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LA Noire Day#4: My First Day in Homicide

One big case dominates this session, and it’s a pretty good one. The rhythm of the cases is quite nice. It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s doing a nice job making me feel like a cop. The case on the other hand is right on the border of being too gross for my taste. I mean, it’s a crime story and there are nasty crimes in the world, but I’m not sure it’s the right tact for the game to give me something so raw. Not sure. I also do MUCH better this time at all of the investigation bits, and there’s some nice track laying going on in terms of the relationships of the cops, so maybe I’ve been too hard on LA Noire so far. Spoilers within.

It’s 6 months later as we come back. The new story is the “Red Lipstick Murder”  and it begins with a car at night being driven up to the top of a hill, a girl crying inside the car is  dragged out by a guy, and he hits her with a cane until she’s clearly dead. We cut to the station briefing room where Floyd (the guy whose name I found in the numbers book) is retiring after 25 years in homicide, and as a result, Phelps is promoted to homicide from burglary. Galloway is assigned as Phelps’s partner, and they are assigned to investigate murder of a woman with “marks of a werewolf.” As I walk down the stairs with my partner out of the station, we’re in a very funny sync with our animations. That’s one beautiful blue rimmed car we have now as big time detectives.

On route to the murder scene, I pick up a street mission. As we drive, Galloway reveals that Floyd is leaving because of politics. Galloway is very straightforward that he doesn’t like me. He also says that 90% of homicides are domestic and guys returning from the war caused an upsurge due to their combat exposure.  “Death Plunge” is the street mission. There’s a possible jumper on a tower, and a cop in CS says he can do the psychology to keep the guy from jumping as long as Phelps can get up there. I have to run around back and up the tower. When I get up there, the jumper gives up and Phelps CS gets him away from ledge to complete the mission. Huh, simple narrative thing – I like how prosaic it is as a piece of police work.  I immediately take a second  street mission: “Would Be Robber.” There’s a CS of hold up of a stand where a bystander got shot. A car then drives quickly out from the lot and we get control to give chase. I make a wrong turn and loose suspect once, which frankly feels not really far because I was keeping pace with the car on a parallel street. The first turn the car makes is very tight and I keep losing the car I’m chasing on it. I keep pace the third time, but when the car stops, the driver takes a hostage and I accidentally shoot the hostage because I’m cocky taking my shot. I keep failing from the stupid driving, but about the sixth time I finally get it right, taking down the hostage taker and chasing down and shooting the other criminal who ran from the scene. Damn, that sucked with that awful turn in this game with awful driving.

I finally get to the crime scene, and there’s a journalist and photographer waiting. Phelps insults them and they mock his integrity. We then pan along the ground to find a naked mutilated woman. That is not pleasant at all, and while I know that’s the point, it’s still borderline wrong to show in a game to me. Phelps CS talks to the beat cop on the scene, and then I start my investigation. I find footprints and get a shoe size. Examining the body reveals blunt trauma on the head and a missing ring. There is lipstick writing on the body’s stomach with lots of black dahlia references but I’m guessing that’s a decoy. Continuing my investigation, there’s lipstick in the victim’s bag but it was not used to write on the body. I also find a puzzle globe with four different rotating bands, and I have to make Americas line up properly. When I do, it opens to reveal the address of a Bamba Club. A bit random, that puzzle — I doubt that’s puzzle solving in taught in the academy. I leave to head to the club. I have to mention that there’s a weird squishy sound when I walk around here and it’s incredibly annoying. Fuck, the game froze; I end up having to do the whole crime scene again. Sigh.

On the drive to the Bamba, they talk about the Black Dahlia. Phelps is a bit optimistic that they could actually catch that perp, but Galloway says it’s a copycat and it’s the press’s fault they didn’t catch the first one. I take a side mission “Unsuccessful Holdup.” A gas station guy holds off criminals in CS, and they run into the sewers. I chase them and shoot them until we get to the train tracks to kill the last two. That mission complete, I get to the Bamba Club. There’s a CS of a talk to the bartender. He gives Celine Henry as the victim and tells me to talk to the owner in the back. Galloway gets a drink and leaves me to do the interview. I find the owner and start the interview. He mentions Jacob Henry, the victim’s husband, and I note that the owner is quite broken up about the death. He called the husband to pick her up since she was drunk (this seems to be a common exchange) but he wouldn’t come this night. The owner saw her leave with a stranger, but he took the license plate. He also reveals on a doubt that he bought the victim an expensive ring because he was crushing on her. As I leave, I make a call to check the license plate and the operator tells she’ll send me the details by KGPL — is that my car’s CB?

We’re done with the owner, and as we leave, Phelps CS gets the address of the Henry apartment. That’s our next stop, and we get there without incident. On said drive, Galloway reveals with his jokes just what a drunk he is and he makes fun of Phelps for being a politician and a saint. Phelps replies that they have a duty to solve crimes and that Galloway’s kind of sloppy behavior may have caused other perps to go free. We knock on the front door, and while we wait, Galloway goes around the back. Galloway CS looks in a broken window and then kicks in the back door to enter the apartment and let Phelps in. Since the apartment has already been broken into, we decide to search it. I find a newspaper on a bench and its headline of a fatal fire cuts to a CS of the arsonist calling the therapist in a panic. He implies that the therapist sent him to burn that house, but it wasn’t empty as promised. The therapist just asks if the guy took his drugs. Is this therapist going to be the big villain? Seems so. Anyway, I get control back in the apartment and search around. I find a Tiffany case for the ring as well as a note from Jacob revealing that he’s staying in another apartment. Phelps CS says he wants to have a talk with the neighbors, so I guess that’s what I’m doing next. I talk to a Mrs. Horgan in the next yard over, and she reveals that the Henry family was fighting a lot.

I then go to Jacob’s apartment with Galloway convinced that the husband did it. When we get to the apartment, there’s a CS of Phelps and Galloway breaking into the apartment and arresting Henry. He seems very confused. We sit him down and search the apartment. I find a note on the pad (I scratch the pad with a pencil to reveal the last message) revealing he wanted to do something about wife. I find shoes in the bedroom, but I realize (and interestingly the game doesn’t call this out) the shoes don’t match the prints from the scene. I then talk to the husband. He lies about getting calls from bar and about the note, but he says that he didn’t do it and claims that the note was a message that he wanted to have her committed for her alcoholism.  I for one think he’s totally telling the truth; the facts don’t add up here. Galloway starts mocking Henry about being a murderer, and Henry hits Galloway in anger. I now have to fist-fight Henry, and it’s a slightly hard fight to beat and then cuff him. Once he’s cuffed (in CS), we have to call for a squad car. When I do, the operator puts on the coroner and he reports that blunt trauma didn’t immediately kill the victim and that he attacked her with sexual violence as well. The operator also gives us a name associated with the car we saw: Mendez. We cut to a CS of the husband getting put in the police wagon.

Leary calls us over the CB to tell us he wants us back at central immediately, but on the drive back, I take a street mission called “Cop Killer Shot.” It starts with a CS of cops pinned down and getting hit, and then telling Phelps he has to charge up to the roof to get the shooter. I get control to zigzag my way to the building and then up a drainage pipe without getting shot. I get to the roof and pop the killer easy-peasy.  That mission finished, it’s back to central. There’s a CS of Phelps and Galloway walking in to see Captain Leary. Phelps says they have a lead in the case, but the captain says we should just get a confession from the husband and that Phelps shouldn’t contradict the captain’s opinion on the case. Galloway, cowardly bastard that he is, says to keep him out of it and won’t back Phelps up. The captain also says he softened the husband up for the interview.  I have no interest in torturing this innocent guy, so I just walk out of central and go to Mendez’s house first. I manage to hit a pedestrian on the way there — thank you awesome Rockstar driving. When we arrive, I kick open the door and search the place, finding the murder weapon right out in the open in the killer’s bedroom. Mendez returns while we’re searching, and that leads to a (guess what?) chase, first on foot to a car. I’m keeping up pretty well, but there’s one narrow stretch of road it takes me like three times to lose him on. The last time though, I keep up beautifully and end the chase with a SPECTACULAR car accident that lights his car on fire and nearly flips it over. Now THAT is what I’m talking about — criminals, run in fear from my force of good. We cut to a CS of Mendez in prison, telling the cops he’s not saying a goddamn thing. We cut to a CS of the captain thanks the two cops for the hard work. He pours a scotch into a glass for a toast, but hands it to Galloway and leaves Phelps out. That’s an interesting set-up. With that, the case is case closed. 18/19 clues and 6/6 questions, and the tip is just a restatement of case. Maybe I’m getting better at this – perhaps I’m being too hard on the mechanics of this game. I decide to end on this good note.

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  1. Margaret M says

    I found I liked driving a LOT better once I found the fancy hidden cars. They really do handle better. The only downside is that Rockstar periodically takes them away again and drops you back into the standard squad car.

    On the mutilated body, I had the same reaction, and I found it particularly gross that I had to make Phelps straddle the body to examine it. In terms of UI, it’s less painful than walking around it pixel-hunting, but it’s just creepy – if I hadn’t already had to do the same thing with two clothed male victims I probably would have stopped playing at that scene.

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