L.A. Noire Review

After many years of playing as various renegades in open world games, whether it be New York City or the Wild West, Rockstar Games and developer Team Bondi bring us a new type of open world character, the honest cop. Part Grand Theft Auto, part old school point and click adventure game, L.A. Noire is an incredible cinematic experience, even if it does have some flaws.

Players find themselves in the shoes of Detective Cole Phelps, a rising star in the Los Angeles Police Department in the year 1946. From the get go Phelps seems a drastic departure from previous Rockstar game characters, Phelps is a 100% without flaw, justice obsessed do gooder, or so it seems for most of the game. The game centers around Phelps rise through the ranks, first starting as a regular patrolman and working his way up to the traffic desk and then homicide and vice. With the help of various partners through the game, players will solve murders, hit and runs, and bust drug deals.

The verdict of Detective Phelps? Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

The game uses some incredible new facial recognition technology to render actor’s faces into the game, capturing every muscle movement. Several times while playing I encountered actors I have previously seen on TV, only recreated perfectly in the game. As neat as that sounds on its own, it also serves an important gameplay purpose. A large chunk of the L.A. Noire experience is interrogating suspects. Phelps will bust out his trusty notepad, and players will select various questions to pose to the numerous suspects found in the game. Once you pose a question to a suspect, you then have to determine if they are telling the truth. If you believe they are not hiding anything, you select the truth option. If you believe they are holding something back, but you don’t have any evidence to support your claim, you select doubt. Finally if you do have evidence to contradict what the suspect says, you select lie. The basis on which you make these accusations rest solely on the suspects facial expressions. You have to watch closely as suspects give their statements. If your person of interest is constantly looking away, or scratching their head, there is a good chance they aren’t telling the truth. This great technology adds much to the gameplay and visuals of the game, adding realism to an already incredibly realistic 1946 Los Angeles.

Sadly, although I greatly enjoyed L.A. Noire, I feel like the game is incredibly hit or miss, mostly because all in all there is actually very little game here. L.A. Noire more closely resembles an interactive movie. Besides the interrogation gameplay mechanic, the detective work is broken down into driving around town, looking for clues, fist fights, chasing suspects, and the occasional gunfight. The shooting segments are almost identical to GTA or Red Dead, and while fun, don’t offer anything new. Chasing suspects is not as exciting as it sounds, as players just hold down the right trigger and run after the fleeing individual. Much of the game is scripted, and involves you chasing suspects on foot or by car until the suspect stops or crashes. The simplistic fist fighting segments are interesting and help break up the action, but once again nothing incredible. Driving from crime scene to crime scene represents the largest chunk of L.A. Noire’s gameplay, and this is all optional as you can instruct your partner to drive you from destination to destination. The next biggest chunk of gameplay is searching for clues, which involves you walking around an area until your controller vibrates and then looking at various items of interest.

Surveying the scene of the crime

The game has realistic visuals, incredible acting, awesome cinematography, great writing, and a story that keeps you in the deep in the detective experience. However, I feel like more could have been done with some aspects of the game, especially the crime scene investigation segments. If you are a fan of cinematic, story driven games and are looking for a cool crime thriller, check this game out. If you are easily bored and don’t want to be staring at an in game notebook for several hours, best skip this one.

DO play this game

To experience a great story

To be immersed in a realistic 1940’s world

To try your hand at detective work

DO NOT play this game

To have crazy fun in an open world sandbox game

Expecting over the top shoot outs and action sequences

If you don’t like lots of dialogue

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One thought on “L.A. Noire Review

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