L.A. Noire: Official Review
Developer: Team Bondi
Publisher: Rockstar Games
North American Release Date:17th May 2011
European Release Date: 20th May 2011
Trophies: 1 5 10 22
L.A Noire is finally here, and it's been a long time coming. In early 2004 Rockstar announced L.A Noire as a to be funded by Sony, thus making it a sony exclusive. Things went a little quiet, until it was re-announced in 2007, and set to be released in 2008. Again, delays hit it and the game was eventually released this year in May, on both the 360 and PS3. I may sound like i'm waffling on a little bit here, but this is just to get you an idea at how long the game has been in production. From 2004, until 2011, a whole 7 years. You'd expect a lot from 7 years really, and trust me, if you're expecting a lot you will not be disappointed.
First things first, this isn't a game like say grand theft auto, where you can simply jump out of a mission, kill a load of civilians, then get back into another mission with little to no long-term consequences. The game often limits what the player can currently do at times, this works well and stops the game from becoming stale in places. It's pretty much made up of investigating, interrogating, traveling and chasing. The whole game feels real so to say, and you'll feel obliged to act civilized just to fit in. Such as driving like an ideal citizen and walking around, the polar opposite of how i'd personally play GTA for the most part. The whole gameplay does feel very GTA/Rockstar but that's to be expected, what with it using the euphoria game engine used in the past two rockstar sandbox games. The car mechanics feel very 1940's so to say, if you were to imagine what it'd be like trying to drive at speed to catch a criminal/get to a crime scene quickly in that era, it'd feel like L.A Noire's driving. This is a recurring theme that I found throughout the game, in my imagination everything you see/play in L.A Noire is how it would be at that time.
With it being set in the 1940's, all investigation work is done by hand by yourself, and the investigating is incredibly fun. The average mission plans out as such, you'll be given a case, at which point you'll travel to the crime scene. From there you'll be searching for clues and interrogating people, both of which are vital to solving the crime. Your own initiative helps with the game aswell, despite being helped by the music in-game, you'll find yourself missing fairly key clues to the crime and possibly missing entire sections to the case. This isn't as in-depth as in one of the only comparable games in heavy rain, in which you can miss things and carry on your own path. In L.A Noire you're guided onto the correct path so to say, which creates a similar narrative for different users. The interrogations are my personal favorite though, they mainly start off with a quick greeting from cole, then from there it's your choice of what to do. You get a choice of questions scribbled down on your notepad, once the question is asked you listen to the suspect and watch their reactions, from there you have to decide if you believe them, doubt them or have evidence to prove they're lying. All of this is supported by the in-depth technology used to map an actors face onto the character, meaning you see every little movement in their face, which allows you to generally guess if they're truthful or not. It becomes a lot trickier than it sounds as the game goes on.
Then it comes to the action sequences, the game also prevails here. Cole was previously in the army, making him quite an athletic guy which is displayed in the chase scenes. You'll find the guy you're chasing getting to the top of buildings, back down again, sprinting across busy streets into alleyways, and everywhere you're chasing in feels very alive, there's a trophy named asphalt jungle that is related to the chase scenes, that name couldn't be more accurate for the game. Aswell as that, everything you're chasing around is heavily scripted, to avoid awkward encounters with bumping into civilians or getting simply mowed down by cars when sprinting across roads. But the scripting makes it feel like you're controlling a character in a film, trucks will just so happen to be reversing in the alley you're sprinting down, the guy you're chasing will run out into a road and cars will swerve using the handbrake to avoid them, making it a very dramatic, but pleasing experience.
The action sequences are wonderfully dramatic
Lets face it, the story is what we're here for, and it does not disappoint in the slightest. From the start you're dropped into what could be viewed as a tutorial stage, where you're just a simple policeman. You go through roughly four smaller cases here, each guides you through different aspects of the gameplay. For example, one mission you'll be in a shoot-up, in another you'll be chasing a criminal on foot, then in another you'll be looking for clues. This works well at guides the player into the game fairly easily. The only downside is that I found the action side of being a regular policeman really fun, and you only get a short time doing it. Ofcourse, the main feature of this game is the interrogating and clue finding, but still, a little more time with this more action packed part of the game wouldn't of done any harm. Rather than progressing through the police force in what seems like a very short amount of time.
After that you go through different desks in different departments, but the whole thing is fairly similar throughout the game, but weirdly enough this didn't seem like much of a big deal. Normally I'd be slating the game for being repetitive, but the game was so fun I didn't even feel this was a problem. You want to keep doing more of the same, as it's something different from the norm. I felt no problem with going through this lengthy story doing the same kind of things, as the story can be very gripping and addictive at times. When going through the section based on the real-life black dahlia murder, I had to go to work just before one of the last missions, and was left begging for more. Although you'll be doing the same kind of four or five things that I mentioned earlier, it variates it enough to keep you interested. It's just something about chasing a criminal that i've personally just found information on, through a living version of L.A that I absolutely adore
Being a regular policeman is great fun, just don't get too used to it
This is a rockstar game, and with rockstar games there generally seems to be a very high target set for each game, which inevitably brings the delays we've became accustomed to. In my eyes, rockstar are sandbox games. When you have an equation of rockstar + sandbox, it generally equals something along the likes of controversy, violence and city-scale destruction. This made me curious of how this game will pan out, afterall, rockstar aren't exactly known for their narratives and dialogue between characters, the main components of L.A Noire.
But the game is so beautifully well put together in literally every form. Graphically it is extremely pleasing to the eye, as their 1940's L.A has been fully recreated from photography from that era. Meaning that everything you see is exactly as it should be, and it has all been remastered perfectly. Personal highlights were the "Holywoodland" sign, the tar pits and the use of well recognized names such as Kellogs and Warner Bros. But it says it all that this beautiful, fully living retro city isn't the main highlight in the visual department, the true highlight is how alive each character is due to facial recognition technology, motion scan. As you can probably tell already, I'm a sucker for Rockstar and sandbox games in general, but even still I wasn't entirely sure until I watched a trailer on the motion scan technology, that itself convinced me that I needed to experience this. Due to the motion-scan technology, when interrogating people you get to truly see a character that is alive. You see every slight movement in the face of the person, meaning you can decide if you believe that the character is telling the truth. It is amazing how far accurate the technology is at placing an actors face within the game, and is a step in the right direction for the games industry
How can you match having characters that fully look alive, why, by having characters that sound alive. And that is what they've done here. Some serious time has gone into the dialogue in this game, and it makes it truly feel like you're part of a movie. There is over 20 hours of fantastic quality dialogue in this game, if that doesn't say something I don't know what does. Everything else regarded to this game is completely fluent, the main menu looks artistically great and is easy to navigate, and the control scheme fits in perfectly. The only real flaw I've had with the game, is a very rare case that's affected myself. That is that the game has been truly killing off my playstation. Before playing this game my playstation wasn't in the best of conditions, and it is fairly old. However, the game has been overheating my system, making the game unplayable unless I completely cool down my room. Again, this is a rare case, but Rockstar have currently made no signs of identifying the true reason behind what's happening. It could be the fact that this game is currently pushing old consoles to their limit, it could be a problem with the game, right now no-one is certain.
A great trophy list to match a great game, there is nothing ridiculously difficult but there's enough to keep you going. The trophy list makes you play every last inch out of the game, but there doesn't appear to be anything too tedious.
A great change in pace compared to other games on the market right now, this beautiful, easy to navigate thrilling game will keep you coming back for more. But the slow pace might not be for everyone
Easy to navigate and it feels very realistic, and very 1940's
Fantastic gripping story, could do with a little more variation but it's no big deal
This would be a 10, but when there's something within the game that could be breaking peoples systems and rockstar haven't currently identified the problem, one has to worry a little