GAME NAME: L.A. Noire
DEVELOPER(S): Team Bondai, Rockstar Games, Rockstar Leeds
PUBLISHER(S): Rockstar Games
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
GENRE(S): Open World, Third-Person Shooter, Action-Adventure
RELEASE DATE(S): May 17, 2011
“LAPD Ma’am, I’m commandeering this vehicle in the name of the law” is what you’ll be saying in the new Rockstar title LA Noire. Unlike its predecessors in the Grand Theft Auto series, players are put in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a newly-minted officer looking to work his way up the ranks and embark on a journey to find truth in a city that’s full of deceit. Take the latter, throw it all in a time setting of 1940’s Los Angeles and add a stylistic approach of Noir Films, and gamers will find themselves lost in a game that feels like the movies.
LA Noire has the same feel that the Grand Theft Auto Series has in terms of controls so gamers won’t be in total shock playing it. There are, however, quite a few new approaches to how you play the game and quite intuitive controls over how players interact with objects in the world. This isn’t your typical third-person open world action adventure shooter. First off, and quite a few people skip over this, is that players can experience that authentic film noir feel and remove color from the game automatically by hitting Start, Options, Display, Black & White on or off. The game is actually quite beautiful this way; it adds a different dimension to the stories. I played through the entire game in black and white. At first it’s weird, but you get used to it and after you do, it feels authentic.
The graphics overall were pretty clean and crisp and looked great for a game of this genre. The voice acting was amazing, and also the facial animations were top notch. Team Bondi used MotionScan technology which is a facial-capture system, and every actor’s expression was caught in detail which gave a real humanistic feel to the characters in the game. Rockstar Games used top real actors for this game some of which gamers should recognize Aaron Staton from Mad Men, who plays the lead character Cole Phelps, is one to name. With the technology and top acting, you’ll find yourself in the midst of interesting stories and plot twists and tons of action.
Overall, the game works by assigning cases to you based on your rank. Each case you solve gets you experience points that go towards leveling up your rank. This allows you to get promotions and unlock new clothes, hidden car locations and intuition points (which can be spent to reveal clues and narrow choices when interrogating suspects). Each case that you are assigned has to be investigated to be solved. During the investigation, players will go over and search the crime scene, look for clues, and interview eyewitnesses. Near the end when you gather enough clues and evidence, and if you have a suspect in custody then you can interrogate them to get a confession. This is a very unique aspect of the game that’s pretty amazing, fun and extremely challenging. This is not a button mashing Grand Theft Auto Game.
While the game is really engaging, there are a few moments that feel like gamers are doing real police work –it gets monotonous and unsurprising. Some cases can take an hour or more to complete, which makes players feel that they get a bang for their buck; it’s just a little tiring due to the repetitive yet familiar drama of cases.
One of the most important items to players throughout the game is their notebook. Information is automatically entered into players’ notebooks but it’s detrimental to keep checking it. Inside you’ll find case objectives, persons of interest (P.O.I.), new clues, and new locations. When players first encounter a new person and identify them, they go right in your notebook and that info. will hold key information and characteristics for reference throughout the case. Clues will be stored in there as you find them throughout crime scenes, and you’ll need those for the next part I’m about to describe which is interrogations. The beauty and unique aspect of this game is that you can interrogate your witnesses and use clues against them to either prove their innocence or incriminate them.
When players interrogate people, their handy notebook pops up and this is where the magic happens. It’s up to the gamer to decide if a persons facial expressions, mannerisms and tone reflect that of a lie, doubt or the honest truth. Players shouldn’t rush through their questioning because everyone reacts differently; during questioning, players can look up to see how their suspect is acting and judge them based on their reactions. My experience was when in doubt, press doubt! Unless you think they are lying and have some hard evidence to prove it. That helped a majority of the time and proved to be successful, just be sure to examine all your clues. This aspect of the game can be tiring as well but the positive part is that you can use your intuition points to help guess the correct judgment.
Overall, LA Noire looks amazing, has great animation, voice acting and storylines; the noir film feel adds icing to the cake. There are a lot of dynamics in this open world action thriller game and because of that, it holds high replay value. If you can push through the occasional monotonous case and police grunt work at the beginning, you’ll find yourself enjoying a game that feels like a movie and be on the edge of your seat. I think that LA Noire is a title definitely worth picking up.