Category Archives: cars

Cole Phelps is L.A.’s public menace #1

Causing a ruckus in open-world games like Grand Theft Auto III or Red Faction: Guerrilla was always  fun, but short-lived. You can only go so long destroying things and being a jerk before somebody takes notice. Heck, creeping over the speed limit in Mafia/Mafia II is enough to get the sirens singing, and then the law’s on your tail, switching your biggest concern from running down mailboxes and street-lamps to running from the cops. Usually, that scenario ends with a horrific crash and reload, wherein you lose some money and respawn at the local hospital or police station. Ah, the price one pays for spoliation.

Well, since L.A. Noire‘s Cole Phelps is the law, he can do whatever he wants, nice or not, as evident below:


Public Menace (30G): Rack up $47,000 in penalties during a single story case.

The thorn in this Achievement’s side is that there’s no way to openly track how much damage in penalties one is amassing during a case. You only get these statistics at the end of a case, but I assumed that totaling a lot of cars and driving on the sidewalk for long stretches of time would be the best way to racking up fines. After an hour of this mayhem, I went ahead and finished up the case–“The Black Caesar” for the curious, which was a bad choice as it’s a pretty lengthy affair–and waited eagerly for the statistics screen to pop up. I was confident I had done enough damages, and I was right. Way too right. Ended up going overboard: $68,000 in car penalties alone, with another $8,000 or so for messing up the sidewalks so badly.

But man, crashing cars in L.A. Noire is fun…and funny, especially when you hear the things citizens say to Cole’s constant obsession with ramming them head on. “These people!” is probably my favorite of the bunch. Another nice aspect to being reckless in the 1940s is that the cars don’t blow up and Cole doesn’t go flying through the windshield with every crash. Guess that tech hasn’t been invented yet.

Now that Cole and I’ve gotten this out of our system, we can go back to being goody two shoes, in hopes of replaying all the cases and earning five-star ratings. Well, not all of them. I did great on some, but others I totally funked up, accusing the wrong dudes of crimes they didn’t commit. My bad. Also curious about some of the DLC cases; Tara was certainly excited to learn that there were more cases yet to play, but I just don’t know if they are worth the space credits or not. We’ll see how bored I get after finishing up Deus Ex: Human Revolution and waiting for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to land…

Changing discs and stopping crimes in L.A. Noire

Last night, as I progressed towards reaching the highest law rank and stopping all street crime cases in L.A. Noire, I found myself constantly changing game discs and wondering if I had somehow slipped through a tear in the universe and traveled back to the days of massively epic RPGs on the original PlayStation. Nope. I checked my computer. It was 2011, it was the age of industry, and I was playing a game on the Xbox 360. I didn’t count, but I’d venture a guess that I got up from my comfy armchair to change game discs at least more than five times–within a ten-minute timeframe. Let me explain the why though.

See, I’ve already beaten L.A. Noire, but wanted to go back and finish up all the street crime cases that I skipped during my intense, focused playthrough. I did a few of these petty crime cases in the beginning, but as the main story cases got more crazy and Cole began to lose himself in his work, so did I, letting many of these appetizers fall to the background. Thankfully, via the main menu screen, you can go back to each desk’s respective section and free roam in that world, gaining the chance to find locations, golden film reels, and stop criminals in quick, bite-sized side missions.

The problem is that since L.A. Noire on the Xbox 360 is so huge, it had to be expanded onto three separate discs, with the different desks divided up like so: Patrol and Traffic on disc one, Homicide on disc two, and Vice and Arson on disc three. My quest forward began with me popping in disc three and doing some street crimes from the Arson desk; once those were done, and the map was seemingly empty of red markers, I went to the Vice desk to do the same thing. A message popped up that said I had finished all the street crimes for this desk. Cool, thanks for that. Off to the second disc then, to play the Homicide desk. Did a few more crime missions, creeping closer to all 40 completed. No more markers on the map, but no message like before had popped up either. Oh well. Off to see what I missed during Cole’s time on the Traffic desk (Patrol has no “free roam” option). Upon starting free roam for Traffic, I got that message indicating all street crimes were complete for this desk. All right. Back to Arson desk then, switching the discs out. Load up free roam and can’t find any red markers on the map that highlight available street crime cases. I drive around for a bit and the police radio chatter cranks up, alerting me to a nearby crime in progress. Off I go…only to discover it’s a street crime case I had already completed. Grrr. Okay, maybe I missed something on the Homicide desk. Same thing happened, with no map markers, but getting called to a mission I had previously done. At this point, I only need to finish up two more street crimes to brush them all under the rug, and this is driving me mad. TO THE INTERNET, ROY EARLE! YOU CAN DRIVE.

Oh. Duhhh. Discovered that some street crime missions are only available at specific times of the day during each desk, meaning some during daylight and some at night. I had no way of knowing that.

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Basically, for the Homicide and Arson desks, I had to drive around for a good amount of in-game time, waiting for the sun to set/rise, and then–and only then–did the last two street crimes become available. They were easy ones, a car chase and a hand-to-hand brawl. I just wish that there had been a better way of keeping track of completed street crimes in the game. Like, why not have the stats printed next to the “free roam” option in the respective case folders so we wouldn’t have to load and switch out discs so much? Makes sense to me. Unfortunately, this experience does not instill me with a sense of excitement towards chasing down that final newspaper, the remaining 25+ cars, and, uh, 49 golden film reels. Yes, forty-nine. Throughout my entire L.A. Noire experience, I only stumbled across one out of those fifty collectibles.

Anyways, here’s my reward for all the back and forth disc-changing madness:


The Long Arm Of The Law (30G): Complete all street crime cases.

Games Completed in 2011, #26 – Super Mario Land

I’m scrunched up in the backseat of a loaded minivan on my way to Walt Disney World. It’s hot and uncomfortable, unpredictably bumpy; something’s jabbing into my ankle, a part of the seatbelt clicker, and there’s only so many ways for a little boy to twist and turn to avoid burning exposed skin on lava-hot plastic. The cup holder next to me is full of lollipop sticks and wrappers, most red- or orange-flavored, their savory candy heads long devoured. My mom is driving, excitement keeping her foot pressed to the pedal; there might be others in the car, but most of this is fuzzy because what I really remember most is the GameBoy gripped tightly in my sweaty hands, my time-passing device. See, I’m piloting an airplane and submarine with amazing skill, murdering everything in my path, all for a princess, a taste of freedom. I’m nine or ten years old, and I’m playing Super Mario Land for the very first time.

The second time I’m playing Super Mario Land? It’s twenty years later, and everything is different. I’m married. I’m a corporate zombie. I’ve gone through high school and college and emerged with very few friends. I’ve tried a number of different, creative ventures, failing all more or less equally. I’ve become even more responsible than I ever believed possible, taking care of everything I want to take care of by myself, because I have to. I’m motherless and crazy sad and grasping for happy straws. But some things are the same. It’s still Mario, tiny, jumpy plumber extraordinaire, and it’s a game still being played on a handheld except I’m in a comfy armchair and not on my back, seatbelt clickers stabbing me with glee. The Nintendo 3DS does a decent job of emulating Super Mario Land, and I do welcome that with the new system, one can save their progress any time they want. Back in the day, if you wanted to complete Mario’s quest and rescue the princess, you had to do it in one large gulp. Which I believe I did do.

Like Super Marios Bros 2, Super Mario Landdoes not feature Bowser as a main villain. Instead, we have the alien Tatanga, who has gone ahead and captured Princess Daisy. To save her, Mario will have to travel across the Kingdoms of Sarasaland, which is basically four worlds with their own themes. And they are…drum roll…

  • Birabuto Kingdom – Desert theme, taking place inside pyramids and so on.
  • Muda Kingdom – Water-themed levels, including an underwater stage where Mario pilots a submarine.
  • Easton Kingdom – Easter Island-themed kingdom, with some underground levels.
  • Chai Kingdom – Asian-themed kingdom, with the final level taking place in the sky.

The game’s easy. I don’t remember it being quite so easy, but then again, as I’m sure many have discovered over time, a lot of levels from Super Mario Bros 3 felt really long and challenging once, and it was always sad to discover how actually short they are and easy to skip through. Even those dancing ninja enemies in Chai Kingdom (seriously, like chai tea?) that liked to hop about were easy to avoid or take down once their pattern became obvious; I remember them giving me a lot of grief as a young plumber. The only trouble I still had many years later were the bosses, piloting plane Mario or submarine Mario to safety.

Super Mario Land was a nice trip down Memory Lane. Unfortunately, it’s not a very long or challenging game, but at least I can always boot it up again and find myself back in that minivan, back on the road, back elsewhere.

Putting miles on the clock in L.A. Noire

I beat L.A. Noire a couple weeks ago, but I’m not going to be talking about the game as a whole or its ending just yet or all the things I loved slash hated. That will all have to wait until I get to it on my 2011 Completed Games list. In the meantime, I’ve dipped back into the game to play clean up for Achievements, as well as just drive around Los Angeles without the constant pressure of finding clues, undermining suspects, and closing cases. It’s been really nice.

Team Bondi and Rockstar’s 1940s Los Angeles is bland in terms of things to do other than driving from point A to point B, but brimming with beauty and buildings to look at, observe, eye hump, and be amazed with. Aesthetics is the name of the game here, and hoping into a car, tuning in to Billie Holiday, and driving down busy city streets is a little like time-traveling. It’s also quite relaxing because, unlike Grand Theft Auto IV, bumping into a car or accidentally swerving over to the sidewalk does not get the black and white chasing after you; in fact, you’re the black and white, and the game does quietly reprimand you for reckless driving, but never enough to put the fear in you to drive as straight and narrow as they come.

I do try to drive safe and civilian-like, but sometimes I get sleepy and veer into another car. Or some dinkhead begins to turn, but suddenly decides to stop in the middle of the road; that seems to happen a lot. No worries. Cole and his partner are always fine, never thrown from there car or anything, and the cars don’t ever explode like they would in Liberty City. Crash a car, find another, and so on. The developers have made it extremely easy to stay in the game, to keep exploring and listening to those snazzy, jazzy tunes, and that’s pretty amazing as most open-world games get boring real fast. Die a few times in The Saboteur or Grand Theft Auto IV, and seeing that I’d have to re-drive (or re-walk) all the way back to where I was is more frustration than I need, and off goes the system. However, with L.A. Noire, there’s none of that. The only pain, I guess, is having to switch out between three different discs to “free roam” certain crime desks.

Anyways, last night, as the heat and sleepiness wore me down, I found out that I’d been driving a whole lot so far, unlocking this fun Achievement:


Miles on the Clock (15G): Drive more than 194.7 miles.

Obviously, this took some considerable time, especially since I reveled in the fact that, during the game’s main missions, you could totally make your partner drive to the desired location without fear of ruining your car or losing your way or simply getting distracted. However, doing so did not count towards your total mileage for this Achievement. Post-game, finding hidden cars and completing more street crime cases definitely helped with this. I think I was mindlessly driving around near the Hollywood sign though when this nugget pinged. Vroom vroom.

I still have a few more somewhat attainable Achievements to go after, meaning I’ll be spending more time in the glitz and glamor of L.A. That sounds fine to me. Locations, newspapers, more street crimes, hidden cars, golden film reels–here I come!

Here’s how the Dragon Quest IX meet-up party went down

I had it all planned out.

My car, Bullet, is due for inspection this month of August. It’s very first inspection, actually, and since the beginning of the spring I’ve noticed my steering wheel shaking a lot when I’d tap the brakes after doing 50 mph or higher. Kinda scary, most likely an attribute that could get Bullet failed. So I decided to bring it over to the mall and drop it off for some maintenance work. No biggie, because this was also the day that Nintendo-sponsored Dragon Quest IX event parties were happening nationwide in GameStops high and low. I’d just bring my DS with me and kill some time that way…while also grabbing a rare treasure map. That’s all I cared about; sorry fellow DQIXers, but I don’t want to go co-op questing with you.

So, the event, which I only knew about from the Internet and even then knew very little about it, was to start at 12 and go to about 4:00 in the afternoon. I had about an hour or so to blah-blah away so I went into the mall, found a comfy couch, and sat down to grind for XP and alchemy items. I must have been playing for about 30 minutes before I looked up and to my left. This is what I saw:

I laughed out loud. The old lady across from me sneered.

Noon hit, I entered Tag Mode and put my DS in my pocket, and then shuffled over to the nearest GameStop, hoping to pick up the map or tag some random adventurers and then get out quick. There was no one in the store. I felt kind of odd just going up and down the aisles. Eventually, I left, returned to the couch, and checked my DS to see how much awesomeness I had downloaded: 0%. Ouch.

Tara and her mom were coming back past the mall after doing her wedding gown fitting at David’s Bridal so we all had lunch together. I nom nommed on a Subway sandwich and also heard back from the car place; my drum rotor needed fixing and it would probably be completed by 3:00. Tara’s mom left to head home, and then Tara and I took a walk around the mall, eventually heading back to that GameStop from before (note: this mall has two GameStops, one on the first floor and one on the second floor, and it seems a bit overdone if you ask me). I asked the guy behind the counter if they were participating in the Dragon Quest IX meet-up party event thing, and his expression showed pure confusion. He had no idea. Looking up stuff online, which took a bit because they don’t actually have full Internet browsers there, he learned that the GameStop outside the mall and down by Walmart was the one hosting an event. Ah…okay.

I figured if I didn’t get there and get the silly little map then no biggie. It’s just a game. Tara and I then headed over to PetSmart (or is it PetsMart?) because they were having an adoption day. So many adorable dogs and cats, and if I had the room and time and money to care for them, I’d catch adopt ’em all. Then we hit up Target for a bit, finally making our way back to Sears to see how my car was doing; it was done, almost exactly at 3:00, as if magic was at work.

Sheepishly, I asked my fiancée something like this, “Can we just stop real quick at the other GameStop so I can get this DQ map? I’m sorry you’re marrying a little boy.”

She said yes. It has to be clear why I love her so much, right?

This GameStop was much more active, and it was obvious from stepping inside that an event of some sort was happening. I entered Tag Mode in my car before coming in, and as soon as I checked it I saw I had canvassed a guest named NOA1. A Nintendo rep in a blue slime shirt came over, explained what to do next after bringing in NOA1 to my inn, and chatted a bit about the event so far. He said some kids came in earlier with all LV 99 characters; my LV 26 Hadwynnn openly weeped. After getting the treasure map, the rep gave me a poster and some stickers. Tara and I left after that because, as I mentioned before, I was just there for the map and not really to socialize, but it looked like there was plenty of that going on already.

So yeah, it had some hiccups, but the event worked out pretty well. I know DQIX is a much harder sell here in the United States than in Japan, but I think these weekly events can only do good for the game. Next week, there’s one at Best Buys around the country. We’ll see if I can make it to that one, too…

Oh, and that rare treasure map? It’s basically an epic boss fight, and this boss wiped out my entire party in two turns. Don’t think I’m ready for it just yet. Maybe I never will be. But I’m glad to have it in my collection nonetheless.