L.A. Noire was released in the UK on May 20th amidst a whole lot of hype. In fact it was one of the reasons that I decided to take the plunge and buy a PS3 after sticking by my Wii (there’s a joke to be made there someone) for five years. That means that obviously I had some pretty high expectations of the latest game from the Rockstar stable. Could L.A. Noire meet these expectations?
Well yes and no.
You play as Cole Phelps, a war hero and all-round good cop. L.A. Noire isn’t like previous Rockstar game Red Dead Redemption where you choose whether to play it nice or dirty, for all but one piece of plot device Cole is a good guy through and through. Cole’s dreams to make it from walking the beat to a detective position are quickly realized as you play through what amount to tutorial levels.
If you were expecting L.A. Noire to be GTA: Cops then you will be sorely disappointed. The pace is far slower and the game revolves around investigation and interrogation. It’s in the interrogation scenes that L.A. Noire really shines. The detail in the faces of the characters is beyond what has ever been done before – a subtle twitch or eye movement can reveal a lie or hidden truth. This is somewhat spoiled by the fact that your success (or lack thereof) in interrogation doesn’t really matter. The game goes on regardless.
Squint during the cut scenes and you’d be forgiven at times for believing that you’re really watching a detective drama. The acting performances are the best I’ve ever seen and I don’t see them being beat anytime soon. It is the performances, and not the story, that are the star of L.A. Noire.
The story itself is interesting at times, repetitive at others and always linear. Not a FF XIII level of linear but pretty bad nevertheless. You go from point A to point B as dictated by the story, and unless you want to drive around Rockstar’s recreation of L.A. to complete the side missions (driving every car, shooting bad guys in incredibly repetitive street crimes, etc) then there’s little reason to do anything else.
The combat system (which involves either shooting or fisticuffs) feels clunky – it’s somewhere between GTA: IV and Red Dead Redemption in that regard. Luckily there is very little in terms of combat in the game.
It took me around 20 hours to complete L.A. Noire and I’m sure it could be done more quickly. Once you’ve completed a case there isn’t much of an incentive to replay it unless you’re a trophy hunter. There is also no multiplayer which will be an issue to some people. However I understand why this is the case this as I can’t imagine what you would do playing L.A. Noire online except the street crime missions – and since these take about 2 minutes each to complete they’re not much of a challenge.
I feel like L.A. Noire was an excellent concept done somewhat well. Beyond the superb facial animations the game doesn’t really stand out. It’s just missing one piece of the puzzle that could have made L.A. Noire a great game rather than a good one.
If you haven’t already bought L.A. Noire then I would recommend that you either wait for the price to drop to around the £20 mark or rent it and dedicate a long weekend to completing it.
You can buy L.A. Noire at the links below.
XBox 360: http://bit.ly/kfAqUW