Thursday, May 26, 2011

Game Review: L.A Noire

Blogger's note: minor spoilers for the game.

 L.A Noire is one of the few games that I was genuinely excited about, enough to pre-order and get on opening day. I have a certain fondness for 1920’s style gameplay, and with Rockstar behind it this game has to be awesome, right?

Well, despite my enthusiasm L.A Noire tried very hard to make sure I didn’t like it, at least for the first half. Ex-war hero Cole Phelps joins the LAPD and moves fast up the ranks with a perfect moral compass. And, as we all know perfect characters are boring characters. I wouldn’t call this game actually boring, (not at all), but the word ‘tedious’ springs to mind rather quickly. Each murder involves a similar formula 1) Investigate the scene for clues 2) interrogate a suspect 3) go into a thrilling chase scene or firefight. For me personally the most annoying part is the homicide division. If these cases were different things might be interesting. Instead a serial killer is on the loose, and repeats the same crime no less than five times, and it gets repetitive fast. Fortunately this can be broken up by ‘street crimes’ which are very short crimes, but I do seriously recommend your partner drives you to, as it can take forever to drive from one area of the city to another.

Luckily Cole is not perfect, and without giving too much away makes an illegal choice half-way. Unfortunately, this kind of bugs me, because we aren’t given too many cutscenes to establish Cole’s reasoning behind this (unless I accidently skipped a whole bunch), or any character development afterwards. Instead, we pretty much give up on Cole and focus on another character, Jack, for the last quarter of the game. Thankfully the crimes are also different as the game progresses.

Gameplay-wise, I would advise against having the mentality of Grand Theft Auto for this game. In other words, you try to run over every single thing in the game, it will: A) affect your final score in the case and B) will be really annoying because your partner will scream at you every few seconds for doing so. 

The biggest selling point of L.A Noire is the facial graphics during interrogations, and it’s up to the player to tell if a person is telling the truth or lying. Which, believe it or not, is far harder than it seems. This is mostly due to the fact that there are three options: A) Truth B) Doubt C) Lie. And sometimes doubt and lie can be really difficult to tell apart. Still, I did find it enjoyable, but I seriously doubt anyone will get it right the first time around.

Overall there isn’t much to do in the city itself, but there is a detailed environment to explore. And the voice acting is actually perfect for every character. I’ve heard complaints that the ending well, frankly sucks. I wasn’t bothered by it, although for the life of me I have no idea why the damsel in distress was kidnapped when she was.

FINAL GRADE: 3 ½ out of 5. I like L.A Noire, and there are other reviewers out there who do rave about it. However, I think L.A Noire has the potential to be better and more exciting. There is talk of a sequel, so this is a good enough starting off point. The casual player might find it fun but repetitive at times.

Am I the only one who had to get a dictionary to figure out what 'Noire' meant?

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