the city of L.A. The results of which have been one of the main talking points for any and all that have witnessed even so much as one of the games many cut scenes and has created quite a buzz around it. But careth not for the first foray into the presentational sheen of the future that will surely follow this release en masse! The Grig boggles itself with things more significant than such shallow tomfoolery! So let us dive in now and see what’s really under the hood of this beast and go through it with Grigs usual fine tooth pubic louse comb!

L.A 1947. A sleepy year in the city of Angels apart from a few mundane crimes such as the odd domestic disturbance, petty thefts, and Ghostbusters not existing yet. Homicides themselves were thin on the ground save for a few examples of quarrels gone awry, usually involving an irate husband and a heavy handed wife burning the dinner (justifiable homicide?). Then the case of Elizabeth Short kicks the city into gear, more famously known as the Black Dahila, America’s most renowned unsolved murder and seemingly the crime that inspired this entire game. 1947 is just getting started!

Lineup

‘It’s definitely number two. No, three! Wait… I meant one. What was the question again?’

You start out as a rookie cop called Cole Phelps and are immediately dropped straight into investigating a brutal murder. The game kindly leads you by the hand taking you through the mechanics of investigating a crime scene which is very straight forward training-mode-esque mission. Basically, search for small clues around the area until the pad vibrates to tell you there’s something there, then examine it. Or even, it could be something to do with that big splatter of blood against a door where some dude has had his brains blown out. Hmm? Anyway, from here you can check your handy notebook and go over all your evidence and figure out where you need to go, setting destinations and strategising about your next move. Before you know it you’ll be adventuring your merry way all over town solving crimes, chasing crooks, beating up fraudsters and capping criminals in their thieving rectums! Woo hoo!

Now don’t get any ideas of sitting around a smoky office flipping through a million bits of paper digging for clues, everything is very hands on. In fact, after my first day on the job as a transport detective, I’d already shot around 20 people all in the name of upholding the law. Certainly beats writing tickets!

Ted's Dad

There are a bunch of familiar actors. Recognise this dude? Yep! It’s only freakin’ Teds Dad!

There is little immediacy with this game, save for the impressive graphics, acting, and facial animation. Its a fair bet that your average gamer will have COD back in the machine in less time than the duration of an X Factor contestants career once the sheen has worn off and you’re a few hours into the game. It’s a fair bet that quite a large contingent of players will rapidly grow weary of the games mechanics and stories. However, for those who dig just that bit further, the better the game becomes. The investigations become longer, and the depth of your interrogations follow along with it. However, things again start to level off around the middle of disc 2 and you will soon be slogging your way through it rather than relishing it.

Photo LA

Grig recon, circa 1940’s. Probably stocking pics of Teri Hatchers Mum for the archives here at Grig Towers.

Speaking of interrogations, this is an area that’s a bit of a mixed bag. When talking to suspects, you’re given three possible responses that can be determined through what you know about them, and their facial expressions. You can either believe them, doubt them, or accuse them of lying, backing it up with an item of evidence to prove it. It sounds simple, however the line between doubting them and accusing them of lying is fuzzier than Fozzy Bears naughty bits. However, even worse is that the game can sometimes expect you to make sense out of picking answers that don’t even fit the question.
Case in point: Phelps asks a man if his wife was at home long, he says not really. However, the answer you’re looking for is that she ran out the door with her husband chasing her. It’s almost like it’s the answer to a different question as being chased has nothing to do with how long she was at home.
I asked a man to give an account of his whereabouts the previous evening and he asks me if I have proof that he’d done time in jail. I didn’t, but what the heck is that all about? I ask a question, he asks one back that I can’t answer, and I fail the question? Sort it out!

Blood Car

‘Well that’s the last time I buy the missus tampons from Lidl…’

Phelps himself is an interesting character, if not particularly likeable. There’s an obvious depth to his character that is unravelled slowly via flashback style cutscenes going into his days as a WW2 soldier. However, he often comes across a little more Joe Friday with his rulebook following and being unintentionally funny, than a cool cat like Pep Streebeck. Not that a character like that would fit this game in any way. But it doesn’t make him the most likeable of leads. But speaking of unlikable people, let’s get back to Detective Dibbs’ sleuthing shenanigans!

The media had always had a penchant for blaming mankind’s worst atrocities on video games and those that played them, however this time I was inclined to agree with them. The cryptic message left by the fiendish phantom now donned ‘Cack the Ripper’ was turning fingers towards Grig Towers gaming department from all over the establishments home town of Medieval England, Iowa. Although it had been several days since the crime itself, I was still finding it hard to let myself unwind in the wake of the allegations. I lay awake all night, my mind concocting a myriad of headlines that would be adorning the front pages of the morning papers with fresh theories and potential suspects from within Grig Towers, as well as the tiresome excess of poo-related puns. It was only a matter of time before I myself would surely have the spotlight turned on me. Diahrohea Ahoy, Dibbs A-hole, and even a stretch to anal Dribbles Oh Boy, all were reverberating round my cranium. That bout of the squits i had that i had seen the quack for back in ’96 would no doubt be leaked to the press and would make for very interesting reading to armchair sleuths up and down the country for certain.
My trail of thought was disturbed as the ring of the phone pierced the night air.
I absorbed what the voice on the other end was telling me and did well to only break out in a cold sweat.
‘Yes sir, I’ll be right there.’ were the only words I spoke.

It was around 4am when I arrived at Grig Towers. Already the streets were filled with paps leering through the windows and hassling security. I fought off my minds hazy blur from my lack of sleep and strode through them. I rode the elevator up to the floor I’d been told about. The doors opened and I was greeted with the sight of an obviously traumatised cleaner, apparently the one who’d found the scene, sitting up against the wall as police and staff huddled around her trying to stem the torrent of tears tumbling down her cheeks. I marched straight past them and through the police line stretched across the womens staff toilet door, ignoring the guarding officer kindly holding out a nose peg that in retrospect, i really should have taken. I winced as the odour hit me and I began to heave.

This time it was the sink. A brown quagmire filled its innards, indiscernible chunks marred what would have been an otherwise rather flush lay. He was getting more brave… and reckless. I took a towel from a nearby rail and used it to sheath my nose and mouth, replacing it seconds later after noticing that the fellon had clearly cleaned himself up with the item such was the 3 inch wide marmite motorway emblazoned upon it. I reached out of the door and took the nose peg gladly still on offer. Stooping to glance the shoe scuffs either side of the stem of the basin, several things were apparent. The same colour tone as I’d seen before was obvious implying it was from the same shoe, but this time there was more definition. The pattern of the tread of the footwear was visible. Although the crime scene itself would no doubt haunt me for months, I didn’t know what would trouble me more; the sight before me, or the fact I recognised the print from the shoe.

Stay tuned…

Graphically, the game is solid. The engine is smooth and the frame rate is steady and while it doesn’t quite have the smack you in the face appeal of GTA, does a great job in capturing the open streets of 1947 L.A. Naturally here, we’re obliged to talk about the facial animation which is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else that’s gone before it and has proven to be a big talking point. It’s an interesting way of taking things to the next level, with the performances of the actors being grafted on to the character models in a convincing manner. This high level face rendering tomfoolery does however draw your attention to the fact that by comparison, other things like the character graphics and animation look a bit rubbish. Individually you would never really notice, but together they can tend to jar slightly. It’s a bit like Pippa Middletons posterior – on it’s own a fine piece of hardware in the context of the royal wedding when it’s only competition would be the soiled under crackers of Camilla Parker Bowles, but put it next to a prime piece of gold hot-panted Kylie Spinning Around goodness would see Minogue run rings (oh my giddy aunt…) around it, and suddenly the big P. Middy (has anyone actually called her that yet, or was that a Dibbs original?) doesn’t look so appealing.

Cole Phelps

‘Why doesn’t my face seem to go with my body, you great bucket of buh?!’

One of the downfalls of LA Noir, and likewise with Red Dead, is that Rockstar established a method of play in the open world of GTA, but every other world they’ve adapted it to, is worse than GTA. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the setting and the era, but could you really imagine a Need For Speed loving youth being interested in tottering around town in the cars of the day that are far more Driving Miss Daisy than they are The Fast and the Furious. And as I say, even though I’m a fan of the time period and stylings, my attention did tend to wander, so I’d forgive those without a passing interest to walk away after only a short while.

car driving

Well, it’s a car driving. At least it says ‘Ico’ on the licence plate. Probably more exciting than much of this game.

All in all, while the game has a lot of elements going in its favour, the whole thing comes together with a li’l sense of being underwhelming. It’s a shame, as with a finer hand crafting this game, it could have been amazing. As it is, it’s a bit like Cole Phelps himself; seems ok upon acquaintance, but is soon a little bit boring to spend a lot of time with, and before you know it you’re slating him to your mates.

Graphics: Decently realised version of 1940’s L.A, with some fine textures and a detailed and sprawling city ticking over at a good enough frame rate to avoid distraction. Cars are well represented, and the characters themselves are passable. The star of the show is obviously the facial animations, which are impressive, even if the rest of their body’s look a bit knobbish.

Gameplay: Characters handle slightly awkwardly, almost as if they’re brimming with too much animation leaving them slightly sluggish as it all plays out. Cars are ok, though due to the limited power back then can be a little boring to drive. Questioning mechanics in interrogations are pretty rubbish on occasion and are a complete lottery if you don’t know the answers beforehand.

Sound: Fitting. The brooding horns give the apt feel of intrigue for your Detective work, whereas more action packed segments are complimented by more necessary toe tappers. I’d hardly throw on the soundtrack… if it had one but,fine, appropriate, unremarkably present.

Overall: Starts off well, seems like it could be awesome, pitters out a bit, dies. Though its a fine looking corpse that’s been done up to look better dead than its fleeting moments alive. What do I mean by that? It’s mostly toilet, but maybe worth giving a half an hour if you can find it for a couple of quid.

But before we go, let’s conclude our fantabulous tale, coz there be plenty more toilet humour for your inner three year old to chortle at still left in my (toilet) tank!

Everybody says they will always remember where they were when they learned of the assassination of JFK. I certainly do; I wasn’t born. But this is one crime that I will never shake for the rest of my days.

It had been several more days since the last victim was found, and I was struggling with my conscience over an overwhelming suspicion that I knew the identity of Cack the Ripper. Everything was pointing to him, for indeed, a gentleman, if I dared to use the term to describe the individual as such, my suspect was. I sat at my desk basking in the mid afternoon sun streaming through the window as I leafed through the Police profilers report. Apparently the urine stained taps i’d failed to clock through watering eyes that had been hosed down by the faecal-foe told us that it was personal. I’d say. The amount of times I’d heard my prime target bellow in rage after Grig Towers high pressure taps had once again soaked his nether regions after an innocent hand washing giving the illusion of a incontinent-esque accident was in triple figures. Heck, I’ve even been tempted for a little golden shower revenge on the darn things myself from time to ti… I froze. Sympathising with this monster and his exploits was not a path I wanted to go down, and in fact, quite the contrary, I had to end this.

I proceeded to set up a trap; a brand new toilet down on twelve, freshly commissioned as a gift from Shires U-Bends for comparing FIFA’s gameplay to being akin to a skid mark found in their brand of toilets in a recent review prompting a surge of lavatorial sales. It was going to be like a moth to a flame. Or so I thought.
Days passed and there was not so much as a smear of ring on any surface whatsoever. No chug on the mirror, no turd on the taps, no skid on the pan. I sat at my desk despairing. The immense pressure I was under was incredible, and my web was becoming increasingly strained and threadbare as I waited for my prey to fall into it. Screw it, I thought, I’ve got bog on the brain and I needed a leak. Leaping up from my desk, I headed in to the Grig Orig gaming departments toilets located in our very offices… which is when I had all my fears confirmed. For indeed, as I rounded the door into the gentlmens facility I was greeted by the ghastly sight of my prime suspect, The Grig, knees spread in full squat facing my direction over the Sega urinals we’ve recently had installed, racing suit pulled right down to his ankles, a guttural roar of pure mirth reverberating off of the nearby cubicles, and an apparent brown tail curling into the bowl with clinical precision like a toxic Mr Whippy telling me that he was in the process of claiming another, yet final victim. I’d caught the lowlife red handed!
‘Freeze punk!’ I ordered as he clocked me and stared at me visor to eye as I reached in to my jackets inner pocket and pulled out my Dreamcast light gun, fixing it squarely on him.
‘Cack the Ripper, I presume?’ I said. The Grig said nothing in reply. Mainly as he doesn’t speak which wont help this story along much. Darn.
‘I bet you thought you were being pretty clever, huh? Waiting for all eyes to be fixed on the bog on twelve, leaving you to skid up this poor, innocent urinal without having to worry about being discovered. But I had you this whole time. I knew what you were gonna do before you even did it. I’d figured out the pattern you were operating by and i knew the next place you’d hit, was here, right under our noses.’ I said.
The Grig tilted his head as if to question my last statement.
‘Yeah ok.’ I said, ‘I actually just needed a slash, but that’s not impor…’
I was cut off mid sentence by a warm sensation emanating from my crotchal area and seemingly expanding down the leg to the side of which I was dressed.
‘Darn it!’ I exclaimed, my need for relief taking matters into its own hands. But it was too late. The Grig had already taken his moment and bolted for the door leaving a trail of brown droplets in his wake. I responded instantly, easing off a few rounds of my light gun which ate up the ground and nearby wall as he darted through the door. Or at least it would have if it hadn’t been that very moment that I realised that this was a Dreamcast gun with very little effect on real life. Darn again.

I followed his trail of poisonous brown into the corridor, the smiling face of Lucy Verasamy adorning every available ounce of wall space in pictures as far as the eye could see providing a brief and welcome distraction in my pursuit. Love the interior design here at Grig Towers. And that was when I saw him; The Grig, hands high in the air, and racing suit still hanging around his ankles, saturated with smudges of the unspeakable. Was he… giving up? I fixed my gun firmly on him and clocked the surroundings for a potential ambush. Hmm… Lucy Verasamy…. yummy! I got my head back on the situation and decided to approach with caution.
And that’s when it hit me. I almost didn’t even notice it initially, as the sounds from the Sega urinals were by this point a fair distance away. But it was unmistakeable. The alarm that sounds when a new high score is achieved and the girls skirt gets blown up really high by the wind. As my ear focused more I was certain. This wasn’t about vandalism or some kind of sick fetish. Well… at least, probably not entirely. This was about gaming. And revenge.
It had been a year since Kathy from marketing had knocked The Grigs high score off the top of the scoreboard with a projectile streak of urination that was pure Olympic grade. And The Grig had been planning on beating that score ever since, gradually warming up over the past few months with the widely reported incidents, until this; his glorious crescendo, a piece de resistance, a turd of athletic finesse. And he’d done it. He’d finally done it. And for him, it was all worth it.

wind1

As the Police cuffed The Grig and started leading him to the high security basement here at Grig Towers, the staff of Grig Orig stood around and watched. Sure, we’d had our differences with this fellow over the years, and the odour in the office alone would take years to subside, but we had to give credit where credit’s due. Although we’d taken different paths in life, one thing remains true – the teams dedication to gaming is second to none. And this was something clearly instilled in The Grig. It’s just sometimes, the cost of hitting the heights of the top of a leader board can be more pricey than others. But it was a price The Grig was prepared to dig deep for.

It was over. But more importantly to The Grig, so was Kathy’s reign. And although we couldn’t see his face behind his visor as the battalion of paps snapped away, I mused that more likely than not, The Grig was smiling behind there. It’s just a shame his nether regions were not leaving so much to the imagination, as even as the baying crowds massed as he was lead away, nobody had thought to sheath him. Or give him a wipe.

Fin.

The Grig Photofit

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