L.A. Noire | Zombiegamer Review

In Short

L.A. Noire is a narrative crime thriller that blends movie-like cinematics with story driven gameplay to deliver an unprecedented and engrossing gaming experience. It’s the interactive story which has you solve crimes, favouring thorough detective work to build stronger cases against your suspect[s]. A deep, rewarding and unique experience from the publisher that we have come to expect this pedigree from.

Developer: Team Bondi

Publisher: Rockstar

For fans of: Story driven titles. Rockstar Games. Detective flicks.

Reviewed on: Xbox 360

Also available on: PlayStation 3

If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.0/10

What I liked

  • Strong storyline
  • Unique gaming experience
  • Best animations I’ve seen
  • Sound and graphics are extremely polished
  • Dialogue is engaging and
  • Very immersive
  • Memorable characters

Not so much

  • Borrowed game mechanics, but they do work well
  • A few and minor graphic issues – clipping here and there

 

"The Woman in the Window", one of 50 gold film canisters to find and collect for the 'Hollywoodland' Achievement/Trophy.

Overview

L.A. Noire is the set in the post-war boom of Hollywood’s Golden Age. You play as army veteran, now L.A.P.D detective, Cole Phelps starting his career as a good old boy in blue. Soon enough with good police work in L.A where crime and corruption is rampant, you work your way up the ranks by battling the underworld.

Amongst regular police work, you need to crack brutal crime cases by working through evidence, interrogating people, analyzing people’s reactions all to help you put a strong case together.

It starts off a little slow, really throwing you into the detective work and teaching you how to go about it. But as the cases get bigger and more complex, the action intensifies.

Gameplay and Features

Team Bondi used the proven library of Rockstar game mechanics and added some new features and design elements. As usual with Rockstar games, L.A. Noire follows a strong storyline and features memorable characters. But L.A. Noire concentrates heavily on the narration, the interactive story and the detective work.

You need to search thoroughly for clues, and use the new well designed interface of examining items. As you get close to objects that can either help or not with clues, your controller vibrates and a chime sounds off. Cole will tell you what objects are not of concern and you will be able to zoom in to those that are, for closer inspection.

When interrogating suspects or witnesses, watch them closely, as their animations could give you indications that they could be hiding something. As you successfully ask the right questions, get the right answers and find more evidence, you earn experience points. You also earn intuition points for getting correct answers, which can be used to make the investigation easier i.e. by showing you all the evidence or narrowing down possible answers. You can even ask the community if you are online to help get a clearer picture. When interrogating, you can either select the person is telling the truth, you can doubt them or call them out on lying. If you get it wrong though, the person can throw you off the truth.

Some of the smaller sideline activities are what you would expect in a cop’s day, and it’s your choice to take them or not when the call comes in. The smaller cases vary depending on your department within the force. So when you are in ‘homicide’ you can expect cases that would be common to that dept. That said, there is variation, but mostly involve chasing, shooting and brawling.

You can either drive yourself or get your partner behind the wheel to get to the next crime scene. If you are driving, remember – you are the law, so don’t break too many rules. Any inflicted laws that you break, will count against you in a report upon the current case’s conclusion. If you cause fatalities, they will count highly against you.

 

Graphics and Sound

As with most games that play across really big maps, the buildings and cars are satisfying on the eye while not being intricately detailed. The character designs and animations are the opposite – exquisitely detailed and life-like. The animations are ground-breaking and really help drive the high quality package.

Movie buffs will notice the brilliant camera work to. In a cut-scene for example, the camera focuses on an object of importance, while the background is off-focus, very film like. The transition from gameplay to cut-scenes is just super smooth and just about seamless, which adds to the almost flawless visuals.

The sound is very much what you would expect from a good ‘detective movie,’ it suits the era very well and helps set the mood in the scenes. Sound effects, like the visuals are just about flawless. The voice acting is absolutely brilliant and elevates the strong story driven gaming experience, as does the character’s acting in general. You should even recognise a few famous faces and voices.

Overall the graphics and sounds are amongst the finest, with animations being better than anything I can think of. Rockstar’s investment in the technology behind this aspect was a great investment indeed and has raised the bar on what I will consider ‘very good’ in future.

Conclusion

L.A. Noire oozes quality, it’s a rich, narrative, interactive title that will keep you thinking and engrossed. The crimes are brutal favouring the mature audience and well their designs were well written, which is important as the game does revolve around them.

A title so well designed, acting and dialogue amongst the very best and the animations so groundbreaking, that it all adds up to make one of the most captivating gaming experiences to be had. I suspect we will be celebrating this one for some time to come.

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