L.A. Noire: exceeds expectations

L.A. Noire: exceeds expectations

Ziggy Ventura, Staff Writer

L.A. Noire is definitely not what I expected. Popping it into my 360 I honestly thought I was going to be playing a new kind of Grand Theft Auto, similar to Red Dead Redemption which was released in 2010. Having played a good portion of it, I can say that it is not at all like Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto, and I’m supremely happy about it.

Development for L.A. Noire began in February of 2004 by Team Bondi, which was funded and supported by Rockstar Games from the get go. Initially there was widespread speculation that the game would only be developed for the PS3; however, late in 2008 a spokesperson finally announced that it would be for the Xbox 360 as well. The fervor for the game grew, as it was reported that full facial animation, or motion capture, would be used in the game and that over 20 hours of voice acting would be involved in the game.

The game itself was finally released on May 18, 2010. The game is very straightforward in its story and focus. It is set in Los Angeles in 1947, and you follow the exploits of war hero turned cop in Cole Phelps. Cole has recently returned home from the war, and plays the roles of a “perfect cop” as he never does anything against procedure. You start as a beat cop, walking the city, looking for various crimes. From there you move through four distinct departments: Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson. There are several twists and turns that reveal parts of Cole’s past, as well as adding to the overarching story, which I don’t wish to spoil, but they’re pretty neat. Overall I enjoyed the story, although I had some problems with points in the plot and I didn’t really like the way they described and showed Cole’s time in the War.

Gameplay is also polished and well mapped. The controls weren’t hard to master, and the learning curve was rather shallow. I found I was able to jump right into solving the cases as soon as the game stopped directly showing me what to do, although the game never completely allows you to do everything by yourself and sometimes goes out of its way to help you. This can sometimes drag the game down and take you out of the world they worked so hard to lovingly recreate. This isn’t that bad, it’s just a little aggravating.

A large part of the game is the new “interrogation” system in which you are asked to read the person’s face as you question them, and figure out if they are either lying, telling the truth, or you think they’re lying but lack the evidence. This system works extremely well, and I found myself obsessed with trying to get everything correct during an investigation and subsequent interrogation. The game doesn’t punish you if you’re wrong, which takes away some of the realism of solving cases, but at times I was happy it did this and didn’t make me repeat the case, as I feel it would have ruined the flow of the game anyways.

The game has no multiplayer as it’s a straightforward narrative only. I really liked that about the game, as I feel multiplayer gaming is taking over the industry and taking away from those of us who would rather be part of telling a story and immersing ourselves in a world not our own.

Overall it’s definitely a new experience. It’s something you’ve probably never played before and (barring a sequel) will never play again. If you’ve ever wanted to live out an episode of Law and Order, this is your dream game. If you’re looking for a game where you just run around, shoot random civilians, and wreak havoc in L.A. this is most definitely not the game for you. I personally love it, however since I know it’s a hit or miss for a lot of people, and because of this I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 on Ziggy’s Scale of Excellence.