LA Noire is a truly original game; I’ve never played a title like it and I don’t think I will again any time soon – It does have some flaws though.
The first thing gamers need to know about LA Noire is the fact that it’s not Grand Theft Auto. If you go into this game expecting a 1940’s version of everyone’s favorite open world criminal simulation, you will be extremely disappointed.
In LA Noire, you play as an upstanding police officer and not a criminal. Cole Phelps, played by Mad Men’s Aaron Staten, does everything by the book and frowns upon those who don’t. He likes to complain frequently about his partner drinking on the job. You can’t run pedestrians over (according to Kotaku it is possible, just extremely difficult), you can’t take your gun out whenever you want and you can’t reap havoc on the streets of Los Angeles (unless you want a terrible case review). You’re a police officer with high moral values and it makes sense that you’re forced to play the game like this. Although there are points in the game where Phelps is such a by-the-book cop that he starts to get annoying.
LA Noire does a reasonably good job of mixing its various gameplay styles, third person shooting, driving, platforming and adventure-like investigation elements, but the experience never feels completely cohesive.
LA Noire’s investigation portion works very well, but is sometimes very frustrating. It’s often difficult to tell what items you’re able to pick up while at a crime scene and occasionally the game’s puzzles get ridiculously difficult. A few times I couldn’t figure out what to do next. Thankfully, the game’s intuition point’s hint system is always there to lend a helping hand.
The platform chasing aspects of LA Noire work well and so does the game’s shooting mechanics. My main issue with shooting is the fact that like almost all of Rockstar’s games, LA Noire relies heavily on auto aim during the third person shooting aspects of the game. I was hoping Team Bondi had somehow avoided this Rockstar staple. You can turn auto aim off but I found that it made the game a little too difficult to progress through (I couldn’t play with auto aim turned off in Red Dead Redemption either).
Driving around Team Bondi’s meticulously crafted LA is fun but it gets boring pretty quickly. The game’s cars handle decently and the inclusion of actual 1940’s era vehicles is a welcome addition and adds to the game’s realism factor.
The problem with LA Noire’s city is the exact same issue I had with Mafia II – there just really isn’t anything to do in it. I expected more side missions and the ability to enter stores/bars and play some sort of mini games. I know this isn’t Grand Theft Auto and I also know that the game is more about the story than anything else; the open world back drop is only there to provide background to the game’s story. Still, including more activities and side missions would have been a welcome addition to LA Noire. Team Bondi’s LA is so meticulously crafted, it’s a shame there isn’t more to do in it.
Graphically LA Noire looks great, character models are extremely detailed as is the finely crafted city of Los Angeles. At times, I experienced slow down while playing (I have the 360 version) but it didn’t affect the game’s overall experience. Also occasionally, low resolution textures will suddenly appear, often during cut scenes. Neither of these issues are very serious but they still detract from LA Noire’s overall immersion factor.
The inclusion of random crimes in LA Noire is great, these missions are much more action oriented than the game’s main story missions. These side missions usually involve chasing down a suspect or helping out another police officer in a shoot out. They’re always simple and quick but they offer a nice change of pace from the game’s main investigation based story.
The highly publicized facial technology works very well but it also gives LA Noire’s characters a very strange look to them. Their faces move exactly how you would expect them to in real life but the animation of the game’s character’s bodies looks somewhat off. LA Noire’s characters also often look a little creepy, they look real yet something seems off with them – welcome to the uncanny valley I guess. During interrogation sequences, I often found it extremely difficult to tell if a suspect was telling the truth or lying. At times this can get extremely frustrating (repeating the same sequence over and over) but overall the facial technology used to develop LA Noire’s characters is superb and unlike anything ever seen before in a video game.
The main story investigation missions can sometimes get repetitive but switching to different beats, from traffic to homicide for example, keeps the game fresh. Still, every mission is very similar; you drive to a crime scene, find clues, question a witness and watch tons of cut scenes. LA Noire is a very cinematic experience and some gamers may find this very boring. Personally, investigations were my favorite aspect of the game; they reminded me of classic PC adventure games like Monkey Island.
If you become engrossed in LA Noire’s finely crafted story, missions start to become quite intense. Team Bondi’s attention to detail, whether it’s the game’s amazing facial expression technology, its intricately crafted version of 1940s Los Angeles, or the development team’s effort to make LA Noire actually look like it takes place in the 1940’s, all come together to create a fresh unique gaming experience.
-LA Noire feels fresh (I’ve never played a game like this before and I doubt I will ever again)
-Meticulously crafted 1940’s Los Angeles
-Facial expression technology is amazing
-Provides a unique gaming experience
-Team Bondi’s Los Angeles is empty (there are hardly any side missions)
-The game can get repetitive and boring
-You can’t be a bad guy (Cole Phelps is so good it gets annoying at some points)
Overall Score: 8/10
Recomendation: Buy It!