Hey guy's this is Salvador. This is an old review I did for a game store I used to help out at and would just care for some feedback. I may start doing this just for kicks so any feedback would be useful. Thanks in advance!
P.S. I apologize in advance for the formatting. I pretty much just copy and pasted the HTML code cause that's a whole lot easier.
As I opened the door to my apartment, something told me that this was going to be different. I couldn't tell you how or what exactly, but it's just that sixth sense that you get when you're as experienced as I am.
Been doing this since that plumber needed help rescuing some dame back in the 80's. I've seen mortals bring down the gods, grand theft autos, heaven brought down by a snake, men take leaps of faith, and have had my share of bad company with the mafia too.
All I knew was that I had to know what made this different. To know if this was the real deal, good or bad, or if it was just another copycat wanting some of the spotlight. This wasn't for some trophy or sense of achievement anymore. This was the type of thing that makes you or breaks you, and I was about to find out firsthand...
L.A. Noire is quite a unique beast. Everyone looks a the Rockstar symbol and just expects another Grand Theft Auto style game.
That is not the case at all.
This game is about the story and making you play through it. There's no property to buy, mini-games to play, and there is hardly any collectibles to speak of, but the lack of this extra fluff brings L.A. Noire's story to the fore and rightfully so.
You play as Cole Phelps, a war hero who joined the L.A.P.D., starting off as a beat cop patrolling the streets of L.A. and soon climbing the ranks to detective. Through your career as a detective, what starts off as seemingly stand alone cases, end up becoming a rather interesting story of redemption, betrayal, and conspiracy and Cole's resolve is put to the test multiple times.
|Cole Phelps. Your protagonist.|
The game is split into desks and each desk split up into multiple cases. There are five desks: patrol, traffic, homicide, vice, and arson which are split up into 21 cases. Some cases can be as short as forty-five minutes while the longer cases can span multiple hours. These cases of course are the heart and soul of L.A. Noire.
L.A. Noire's cases play out like an episode of C.S.I. or Law and Order and like both of those shows, its strengths lie in figuring out the who, why, and how's and not just some random shootout or chase.
Also, like both shows, this game is definitely earned its Mature rating. Rape, murder, fraud, drugs, conspiracy, and even instances of pedophilia litter this game. This is stuff no child should ever be exposed to and some subjects that even adults will have a hard time digesting. If you have a hard time making it through an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, this game may not be for you.
|The cases are based on actual cases and crimes that happened during the time period.|
The gameplay consists of investigation, interrogation, chases, and gunplay. Weirdly enough the two we are most used to, gunplay and chases, are probably the weakest parts of the game while the investigation and interrogations completely outshine anything else in the game.
Investigations usually involve going to the crime scene and gathering clues and talking to any witnesses. Some background music plays while you search for the clues and a special tone and controller vibration let you know when you are close to an object of interest. For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, those assists can be turned off to allow your innate detective skills to shine.
|A crime scene from early on in the game.|
Easily the best part of the game though is actually talking to people. Why? Because you actually have to read their face during questioning.
See, using the amazing MotionScan technology, interrogations and general interactions with NPC's are like talking to a real person. They mapped actors faces using MotionScan and placed them right into the game.
|MotionScan in all its glory.|
So every little wrinkle, blink, gulp, and smirk is a real persons face. As you begin to interrogate people, you will actually begin to recognize people's ticks during the interview and can start to tell if they are hiding something from you or if they are genuinely telling the truth.
|Except this guy. Politicians could learn a thing or two from the way this guy lies.|
|Also, without MotionScan, everyone would look like this.|
Of course, if you are interrogating people and accuse them of lying to your questioning you have to back it up with proof. That's where the clues you pick up from the crime scene and witnesses come into play. It is all recorded in your police handbook which you can reference at any time during an interrogation.
|How much you wanna bet that replicas will be sold by Rockstar?|
It has persons of interests, clues, and even locations that you can set that will show up on your mini map making it easier to navigate to. You can also force your partner to drive if you have the location set from your notebook and you can avoid all the crazy drivers and pedestrians that litter the roads. This is great since the more damage you cause while driving the more it can affect your end case rating.
Let's go back to the clues and interrogations though. See, not all of the clues you find will be useful. Sometimes you'll be given filler stuff that has nothing to do with the suspect at hand or sometimes you'll find stuff that will point you in two completely different directions. It is then up to you to figure out what to do and where to go.
And if you get the questioning wrong, you still will finish the interview, but other clues and leads you might have gotten from getting the questions right could make the case that much harder for you and will severely impact your overall case ranking. Take it from me, completely botching a case and getting the lowest rating sucks. HARD.
First off, chases. Chases usually end up with the suspect cornering themselves or you incapacitating their vehicle for an arrest. What really sucks is that you learn to apprehend a suspect by shooting off a warning shot, but nine times out of ten you can't pull out your gun to do this so you are forced to chase them. WHY HAVE IT IF I CAN'T USE IT?!?!
And like previously stated, damaged caused to the city, vehicles, and pedestrians during a vehicle chase will affect you end case rating. And a fleeing suspect driving through back alleys, sidewalks, and in peoples backyards really makes it hard NOT to cause damage to anything.
Hence why it is pretty fun chasing a suspect on foot or being in a high speed chase the first time, but after a while you know how it will end.
Next, gunplay. It is a third person, cover based system that is cumbersome at best. There isn't too much gun variety, the auto aim pretty much places the cursor on the enemy for you (and you can't turn it off), and the cover system is so difficult to get into and out of I almost didn't bother with it.
|Though a shotgun is still super fun and ridiculously accurate even at long range.|
And there are a few sections where you have to climb buildings and over fences. For the most part it works but after playing games like Assassin's Creed it doesn't feel as fluid as it used to be. And there were the couple of times Cole took climb over railing as jump to your death forcing me to restart at the last checkpoint. It wasn't anything major but just something they kind of bugged me.
Lastly, I wish there was a control configuration option. The controls for driving were mapped to buttons I wasn't used to and I wish I could have changed it to something I was more comfortable with. A minor gripe, but one nonetheless.
L.A. Noire is not for everyone. Those expecting the parody stylings and sandbox style of play of the Grand Theft Auto games will be sorely disappointed. If you are looking for a game full of sweet car chases and epic gunfights, once again you will be disappointed.
The gunplay is mediocre, chases are repetitious and suck, and even though you have 8 square miles of L.A. to explore with a bit of collectibles to find, the city feels rather empty with no real reason to explore it.
And yet with all these faults I couldn't put the controller down. I had to know what the next case involved. I had to know who did it and why. Is that person lying to me? Did I find the right clue? And why does this case have a similar M O to the other ones even though they are in no way related?
|Plus, the game has a great jazz soundtrack to it and no, I'm not talking about Kenny G.|
L.A. Noire's story is it's strong point and with the inclusion of the MotionScan characters it feels as if you are part of a big budget film instead of a video game. Maybe that's why L.A. Noire was the first game to be invited to the Tribeca film festival?
So give it a shot, you might end up liking it. If you don't like it you can always "commandeer" a vehicle and attempt to rack up $47,000 worth of penalties in a case. Apparently you'll get one of those achievements for it.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
A great game. There are a few flaws that keep it from being perfect but it it is definitely a title you should play.
The PS3 version of the game was used for this review. Played through to 78.1% completion over 20hrs, 4min, and 44sec according to the Rockstar Social Club page. Also, I managed to run over my partner once.