Consoles: Xbox, PS3,
NA: May 17, 2011
JP: July 7, 2011
EU: May 20, 2011
PC Release Date:
NA: November 8, 2011
EU: November 11, 2011
Genre: Sandbox, third-person shooter, action adventure.
Rating: ESRB M/PEGI 18
L.A. Noire: Rockstars’ newest sandbox game, released in 2011. I heard about this game when I used to work at GameStop. I was at work and the commercial promo came on GameStop TV and they basically explained how the game was played. The graphics being actually a huge part of the concept, the free-roam style, and the mixed third-person shooter gameplay excited me so much. I reserved it 5 minutes later after seeing that promo, and I purchased the game on day 1. Catching serial killers, rapists, arsonists and beating up baddies while cruising through Los Angeles? Sounds like a fun time to me. So was I disappointed, or was I satisfied with Rockstars’ newest game? Well, let us find out.
A bit of history: Rockstar is known for some of our greatest heavy hitting legends from the Playstation 1 to Playstation 2. They are responsible for the Grand Theft Auto series, Max Payne, The Warriors, the Midnight Club series, and the list goes on. Rockstar is also one of the few developing game companies that received several 10 out of 10 review scores on famous sites like IGN and Gamespot for their blockbusting hit, Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008. Rockstar is also known for their controversial, should I say, moments in gaming. There was Grand Theft Auto’s sexual content, Max Payne’s dark and gloomy story, to Bully’s role of playing as…well, a bully. However, despite the content they deliver, Rockstar is still known as one of the most successful developers of all time.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Cole Phelps.
Story: L.A. Noire takes place directly after World War II and puts you right into the after effect. The story begins with Cole Phelps, a surviving WWII veteran who is haunted by his devastating past. A few years later Cole becomes a police officer who is promoted to a detective later on in the story. As you complete missions along the game Cole will proceed through rankings in the police department. From a uniformed patrolman on the streets, to an arson investigator he will find himself solving the most intense crimes in Los Angeles. During the story Cole will receive different partners who help him both as a detective and a person as he moves up in desks through the L.A.P.D.
Gameplay: L.A. Noire takes a combination of a third-person shooter, a free roam sandbox and mixes it with a mystery solving spin. Look at this game as CSI and Grand Theft Auto making a baby and poof, out comes L.A. Noire. So the controls are simple: your everyday gamer control scheme for cars nowadays, the hand to hand combat when needed and intense chase scenes that cause a few acrobatic game skills. Now going back to the controls for the cars, it’s sloppy, period. I found myself frustrated even turning a damn corner with these car controls. It felt like any type of car that had a little bit more speed than most was absolutely useless. Catching up with the criminal may be nice and all, but God forbid they turn a corner and you need to follow them; you’re screwed from there.
The shooting felt mediocre to me. I couldn’t stand the sensitivity; it felt slow and predictable. I know when this level starts I’m going to have to sprint, shoot, then cover, then shoot and by that time I’m falling asleep with how boring it has become. I know this sounds just like any other game with shooting elements, but this game didn’t add any type of cinematic gameplay to intensify the shooting until the third disk (If you have Xbox) or at least the last 5 hours of the game (if you have PS3). However, the investigation sequences of the game are not too bad. This was something I was actually pleased with. Looking through suspects’ homes searching for small pieces of evidence was a bit of a challenge but I enjoyed it. When you enter these missions to investigate, you have to find a specific amount of evidence to approach the suspect and interrogate him. It’s kinda interesting because if you start to interrogate someone without enough evidence you can mess up the entire case just because you didn’t find that small piece of rubber or didn’t observe that tiny photo that would explain a lot about the investigation.
Rent-a-cop to the rescue!
Now the interrogation sections of this game are where I drew the line. This has to be one of the coolest ideas that failed miserably. L.A. Noire uses realistic facial reactions for the player to accuse a suspect of any relation to the crime he is trying to solve. It works like this. You select a topic from the notebook based on the evidence you have collected. You listen to Cole ask the question and gauge the reaction and answer the suspect will give you. You are then given the choices of Truth, Doubt, or Lie. Truth will give Cole a more considerate reaction of how he believes the person. Doubt will not directly accuse them but will give Cole a suspicious, assumption of the suspects answer. And last but not least Lie. Lie will completely accuse the person depending on what evidence you have to prove them wrong. This system doesn’t work at all. It sounds great on paper, but L.A. Noire fails at this big time. I will explain why in the graphics section. You will understand why.
OHHHH?! SAY WHAT! SAY WHAT AGAIN! AGAIN!
Audio: The voice acting is brilliant. It’s great to see games like this take so much time to give the player a realistic feel of engaging conversation. Stuttering, coughing in the middle of conversation, and even pausing to lowing their voices a few times in dialog is amazing to me personally. The 40s’/50s’ music is pretty nice to cruise around and listen to in the car as well. Apparently original 1940s’ style song were composed by The Real Tuesday Weld and sung by Caludia Brücken, a German singer who founded an independent record label with Paul Humphreys.
The motion capture is just incredible for this game.
Graphics: Alright here we are to explain the why L.A. Noire fails at their biggest crowd attraction; the interrogations. The game promoted itself as something inventive and new. Using 32 motion cameras on the voice actor’s face to capture the smallest detail from a blink, to even the detail of a twitch on a character’s lip is pretty awesome. It looks amazing to see the realistic facial reactions and movement of the characters. However, it can be viewed as a little awkward at times, because the character body models aren’t the best but here they are with extremely detailed faces. The game’s interrogation is based on facial reaction, actually using your real instinct on how human nature is. When people lie they tend to avoid eye contact and stutter correct? Well apparently L.A. Noire disagrees. When a woman looks away and acts like she knows nothing in the snobbiest tone and you accuse her of lying or at least doubt her she’s actually telling the truth. I found myself screaming at my television, “What?! What do you mean she’s telling the truth?! She’s stuttering like a broken down car!” I am the type of person who likes to perfect my levels if I’m capable of doing it, so knowing that one question I messed up earlier in the mission will bother me and at times the turn out of the investigation will change depending on the percentage of correct accusations are made. I wont lie, overall the game looks great. Solid environment detail, awesome character reactions, and a revolutionary way of using motion capture is excellent. There are a few graphic rendering issues here and there but nothing too major.
Second Playthrough/Multiplayer: After finishing the game there really isn’t much to do. As I said before if you are a perfectionist and you wish to go back and replay the missions for 5 star ratings and make sure you get the perfect assumptions for the interrogations then be my guest, but honestly it doesn’t even seem worth it. No multiplayer unfortunately, but on the bright side there are 5 DLC missions so far for the different desks. If you are interested in picking the game up now there is now an L.A. Noire Complete edition which includes all 5 DLC missions, weapons, outfits, and the Badge Pursuit Challenge running at about $29.99 at most stores.
Hardcore Gamer: I think the hardcore gamer will find this game to be redundant in so many ways. Gain access to the case, interrogate a few suspects, chase this person down and then accuse them of doing the crime to see if you’re correct, repeat is all you are going to be doing the first 5-8 missions. The hardcore gamer will love it at first, but slowly over time after they will begin to notice they’re repeating the same actions with different dialog and surroundings. It’s a predictable game and really doesn’t start to change until the last few hours of the game.
Casual Gamer: I’m not too sure about this. The casual gamer may find this game to be repetitive, slow and outright boring. Most casual gamers like to see a game with intense action at all times and keeps them on their toes. They don’t really care too much about story, and the small intricate aspects of the game and L.A. Noire is based around a more calm gameplay as well as an interactive plot.