“…this game follows in pure noire fashion from damsel in distress, crooked cops, night clubs, corruption and greed.” “The world environment is impressive…” “Rockstar definitely achieved a new level with me by the end of the game.” – by Trent Tomlinson
Format : Xbox, PS3
By: Trent Tomlinson
That Extra Something: 8
Total: 8.5 out of 10
Rockstar tackles another genre by delving into the seedy world of noire. After their well crafted 2010 release of Red Dead Redemption I had more than enough faith that they would take L.A. Noire and turn it into everything I hoped for and more.
The player begins the story as patrol officer Cole Phelps who makes his way across detective desks one case at a time. Keep in mind that this is not a censored game. You will investigate brutal rapes, beatings, overdoses, fires and car wrecks that all end with murder. You will search the crime scenes, victims’ homes, suspect locations and even have to interview/interrogate persons of interest using logic and reason to piece evidence together for an air tight case.
The overall game play revolves around the norm for Rockstar games – open world environment that you can interact with at any point; commandeer vehicles, assault innocent people and destroy public/private property. While these types of actions were rewarded in previous Grand Theft titles, L.A. Noire rewards you for completing cases and chasing down suspects with as little damage as possible. Learning how to drive a heavy assed Buick through on-coming traffic without getting hit is definitely a plus here.
Investigation is simple enough. You search a crime scene waiting for vibration to let you know you have discovered a clue. There is a music cue as well that will let you know when an item is in close proximity as well as when you have discovered all items at a scene. Extra clues can be found after the music at some locations.
Interrogation and interviewing is extremely cool. You can ask pre-written questions and then respond with 3 choices; they are lying, you doubt them or they are telling the truth. Accusing someone of a lie can be tricky since you need to have evidence to back up your claim. Doubting someone is used when you do not believe them but you have no evidence to prove it. Choosing the correct response and evidence when needed leads to more dialog options and more clues to lead you on your case. Apart from foot chases and high speed car pursuits these are the basic elements of L.A. Noire.
Graphically this game is superb. The motion capture for all the actors is amazing. The expressions you see on suspects is simply impressive and helpful when investigating. L.A. Noire without this level os motion capture would be almost impossible to play for most people since telling if someone is lying relies largely on their facial expressions when answering questions. Not everyone is a dead giveaway though. Rockstar made sure to throw in some seriously good liars to mess you up.
The world environment is impressive when you take into consideration the amount of detail they put into everything. Replicating the street layouts from aerial photographs taken during the time period the game is set. The signage is largely replicated from actual advertisements that would have adorned the street of Hollywood in that day.
The soundtrack is based largely on period music – Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, The Ink Spots and even radio broadcasts shows pulled from archives for the game. There are fitting orchestral pieces and even jazz accompaniments spread throughout.
The story is a tricky part to discuss. Everyone who has followed L.A. Noire since its announcement years ago knew there was going to be parts that included the Black Dahlia murders. This is just a footnote in the overall story. The Black Dahlia only acts as a stepping stool to sky rocket your career to super detective while letting you see the real under workings of the powers that be in L.A. Noires’ police force. I can’t really tell you too much about the real story other than it is well written, scripted and thought out for that period of L.A.’s history and hard realities. I myself being a huge fan of noir film can say everything in this game follows in pure noire fashion from damsel in distress, crooked cops, night clubs, corruption and greed. Rockstar definitely achieved a new level with me by the end of the game.
That something extra came for me when I reached the last desk in the game. Desks are your chapters – you begin as a patrol officer then move up to traffic, homicide, ad vice and then arson. This last desk, arson, is when you see everything you have done begin to make sense in the grand scale of things. Big cases from the past begin to mix together and create an entirely new puzzle that leads you to a fantastic ending in full noire style. A little something extra for me was the ability to play the game in full black and white. This really ups the appearance of the game to a new level for me with the hard shadows and almost metaphoric contrasts you expect from noire film.
Overall I would say this is a fantastic game with a lot of replay value. When the game was finalized I read they were sitting on 3 discs of additional content they could not fit into the already 3 disc release so I expect a lot of dlc’s coming for this game.