Monday, 4 July 2011

LA Noire: Nicholson Electroplating

Placed deep in LA Noire's final act, Nicholson Electroplating interrupts, then diverges the established narrative with what initially appears to be total calamity. Phelps's serial story recapping is nixed mid-flow by a mushroom cloud blossoming on the horizon. Your partner briefly frets about a Soviet extinction invasion before duty instinct kicks in. Leaping into your patrol car, the two of you peel towards the devastation. The sky is black, the streets washed brown with debris, a fine rain of glittery fallout drifting down from above.

Your destination marker leads you through trauma shock LA to a row of shops being ransacked by armed opportunists. Like any good disaster cop, you pull a bead on two of the harder cases, chase them down, then coolly execute them. Unfortunately, intent soon shifts. The sky rapidly clears - turns out the explosion was sub-sub-nuclear - and you spend the rest of the case trailing pimps, with a taste for industrial espionage, on the Howard Hughes payroll. Nicholson Electroplating is a colourful enough beat, but it never lives up to the promise of its opening seconds. That teased a speculative nightmare scenario; the player desperately scrambling to restore a vague sense of order following an overwhelming atomic attack. This DLC could have been a complete genre recalibration in the vein of Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare installment, instead it's just another diverting post-retail chapter.

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