First Person Adventure: Rockstar Games, L. A. Noire game review

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Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Team Bondi

Rating: 18

Release date: PS3, Xbox 360 - Out Now, PC - TBA

Review Author: David Holmes


Storyline

Set in 1947 Los Angeles, L.A. Noire follows the story of Cole Phelps, an up and coming member of the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.). Cole begins life as a uniformed officer looking to work his way through the ranks of the LAPD from traffic, through a stint in homicide and eventually into vice.
It is Cole's job to clean up the streets of L.A., by investigating crime scenes, gathering evidence, questioning eye witnesses to shoot outs, car chases and interrogating potential suspects.
L.A. Noire is a fine example of how a story should be told within a video game. Thousands of lines of dialogue are accompanied by beautifully crafted cut scenes and probably the best voice acting seen in a game to date.

lanoire_screenshot

Playability

Being a Rockstar game you would be forgiven for thinking this was just another Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption, however this is far from the truth. Yes the city of LA is huge and you are free to explore at your leisure, but apart from the 40 side missions there isn't a lot to do outside of the main story. As a police Detective you cannot go on killing sprees or joy rides á la GTA. In fact your gun can only be fired in certain pre-determined situations.
In terms of the controls L.A Noire is very similar to Grand Theft Auto, althoughmoving Cole around a crime scene can feel clunky at times but this isn't reallybad enough to ruin the experience. The same goes for the gunplay and hand to hand combat, it feels pretty basic but does the job well. Driving the 90+ vehicles in the game, however, feels great, with each vehicleoffering its own characteristics and handling.
The vastmajority of the game is spent interrogating suspects and this is presented with a three option dialogue system: Truth, Doubt and Lie. It is up to Cole to choose which based on the reaction of the interviewee. Choose wisely thoughas any wrong decisions can lead to a suspect withholding important information to help solve the case.

Presentation

This is where L.A. Noire really shines. The city of L.A has been crafted with incredible attention to detail. The buildings, cars and residents of L.A. really add to the atmosphere of the game. The main selling point behind the game is the use of "MotionScan" and this new technology has allowed Team Bondi to accurately recreate facial movements from real life actors. It is these facial movements that help you with your investigations, from slight eye movement to minor twitches, all the clues are there for you to decide who is the guilty party. Without MotionScan I don't think this game would have been possible, it really is that amazing and all of this would have been pointless if the voice acting was subpar; thankfully it isn't. In fact I cannot think of a game with better voice acting then this.

Best Points

As mentioned before, the best part of L.A. Noire has to be the voice acting and facial animations. Along with great storytelling and cut scenes these elements add up to truly engrossing and unique experience presented in a beautifully recreated and the huge arena that is L.A.. Gun fights, car and foot chases through the streets of L.A. are also another high point of the game.

Worst Points

L.A. Noire has an incredible story that has been brilliantly told, but my only gripe is that the story isn't affected by a players performance within each mission. No matter how badly you do, each case finishes the in the same way and Cole's progression though the L.A.P.D. is unchanged meaning there is only one ending to the game. At times this can make L.A. Noire a bit repetitive, with crime scene investigation becoming mundane with all it really amounting to is walking around waiting for the controller to vibrate indicating the close proximity of a clue.

Overall Score

4/5 - If you are looking for a Grand Theft Auto style experience, then maybe L.A. Noire isn‘t for you. However, if you are looking for a unique story driven adventure then look no further. L.A. Noire offers many twists and turns along the way, add this to the incredible atmosphere of 1940's L.A. and you actually start to feel like a real detective ....thinking of which I reckon it's about time for coffe and doughnuts!