Developer: Team Bondi
Release Date: 5/17/2011
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When you see Rockstar’s name on a box you expect a dark, mature, and innovative single player game and L.A. Noire is just that. Meet Detective Cole Phelps. A World War II war hero who was given the Silver Star. He is now LAPD’s newest officer and you start rising up the ranks. The game has four desks to play as you move along which are Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and then Arson. The story is very weird because about 2/3 of the game is just case by case and the overall story doesn’t really start or pick up until the very end. It’s nice to have little stories within a huge one, but the ending is riveting and shocking so expect something good there.
The gameplay consists of walking around realistically rendered crime scenes and finding clues to add to your notebook. You will hear music playing in the background indicating there are still clues in the area. When you walk by one a sound will chime and your controller will vibrate. When you pick up a clue you can manipulate it by rotating the analog stick or sometimes you will have to investigate further by opening something or finding certain info on a piece of paper. There are so many different types of objects in the game it’s insane. Everything is beautifully and realistically rendered and this helps make the game one of the best looking ones to date.
Los Angeles is rendered fairly accurate from the time period with the use of actual city logos and protocols for LAPD. Real street names are used and even landmarks from the city are accurately rendered in the game. This also helps in cases because you might actually know where the area is if you are familiar with it. Going back to investigating there are so many different types of cases that I could spend days describing them all. The variety is great, but the actual procedure is repetitive. You drive to the marked spot on your map, investigate, search for clues, then go interrogate. Rinse and repeat over a dozen times.
interrogated and questioning people is what makes L.A. Noire such a big deal. The new motion capture technology for facial animations is just 100% realistic. Every muscle moves, you can detect twitches, neck muscles move in their neck, you can see them swallow hard when nervous, this is the first game that has true realistic facial animations. You will be stunned when you first see this and it’s also kind of creepy how real it looks. Of course, this ties into gameplay because you have three options which are Truth, Doubt, Lie. After each question (which is why finding clues are key or you may not be able to question them properly) you choose one of the three. If you pick the right one you will hear a certain tone. Accusing someone of lying requires showing evidence so really make sure you have it before doing so. If you have trouble with this you can use intuition points that will take away an answer or you can ask the Social Club community.
I love this gameplay mechanic, but a lot of the times I felt like I was just purely guessing because someone would make a straight face and you think they are telling the truth, but the next person may be doubtful when they have that face. Cases get longer and more complicated with lots of clues to sort through and I got frustrated thinking I had the guy then later found out that I failed a case because I didn’t accuse the right person or question them right.
Of course, there is shooting and it’s average. There is a cover mechanic which is a bit finicky but it works, and the guns are 40’s era weapons, but the shooting sections don’t come up often and I found this was fine. The driving in the game is just like GTA and pretty much works the exact same way. The cars are familiar with the era, but all pretty much drive the same. There is one side mission type and that’s fighting street crime. Sometimes a call over your radio will give info about a street crime and you can respond to it. There are 40 in all and they usually consist of on foot chases, car chases, or a shootout. These get repetitive as well after a while, but it’s there to make you feel like a true cop.
Overall L.A. Noire has amazing motion capture technology that’s revolutionary as well as superb storytelling and great characters. Investigating cases is fun and exciting, but the overall process grows tiresome after a while due to the same steps being taken over and over again. The shooting is average and the driving will get old after a while since there’s not much to do there. L.A. Noire is a must have for fans of Rockstar, crime fighting, or excellent single player games.