L.A Noire Review A breath of fresh air for the gaming industry
Posted by Chris Carlson
L.A Noire offers a rich, immersive experience that no other video game can offer. Not only that, but L.A Noire takes the video game industry to the next level with this violent crime thriller masterpiece.
L.A Noire puts you in the shoes of former war hero Cole Phelps. At the start of your astounding adventure you begin as a beat cop working your way through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department. The games slow pace but very informative beginning will teach you the ropes of looking for clues, interrogating suspects, and to work like a real detective, which isn’t a simple process. L.A Noire requires a few things most games don’t. Thinking, patience, brainstorming, and puzzle solving. You have never played and probably wont play for a long time, a game like L.A Noire. Rockstar Games and Team Bondi have visually re-created a beautiful version of the 1940’s Los Angeles. The attention to detail in the world is overwhelming. Nothing has gone unnoticed. All the shops visually display merchandise in their windows, dumpsters with fallen trash and boxes next to them, children’s toys displayed next to a home, alleyways filled various different objects, etc. These are just some of the things that bring Team Bondi’s 1940’s LA to life. Team Bondi did a marvelous job capturing the atmosphere of the 1940’s making you always feel like you’re a part of this beautiful city. Not once does it let up either.
As you being your cases you start with arriving at the crime scene, getting the rundown of the situation and beginning to look for clues. You will always find various different objects but not all of them are relevant to the case. Many times I found myself picking up the same object throughout different cases over and over again, telling myself “This will be the time where I find something worth while with this object”, which any good detective will do. Once you make your way past the hour or so long tutorial, the game will no longer hold your hand. It’s up to you to find all the clues needed to give you leads, interrogating, accusing and pinning clues to the correct suspects, and much more.
Easily one of the most innovative and impressive features of L.A Noire is the new motion scan technology. This technology plays an immense part in L.A Noire more than anything. Without it, L.A Noire would simply not be the same game. Whether you’re taking a stroll down the sidewalk, interrogating a suspect, speaking with your partner, or watching one of the extremely well done cut-scenes, you will see this technology. You can visually sense fear, sadness, anger, stress, see raise of the eyebrows, wrinkling of the skin, etc in a persons face. These fine details are crucial to your interrogations. You will need to judge whether or not a person is telling the truth or lying, and sometimes it’s not easy. Have you ever accused someone of lying and they play it off until you believe them even though they’re actually lying? That is something you will experience in L.A Noire which brings video games to a whole new level. Some people crack under pressure and will be easy to break, but others will be tough, smile no matter what you say to trick you into believing them.
The game offers 21 cases which span across Patrol, Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson. Also included with 40 unassigned cases which air over your police radio. They vary from all sorts of different situations, but unfortunately ultimately end in very similar ways. Either a shootout or a chase on foot or by car that ends in an arrest or death, which can be repetitive for some, but I found them to all be enjoyable. The main cases however are much more varied and offer different experiences. Each case is roughly an hour long if not more, and none of them feel like they drag out too far which is a good thing. Every time I started a new case I was excited. While being at a certain desk means those cases will all be similar (such as all murder cases), each one feels unique sucking you into the experience. I’ve never felt such satisfaction in a game like I have after completing a case in L.A Noire and going over my statistics. Upon completing a case I looked back on my work, thought about what I could have done differently, what clues I could have missed, and how I approached certain people. L.A Noire isn’t just a game you will love, it’s a game you will appreciate for it’s purpose and what it contributes to the gaming industry.
If you ever played Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto IV, L.A Noire’s gameplay isn’t much different. Which can be painful to hear for some who feel those gameplay mechanics are “clunky”. The driving mechanics however are much different than GTA IV. In fact as much as I enjoyed GTA IV’s driving, I enjoy L.A Noire’s more. The car chases never get old due to easy handling and offer plenty of excitement through various different jumps, scripted actions, and how the damage system works. If you’re flying down the streets of L.A and come crashing into someone, you don’t just catch fire and blow up. Instead pieces from your car go flying. Hit someone the wrong way and you might just end up losing a tire. In police chases this is a very effective mechanic because you can have your partner try to shootout the tires, while you attempt to spin out a car which if you hit hard enough could have their tire flying stopping them dead in their tracks.
Same thing can be said about the gunplay in L.A Noire. The cover system present in GTA IV and RDR are here, but with a little upgrade allowing you to slide around corners while in cover. Not too significant but it’s a nice touch which can be helpful sometimes, but not often. I shouldn’t have to warn you if you been following L.A Noire to know if you’re expecting GTA with detective work, you’re going to be severally disappointed. While L.A Noire offers a great deal of action, you can’t go around mass murdering people, firing multiple rocket launches down the street, or anything close to that. In fact, the game doesn’t even let you pull out your weapon. The game will decide when and when you can’t use your firearm. Which is understandable because you play as a detective, and not a criminal. This may anger some, but it’s a smart design choice and players should appreciate L.A Noire for what it is. Not what you want it to be.
Instead, L.A Noire is a very story driven game with outstanding detective gameplay. The voice acting is over the top and one of the best I’ve seen to date. Plus with the use of Motion Scan technology it really brings the characters to life. L.A Noire does offer a free roam mode though. After completing a desk, you can return to the main menu, select cases, a certain desk, then choose “Streets of L.A”. Which will allow you to freely roam the entire city of L.A replaying the 40 unassigned cases, discovering new locations, vehicles and collecting all 50 film reels. With that said, L.A Noire suffers a few minor faults. It’s not an occasional occurrence but the frames do drop, and when they do it’s pretty noticeable. While this is the first we’ve seen of this Motion Scan technology, it still has a few issues to iron out. If the camera zooms in on a character you will often notice a motion blur around the mouth as the character is speaking. This is probably due to the depth on the inside of the mouth compared to the rest of the head, and for the most part isn’t really noticeable unless you’re starring straight at their mouth. However, theses minor faults don’t take away from the experience L.A Noire has to offer.
Overall L.A Noire is a breath of fresh air for the gaming industry. Team Bondi and Rockstar Games have truly created something special. It does what other games don’t. Provides features never seen before. Combines pioneer story telling, revolutionary technology, and rich detailed detective gameplay making L.A Noire one of the best experiences I’ve had this generation. L.A Noire does nothing but good for the gaming industry. It shows developers need to take chances, be creative, offer something different, and don’t be afraid of standing out. If you’re looking for one hell of an experience, which differs itself from every other game currently on the market. Look no further than L.A Noire. I highly recommend buying this epic title. If there is any game you can look back on this generation and say “That was one of the best $60 I’ve ever spent”, L.A Noire will be that title.
- Epic storytelling and cases
- Motion Scan technology combined with interrogations provides an experience like no other
- A lot of content for your buck. 25-30 hours to complete all main cases and unassigned cases.
- There isn’t a single game on the market that offers what L.A Noire does
- Motion Scan has a few hiccups
- If you weren’t a fan of RDR or GTA IV gameplay, L.A Noire wont sit well with you