L.A. Noire Review: Taking Veiled Mystery To Another Level

It is the 1940s golden era of the dawn, and it is up to a few honest gamers to contribute back to society and become detectives to be reckoned with in the city of sunny Los Angeles, California. L.A. Noire introduces one of the most original aspects of a video game to date: bringing the classical noire category into an entirely new escapade of action, thrill, and complete brawn. The narrative is engaging, the environments are realistic, and the people themselves live a lifestyle that can be identified with indirectly. Step into the limelight and suit of a detective chaser journey that is meant to be played.

L.A. Noire starts with a level of promise in the storyline by offering no difficulty mode. There is only one degree of difficulty, which is rather refreshing in terms of a true storyline perspective meant to establish an exposition that is enticing. Players discover themselves as protagonist Cole Phelps, a hard working street cop that has high ambitions to progress further in his career to save a city which is naturally distrusting of anyone who is not a gangster, drug dealer, or criminal. As Cole Phelps investigates various murders throughout the city, and hunts down suspects and prime leads towards solving cases, something more unique and darker is revealed as the storyline develops into a level of unadulterated suspense and noir classical genius.

The world of L.A. Noire is divided into 4 parts of the city district, which serves as the environment of the crimes and the backdrop of the development of every unique character encountered. The city of Los Angeles is bright by the day in the sunlight, while the night time sees various developing crime scenes to be discovered the next morning. It is 1947, and crime is rampant at every corner. From the inception of a police career, players are given the option to ride in a police car and do the daily chores that seem to be antiquated for Cole Phelps, doing the same tasks day in and day out. As Cole Phelps proves himself to the LAPD, he is ranked to the rank of Detective within internal assignment and investigations. Players have various departments and case manager chiefs that assign different cases as they develop over the time of the in-game clock, thereby effectively providing a different journey per person with each storyline.  The storyline cases that form the central aspect of the core gameplay are extensively brilliant: from storyline, to animations, visuals, and character types. The storylines per case tie into the overall storyline of Cole Phelps’ ambitions to be a detective, the animationsare realistic using motion capture proprietary technology, the environments themselves including the interrogation rooms are neatly done, while the character types are unique which is typical of Rockstar Games at this point.

The investigatory aspects of each case are different but revolve around investigation and evidence. Indications are automatically noted in the notebooks of the case files. Sometimes, different cases involve a fighting mechanic that is interesting, but rather repetitive and simplistic. Combat itself can be a little disappointing. As soon as Cole Phelps finds a tip, he can follow the tips to the next place. Interrogations are the final steps which are truly ingeniously done as one has to figure out if someone is being dubious or truthful. Then there one looks furthermore for proofs and carries out questionings. A true shame about L.A. Noire seems to be the linearity of the sandbox play. It is not similar to Heavy Rain where there is one killer for a linear storyline to make sense, but even then Heavy Rain does things slightly differently and yet suffers from the same situation. L.A. Noire’s actual mission design could have benefitted from a more non-linear storyline outcome, but rather chooses to be simplistic than more involved.

One of the most ingenious aspects of L.A. Noire revolves around case timings and the key facet of discovery. There are many side-quest crimes occurring and the player can take care of them depending on the time, place, and location during the day or night. This exploration carries on to collectibles between 50 golden film rolls and location discoveries to be had.  From this point, players can play a total of 23 cases including the downloadable content available now for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles for a price of approximately 10.00 €.  Bank Robberies, Hostage Negotiations, Theft, Gunfights, etc. are all part of a cohesive set of mission structure choices to keep a level of uncontested variety that is truly rich for the 59.99 € pricepoint.

L.A. Noire delivers something unique but at the same time something which does leave a bit more to be desired because of how perfectly it manages to create some parts of the gameplay structure, the voice acting, and the visual fidelity. While there is a central issue of only playing once and having an extremely limited replay capacity with no multiplayer offerings, L.A. Noire does truly deliver a crime thriller film in a video game that is more than entertaining and fun. Anyone who ever wanted to know what it is like to be a detective can look no further than L.A. Noire.

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