Sometimes, it is nice to play something different. I mean, it seems like the industry is buried in Call of Duty games, Street Fighter 4 games, and thankfully, no more music games. I like to see companies break out of the mold and do something different. I think the company I am most proud of is Rockstar. I have played their Grand Theft Auto franchise, but I don’t really see the big deal about the games. I can understand their popularity and well thought out story to some extent, but it really isn’t my kind of franchise. That is why I was pleasantly surprised about Red Dead Redemption. I mean, yeah, the story dragged on near the end, but it was a very solid game and definitely worth the Game of the Year award. Personally, I would have chosen Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Mass Effect 2. When I heard Rockstar was doing a game where the setting was the 1940’s and you were a detective, I was intrigued and when I saw the trailers, I was excited. Some of the review scores for this next review can be a bit biased and overblown, but it is definitely worth playing, rather than games like Bullet Storm or Gears of War 2. The game in question is Team Bondi’s first game and hopefully not their last, L.A. Noire. Like I said, this game does have its share of faults, but they really aren’t that big. Besides, I have to talk about the game first and not just say all the bad things first. So, put on your nicest suit from the 40’s, this is my review of L.A. Noire
The story puts you into the shoes of detective Cole Phelp, a post-war hero and small-time police officer, who throughout the story rises from the ranks of police officer to a homicide detective. During the story, you meet interesting characters, from the different sidekicks you get through the story to the suspects and criminals you encounter. The story overall is well told, interesting, and keeps you guessing as to what was going on with Cole Phelp during the war and why he wants to bring justice to the crime-ridden city of Los Angeles. It kind of reminds me of Law and Order: L.A. since it has the same atmosphere. However, as an early warning, the third act in the story where you are the homicide detective can drag on a little more than it should. Still, an entertaining story
The gameplay is mixed between a sort of linear adventure game mixed with gunplay, driving, and detective work. You get a case handed to you, and you go to each location looking for clues, and interrogating the suspects or witnesses. The main gimmick in the game is to talk to the suspects and watch their facial reactions to your comments. You then have to know if they are either lying, doubtful, or telling the truth. If you think they are lying, make sure you have evidence to back it up. It can be rather difficult at the beginning to get used to this mechanic in the game, but you get used to it as you play through the game more. The other mechanics are to drive around town to each destination or to other side cases like shoot-outs or suicides to name a few. The other part is just standard third person shooting. A lot of things can score you on each case, like how you drive, how many clues you find, and how many questions you get right. Overall, you should get about a 12-hour experience, which is worth the money, in my opinion.
The graphical look of the game on the PS3 looks great and the whole 40’s look of the game is amazing. A lot of attention has been paid to detail and making sure that the 40’s in L.A. was about as accurate as you could get. It might not be super accurate, but I think it looks the part, from he shine on the cars, to the facial animation captured on the people’s faces, it all looks great. There are a few glitches here and there, but it is an overall polished graphical package. The voice work is also amazing with some great voice works done by the actors. For example, the actor for Cole Phelps is Aaron Staton who if you’re a Mad Men fan is Ken Cosgrove. There are other actors like Michael McGrady from Southland and John Noble, but there are a lot of TV actors that you could probably recognize more than me. The music is also very well done with great jazz tracks, and different songs from the 40’s. It’s fun to listen to and it fit the part most of the time.
However, in this game, as unique as it is, they could have used a few more months to iron out some of the flaws. A lot of people have asked why there isn’t some co-op play, but I am not going to complain about that since I don’t think the game needs it. My complaint comes from the sluggishly repetitious 3rd act. All the cases are basically revolving around this one killer and no other killers. It’s tedious and it drags the end of the story and the game on a little longer than it should have. People who haven’t played this or are not accustomed to this style of game will probably get bored and not want to play. There is no other game like this coming out this year, so in my opinion, they could have polished things out a little before it was released. I also wish the game was a bit more open-ended since it is more of a linear game even though it has side missions you can do during the main mission. I say this since it’s being published by Rockstar, the king of free roaming games, so I expected more freedom to the game.
Overall, L.A. Noire is pretty unique, and it is one of the better games of 2011. I would say if you’re a fan of Rockstar, get it. It still has that good story and character development you get from Rockstar games, even though the third act is a bit rough and slow. You could wait for the price to go down and then pick it up. Sometimes, we need to play something different from our usual catalog of games. Maybe you all should do the same. Why not start with L.A. Noire
This game gets an 8 out of 10