L.A. Noire Review: The Last Veridical Noir

The sun is setting in a city that is all too inhaled in the smoke of its own corruption. The warm rays paint the decadent landscape in an eerie light, where the stains of murdered blood remain rampant at night. Team Bondi’s L.A. Noire reveals the level of post-war complexity of corruption, drugs, and murder within a radiant Los Angeles setting. With a high level of detail and one of the best facial motion captures cinematic we have seen to date, L.A. Noire allows players to become a detective and truly believe that everyone has something to hide. Details, emotions, expressions, and uncertainty all make this Rockstar Games’ best crime open-world adventure and truly the best of its kind despite any small issues, with action and adventure similar to titles such as Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV.  The 1940s noir cinematic ambiance grows from the old classic Hollywood crime dramas of the golden noir age, giving L.A. Noire the gameplay that fuses together with a blend of cinema style that makes colors seem like the new black-and-white visuals of classic Hollywood.

L.A. Noire begins as the sun arises in Los Angeles, California on 1947. The crime thriller nature is exposed immediately from the inception of the title’s central narrative. You play as Cole Phelps, an LAPD beat cop turned detective who soon discovers that the city is more than just great weather and beautiful dames. Murder is happening every minute and another poor shmuck is killed over something that seems insignificant. The post-war success of the economy past the World War II 1940s downtime brought a level of stability to the nation, but gave more than a few healthy and able men the time to commit serious crimes.   As a detective in one of the hardest precincts the nation has to offer, gamers will soon discover that the job title is not what it is all cut out to be, and everyone is in question of their integrity and their willingness to expose Los Angeles for what it really is during the 1940s economic climax. Murder, intrigue, mendacity, racketeering, and the thrill of the chase make L.A. Noire share an exemplary homage to cinema film noir such as Out of the Past.

Cases are the entire core gameplay mechanics of L.A. Noire, entitling gamers to the life of a detective fused with their own ethics, morals, and approach methodology to crimes throughout the city. As the detective, players not only worry about the murders that happen in the city, but also the corruption within the very department that doles the authority of power and justice. There is a level of political chicanery in the interlude of the sunrise and the sunset on the horizon of the ocean waters of Los Angeles. The crime scenes themselves have more than one clue, and it is up to the detectives to not only investigate, but put their life on the line chasing criminals that are on the verge of serial in this title which induces dramatic dialogue and tension in the noir traditional aspect. Departments are central to the assignment of the missions throughout the predominant landscape of the gameplay structure.  Different parts of the police force are tied to: Patrol, Traffic, Arson, Homicide, and Vice. Each department allows Cole Phelps to have multiple partners on a certain case and report back to each department’s Captain.  After clues are gained, interrogations bring a real-world level of detail to facial expressions and the use of intimidation to gain leads. The gameplay mechanics of interrogations is designed simply, but require close listening skills to decide the perfect ways to approach a situation with multiple endings to each interrogation. Different briefings are done on a daily basis and indulge the player to have a distinct variety of missions when it comes to the dynamic combination of gameplay, the smooth and slow-to-fast variable pacing, and the transitions of the various neoteric set pieces. While L.A. Noire assimilates a lot of the gameplay aspects perfectly, there are key inherent flaws in its gameplay design. A true shame about L.A. Noire seems to be the linearity of the sandbox play in the missions themselves, following a classical Heavy Rain Syndrome: missing a golden opportunity to provide more storyline variety. L.A. Noire seems to miss an opportunity to become a free-roam experience not just in the world but also the results of the same cases and having different endings, perhaps changing culprits or making it so the player actually fails to catch some where they will reappear again. The lack of variety or true replay ingenuity value degrades L.A. Noire slightly but not enough to take away from the level of excitement and entertainment to be had from the first play-through.

The rest of the gameplay within L.A. Noire focuses on the movement throughout the open-world game: vehicles, weapons, side-quests and artificial intelligence (A.I.).  Reminiscent of classic noir titles, L.A. Noire makes the means of car chases the ends to a climactic dexterity in cinematics and revelation of certain situations that develop. Vehicles themselves act as a means of transport and allow the game to develop further. Brands involved with L.A. Noire’s vehicles range from vintage Cadillac Series 60 cars, to Chevrolet Airflow and the Styleline. Weapons are constantly on the player and are required for any scene a detective visits, regardless of the level of severity of the case. Melee, handgun, shotgun, rifle, and sub-machine weapons are included, with more to be introduced through downloadable content (DLC). Various crimes are constantly ongoing in the rubescent city of Los Angeles. 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. The only other disappointment with L.A. Noire has to do with something that is surprisingly different when it comes to Rockstar Games, but the level of crowd A.I. can be tremendously more refined and better. Parts of the crowd sometimes say nonsensical things, which is a bit deterring for the standard L.A. Noire sets for its gameplay.

L.A. Noire is a uniquely revolutionary title in not only becoming the first real open-world title to be a detective noir thriller, but also providing players the level of atmosphere that is rarely seen in any game other than from those created under the Rockstar Games label.  Crowd A.I. might have its foibles, but the rest of the environment more than makes up for any of the small marks of the façade. There is an inherent lack of replayability in the title itself through the extremely linear mission storyline designs, but the first time anyone plays L.A. Noire, they will not be disappointed until a second session.  L.A. Noire fuses sophistication with a real living and breathing environment where detectives are always needed, achieving a level of noir that can proudly call itself one of the last true noir pieces of the 1940s. L.A. Noire reveals to every gamer that things are not as apparent as they seem. On one side of the city there can be a statuesque ripple in a wave, while across the clean paved roads on the other side of town there can be dissimilarity with a victim’s blood seeping out of the body to drainage near some obscure spot of the road.

I'm all about one thing: reviews that are easy to understand and make sense of.

Lost Password

Sign Up