L.A. Noire – A Review by Film Nerd

Console: X-Box 360, PS3

Publisher: Rocksteady Games, Team Bondi

Players: 1

Synopsis:   You take on the role of Cole Phelps, a decorated WWII veteran, whom is climbing up the ranks in the L.A.P.D in the late 1940s.   As Phelps, you have a number of cases to solve in a number of departments in the police force.   You must interview suspect, determine when they are lying or telling the truth, as well as investigate crime scenes for clues.   Meanwhile, you can drive around the period setting streets of Los Angeles at your leisure, with a number of different achievements giving you the chance to really explore the digital world that has been created.

This is personally my first video game review, being inspired by the earlier effort from SchmandaRose.   It is fitting, therefore, that the game I choose to review a game that has many filmic qualities, right down to a title that conjures images of classic film noir.   In many ways, the rest of the game also channels this type of story, while being modern enough to have an appeal for a variety of gamers.

I enjoy video games, though by no means would I say I am an expert gamer.   Prior to this only twice before have I unlocked all achievements on an X-Box game, and once before on a PS3 game.   Ironically, the one on PS3 was Heavy Rain, which also plays very much like an interactive film.   I also cheat saying I have unlocked all achievements twice on 360, given that one of those is Dead Rising, and the other was a short prequel for Dead Rising 2, called Case 0.   L.A. Noire has kept me enthralled enough, that I only have one achievement left to unlock…. and given that achievement requires me to go wild and damage everything in sight, I have no doubt I will unlock that one some time tomorrow.

Focusing on this game, it has a fascinating gameplay, with cases that remain interesting throughout.   Apart from the training missions, there are four main case desks to play; Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson.   The cases themselves are very interesting, and for a keen eye they are often connected.   A serial killer storyline ties together almost every case on the homicide desk, and yet even when this desk is completed, there are repercussions for later in the game.   In this sense, the game maintains its filmic quality, and hence maintains for me that type of level of entertainment.

As I mentioned before, the game I would most closely relate this to is Heavy Rain.   In some respects, the graphics quality I found better in the latter, though this is only a face-value assessment.   A lot more effort has gone into developing facial expression in this game, and though the graphics may not be as succinct as on Heavy Rain, the characters are none-the-less more lifelike.    This is vital to gameplay itself, as reading facial expression has a big role to play in the game, when trying to accurately direct a line of questioning in witness and suspect interviews.    It should be noted on this criticism however that I played this game on 360, and I have been informed that the frame rate and graphics quality is much better on the PS3, the native console for Heavy Rain.   Continuing on the graphics theme, period L.A. looks absolutely amazing.   One of the achievements is to locate a number of L.A. landmarks, all beautifully rendered here for the gamers exploration of the city.

I will admit, I did go online to help with a number of achievements.    This is because that a few of these achievements require locating very small items on the map, and one could spend weeks exploring every inch of the city to finally complete every task.    I rarely have that amount of time available, so yes I did cheat.   How to unlock all achievements I leave to the individual, but even going online you still get a good appreciation of the scale and detail with which the city has been recreated.   Purely breathtaking.

All-in-all, a great game, and it deserves all the hype that led up to its release.

4.5 stars out of 5


L.A. Noire trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LfZq_OdU80]

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