L.A. Noire is the latest game from Rockstar and Team Bondi. In a departure from recent Rockstar developed games, the player embodies a man on the right side of the law. Playing as Cole Phelps, a war veteran who has recently joined the LAPD, you are tasked with keeping the streets of 1947 LA safe.
From the moment you enter the world, you notice one major feature which is a big game changer to the industry. Using a new technology called “Motion Scan” that allows an actor’s face to be accurately recreated in-game; we are able to see every little grimace and facial inflection. This is particularly important during any interrogation sequences.
Watching the screen intensely to see if the person you are questioning is telling you the truth or feeding you lies. Doing good Police work will give you an edge in solving the case, but even if you are wrong, you still have many chances to get the right person. Of the 21 cases Cole has throughout the game, most start at a crime scene.
Gathering clues from crime scenes and interrogating people of interest are the two main parts of this game. Although they are incredibly fascinating, the game play can become monotonous after a while. With each case having an episodic feel to it, playing in small doses rather than steamrolling through it is probably how most gamers will enjoy this game to its full potential. With Rockstar’s great history with sandbox games, they try to break up Cole’s current case with street cases.
These street cases bring more traditional gaming action to the magnificently reproduced streets of LA. Hearing police dispatch calls over your car radio can open up these side missions – but only if your in a police Vehicle. Some involve Bank Robberies to chasing down lunatics. As well as pumping more action into the game that can stagnate, it allows the player to use the sandbox world and explore 1940s L.A.
The developers have also added more collectibles like finding all 30 Historical landmarks and finding 50 film reels. Adding these into the game does help to offer more dimension.
Only after a few cases I knew the main story would involve me entering a crime scene, searching for clues and questioning witnesses or suspects then rinse and repeat until the case was solved. Although in some cases, you may have more than one suspect and you can put the wrong person away, it can feel very scripted to the point that it may not matter what you got right and wrong in a case. This is further compounded when chasing down a suspect. Wielding my gun in a foot chase sequence is decided by the developers. If I have no gun out, I have to catch him on foot. Gun in hand; I can fire a warning shot. I wanted a suspect alive, so shot him in the leg – he died. This happened on more than one occasion and reminded me that I am playing a scripted part of a game.
L.A. Noire tries to pull you in with its story which is fed through cut-scenes from the past and collectible newspapers normally found within a crime scene. These newspapers help to flesh out the story and give the player a better understanding of the games overarching storyline. Regardless, I still felt that some of the main plot twists were hard to stomach as the story fails to explain reasons as to why main characters are acting as they are.
Despite these flaws, L.A. Noire is an intriguing new experience that thoroughly deserves its chance to be played. People who are looking for the next Grand Theft Auto will be sorely disappointed with its slow pace and lack of action. But given time, the slow boiling story of L.A. Noire can become a very fulfilling chapter in a new breed of video game.