L.A Noire “Just in case you missed it” Review
The Good:An immersive game, like no other
The Bad:Not enough clarity on some interrogation questions
STORY You play the role of ex military and current member of the LAPD, Cole Phillips (Aaron Staton from TV series Mad Men). Cole is an ambitious officer of the law, who starts life in the LAPD as a patrol man, but soon his detective work and intuition skills are soon noticed by his superiors [...]
You play the role of ex military and current member of the LAPD, Cole Phillips (Aaron Staton from TV series Mad Men). Cole is an ambitious officer of the law, who starts life in the LAPD as a patrol man, but soon his detective work and intuition skills are soon noticed by his superiors and he begins to climb rank, but the only thing getting in Cole’s way is the criminal scum on the streets of L.A. But things are not always what they seem on the street of L.A, Cole seems to harbouring demons of his own and it appears he wants to write the wrongs of his past: what did Cole do that was so wrong during his involvement during the second world war and why is he so desperate to put things right?
Where do I start? The graphics of L.A Noire are stunning, especially the unnerving realism of each and every characters facial animation, L.A built up alot of hype and used their facial animations as a focal selling point and I can assure you, it’s no anti-climax. Many times when I was interviewing a key witness or suspect, I lost myself completely into a gaze of amazement, watching characters facial expressions and I totally forgot I was playing a video game. But the facial animations need to be of a extremely high standard, as L.A Noire is way back in the 1940’s they did not have such technologies as we do today and you must rely on a characters expressions to determine whether or not you believe their story.
L.A Noire is not all about the pretty face; it also has a rich and engrossing world to get lost in. The nostalgia is wonderfully captured and you really do feel like you are in one of those black and white vintage movies (and in the option menu, you can actually change the colour settings to black & white for true authenticity), the whole city is full of people getting along with their business, colourful hotels and vintage cars.
L.A does though have some framerate issues as far as some of the car traffic is concerned. For example, you could be making your way through a T-Junction and cars around you will be travelling at a regular pace and then suddenly ‘BAM!’ a car has come crashing into the side of you at an unnatural pace. But this is just being picky, L.A Noire is one of the best looking games on any console and it is actually difficult to explain how good these graphics are, until you’ve actually seen them do magic.
The soundtrack and voice acting is quite possibly some of the best I’ve seen in any video game. Any soundtrack to any successful video game is a vital form of storytelling and L.A Noire is no exception. L.A Noire doesn’t feature any officially licensed soundtracks like its Rockstar counterpart GTA, but what it does do, is offer a soundtrack that sets a mood almost perfectly. From cruising the streets in your cop car, chasing a suspect on foot or interrogating a suspect, the soundtrack does a superb job. Without the soundtrack, L.A Noire would still be a stunning game, but without it, it will certainly be a little less immersive. I’ve always thought that a soundtrack tells 50% of a story, but L.A. Noire’s soundtrack is in fact its very own life support machine.
And on top of that great soundtrack comes great voice acting and this cannot be said for the majority of video games. Along with the facial animations, the voice acting for every character is very believable, its movie quality acting. Many times I found myself almost in a trance watching the characters talk and live amongst the L.A Noire world; so many times I completely forgot I was playing a video game. This is no exaggeration, almost everything in this game is of a very high standard and you have to see it, to believe how good it is.
Your job as Los Angeles law enforcer Cole Phillips is to tag and bag the bad guy. Every crime is split into various scenarios and each time, this will entail you to search a crime scene for clues, question any witnesses and compile a comprehensive data base of information, which will hopefully result in you convicting the correct suspect and keep the streets of L.A a little safer. After each scenario, you will be given an overall rating of the case in question, you will be judged on the amount of clues found, correct questions asked to key witnesses and suspects and even how much damage you have caused whilst pursuit the bad guys. On the surface, when it come to control the movements of Cole Phillips, you will instantly get that Rockstar feeling and like many of Rockstars most successful games, there is alot of depth, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
But let’s get back to L.A Noires well known integration system. When you have gathered all clues and questioned key witness, the time will come when you will integrate a key suspect. Depending on what clues and evidence you have gained, will result in what questions you can ask each suspect. Find little evidence and you will face a very tall order in convicting your key suspect, find all the clues and correctly question each witness and you will have all the tools you need to convict your suspect.
When you ask your suspect a question, it is up to you to judge the answer they give you, some will give you all the information you need and some will be like getting blood from a stone. Depending on what answer they give you, it will be up to you whether you believe they are telling the ‘Truth’, if you ‘Doubt’ them or if they are telling a blatant ‘Lie’. But be careful how you respond to each suspect’s answers, if you accuse them of lying, in most cases they will ask you what evidence you have to back up you accusations. This is where all your information you gathered at the crime scene will come into play.
You can normally tell whether a suspect is telling the truth or hiding something, due to the uncanny ‘lifelike’ facial expressions. Some suspects or witnesses will go all twitchy Stephenson with ants in their pants and some will be a little more difficult to judge. But if you ever come to a loss during integration or searching for clues and evidence, you have ‘Intuition Points’. Intuition points can be used to remove a question to a suspect and allow you to go back on yourself, remove one of either ‘Truth’, ‘Doubt’ or ‘Lie’ during an integration. This will give you a slightly better chance of asking the correct question to a witness or suspect, think of them as lifelines similar to ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ and your almost there. If you’re stuck for searching a crime scene and cannot find any clues, using Intuition points can also make key pieces of evidence appear on your map. But use your intuition points wisely, you only have so many and it will take a while to get them back.
You gain Intuition points as you gain experience when you solve cases, but if you want to gain them more quickly, this can be done by participating in L.A Noires side missions. As you’re a driving to your next crime location or just cruising and patrolling the streets, you here a message coming from you Police radio, reporting of a nearby crime. These are called ‘Street Crimes’ and by doing these Street Crimes it will all add to your overall completion of the game and add that all import XP that gives you ‘Intuition Points’, there are 40 Street Crimes in total to complete. The other way to gain more XP, is by finding the Hidden Vehicles that are scattered throughout L.A Noires massive map, more hidden vehicles will appear on you map as a ‘?’ as you progress further into the game.
L.A Noires has a large and fulfilling universe, fly through the missions and you won’t find that much depth, explore every corner and you will find new surprises with each playthrough.
One of the most frustrating things with L.A Noire is when you don’t find all the clues from a crime scene or if you fail to ask the correct questions when integrating a witness or suspect. But never fear fellow perfectionists, because L.A Noire will allow you to replay any mission and allow us to hopefully gain that 5 star rating at the end of each investigation. But gaining a perfect score is not the only reason to come back to L.A Noire, you can replay any mission any which way you choose, ask different questions, even arrest different witnesses(which is a bonus for me, as I wrongly arrested a suspect, which resulted in me getting a telling off from my superior). And on top of that, you have the hidden vehicles, hidden film reels and the badge pursuit challenge to complete. Completing all side quests will go towards your 100% completion of L.A Noire, not to mention those lovely achievement points you’ll earn along the way.
L.A Noire has a massively fulfilling campaign and with all the extra’s to boot, L.A will stay amongst your most treasured collection for a very long time. For me, this game will go down as one of the current generation classics and it will have you coming back for many years to come.
L.A Noire is quite simply a must buy, it belongs in almost everyone’s collection; it is a great game, that offers great replay value. Though I’m sure there will be some people in which this game may seem like it doesn’t appeal to them. If you shop about, you should be able to pick up a pre owned copy for around £10 or the Complete Edition (which has all the DLC) for around £20 new. I urge everyone who loves gaming to give L.A Noire a try. Even if you rent it first, give it ago, you might be surprised and find yourself in a 1940’s time warp for all eternity.
L.A Noire “Just in case you missed it” Review,