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L.A Noire Review

July 28, 2011

Let me begin by saying L.A Noire is a very different experience from what everyone’s used to when it comes to games that are similar to the Grand Theft Auto series. This game doesn’t only enter unvisited territory but also does a good job at it. From shoot outs, to playing private eye or chasing people on foot and on wheels. L.A Noire has a lot going for it but is it enough for the people who aren’t used to this flavour of tea? One thing we can be sure is naked women, size 8 shoes and a hell of a lot morphine will be found in this adventure.

The game’s story is basically split into 3 to 4 stories which all conclude to the final boiling point on each desk. You  play as Cole Phelps, a war hero who has earned the Silver Star and returned home. As you progress through the game cases you will see vital flashbacks to what happened during the whole time Phelps was in the war, yet these flashbacks also tie into the story of certain cases you’re playing. There are 5 desks you will need to progress from starting at Patrol, Traffic, Homicide, Vice and then finally Arson. Each desks has different types of cases but most enjoyable for was the Homicide desk. The story was really interesting and very mind puzzling.

Let me get the negative’s out of the way and there is quite a few I would like to talk about.

The world of L.A Noire is set in the 1940’s in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is recreated from top to bottom, so the player can experience how life in the 1940’s was really lived. From Music, attires, vehicles, weapons and to the way characters communicate and speak. The world is filled with interior buildings to explore and it’s very rich in detail, although activity wise there’s nothing to actually do while free roaming. L.A Noire comes with 40 optional street crimes to complete yet each one takes 2-3 minutes, which is quite disappointing. Every crime scene has no challenge at all and seems like the developers were just forced to insert something ‘optional’ in the game because this game lacks a lot of optional (extra) things to do. After completing the game you’re free to revisit free roam mode but if you’ve collected all the film reels, newspapers which are all collected as you progress through the story, and done all 40 street crimes, then you will have nothing else to do in L.A Noire. Free roam gets boring and fast since you cannot shoot or wreck havoc and this makes free roam pointless. Other optional tasks such as driving every vehicle and finding all the famous L.A locations seem nothing but a chore. It’s just like finding collectibles but the only thing that differs is what the collectible are.

Also a few glitches occurred as I progressed through the game. One that didn’t allow me to continue through a case until I got caught. I was meant to tail a suspect on foot without letting them see me, but then the suspect stopped moving forward and I found myself just watching the suspect look left and right as if she was a child just beginning to learn how to cross the road. Once I got bored of the suspect being stubborn and not learning how to cross I got out of  Solid Snake’ s OctoCamo suit and the suspect instantly saw me. After restarting well let’s just say the suspect learnt how to cross the road this time round, phew. Another rather annoying feature was tight corridors. If your partner is behind you, you will have to fight your way back because your partner won’t budge unless you can teleport but I don’t think teleportation was invented yet in the 1940’s.

Phelps is enjoying the new design

Also after doing 10 hours of cases, the game begins to become repetitive, why? Maybe because you keep doing the same thing. You go over to a crime scene, find clues, note them down in your notebook, one of the clues would be another location which you would then need to visit and so on. Every case only differs in location, clues and suspects. You either end up chasing them and trust me every suspect just begins running and you would start to think to yourself after being promoted toVice wouldn’t Phelps learn that suspects won’t listen and just run each time? Every case differs in how you would deal with a suspect yet there isn’t much variety. You would either chase them by car or foot, or you would have to infiltrate their base of operation with a classic shoot out. Then after the dust has settled you would go over the clues you have found and interrogate the suspect before charging them with the arrest. After the case is closed a new one will begin and guess what? You will have to do all the above again.

Moving on to the good stuff, MotionScan. This technology allows the player to experience facial animation like never seen before and I have to admit, it’s really top notch. During interrogation after a witness or suspect answers a question, just by looking at them you could tell by their facial expression if they’re lieing or telling the truth. This is where L.A Noire shines and it’s one of my favourite features in the game because I haven’t experienced anything like it. Also this feature brings cinematic experience to video gaming that much closer, and each character animation has been acted out by a real actor to capture each glimpse and each hard gulp.


During an interrogation you will have your notebook and the list of questions you will be able to ask. Once the witness or suspect answers a question you have 3 options to select from, lie, doubt and truth. Once you’ve selected an option Phelps would either tick or cross the question you’ve asked depending on if you’ve selected the right choice. Although if you select lie then you will have to select from the list of clues you’ve found to prove that the suspect isn’t telling the truth. Get a question right and the suspect will open up allowing you to jot down more clues but get it wrong and no new clues for Phelps notebook. Although getting a question wrong will not end the game,  but will allow you to less understand the suspect’s motives and the story won’t be as clear.

Searching for clues I found is the most entertaining aspect of this game. You will enter a location and as you walk around your controller will vibrate allowing you to inspect that section more closer. Also each clue is very rich in detail from the text to the dripping blood.Once a new and relevant clue is found Phelps will jot it down in his notebook to be referred to later on in the case.

And we have a wise guy.

As you progress through the game, you will start to rack up points depending on how many questions you answered right or how many clues you found by the end of a case. This will allow you to rank up and sometimes you will unlock a new outfit or a new intuition point. An intuition point allows you while interrogating a person to either erase a wrong answer or if you have a social club account to ask the community which is the right answer. Basically like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’s ask the crowd and 50/50.

Not only is the voice acting outstanding but so are the performance of the actors. This will allow you to immerse yourself more into the story and the music is very 1940’s making you feel that you’re currently living during that time.

L.A Noire succeeds in many areas but also has flaws. You either love it or hate it but L.A Noire succeeds in being a different type of game than what we’re used to. Although the game does have a slow paced story and gets repetitive but the game is enjoyable and it was entertaining. You can complete everything in the game in just over 20 hours. Free roam you cannot do much in which is a shame really because L.A Noire contains a very large free roam world for you to explore yet there is absolutely nothing to do in it. If you love action games with mix of noire, then you only have one choice but to check this baby out.