L.A. Noire (Xbox 360) Reviews

  • FiscalCliff2013FiscalCliff2013115,087
    29 May 2011 17 Sep 2013
    38 17 25
    OK, 3 stars in the midst of all these A+ reviews is going to sound reactionary. Maybe it is. There was a lot of anticipation in the months leading up to LA Noire's release, and I find myself very disappointed with the finished product, while I think some other players are still dazzled by the hype. Once the shine of newness wears off, I think gamers will start to realize that LA Noire falls well short of greatness.

    THE GOOD: Atmosphere, Storytelling
    This is a very pretty game. 1940s L.A. is rendered beautifully, with just the right mix of Americana realism and film noir stylization -- this game joins the ranks of Red Dead Redemption and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood to show that there's a lot of fantastic unexplored territory in the sandbox genre. As promised, the facial-mapping technique this game pioneers is very exciting, if not perfect (we're still not at the point where digital representations of faces can look really human, in my opinion). I don't think I can name a game with better voice acting. The cars and old-timey radio content add a lot of atmosphere.

    MINOR COMPLAINTS: Some glitches and missed opportunities
    There are some bugs. The game can tend to freeze; luckily the auto-save feature is very aggressive. Sometimes you'll encounter a mission failure for no reason at all (example: while chasing a suspect, the game tells you that he escaped, even though he's right in front of you). This kind of thing doesn't happen terribly often, but it is an annoyance. Once, between cases, as I walked to the door of my street-parked car, a driver came out of nowhere and sideswiped me to death for no reason at all*...again, it's not a big deal, but if feels like the kind of issue that should be resolved by now. Disc changing is a minor inconvenience (you have to swap out discs to advance, and then to replay cases or even smaller street crimes). Other than cases, there's not much to do...just some collecting, and the street crimes which are short and repetitive. Mayhem is discouraged, and that can feel limiting

    * (Edit) I want to clarify this, because I didn't describe it adequately in my original review. While I was on the passenger side of a car parked on the side of the road, I pressed the "enter car" button. Cole auto-walked around the car to get to the driver's side, and as he was attempting to open the door, he got instantly killed by a speeding car. As I said in the comments, these kinds of bugs weren't serious enough to affect my enjoyment of the game; this one, in fact, was good for a laugh at least.

    The problem with LA Noire is that it prioritizes storytelling over gameplay. This seems especially lame in a year that brought us Portal 2, a game that manages to tell a compelling story through the gameplay, without resorting to so much as a single cutscene. LA Noire feels like it's about 85% cutscene, but that's only the tip of the problematic-gameplay iceberg.

    First of all, there's interrogations, which are really the main interactive portion of the crime solving aspect of the game. You ask a question; the witness or suspect responds; and you're supposed to choose one of three reactions, "Truth," "Doubt," or "Lie" (which requires you to back up your accusation with evidence). The problem is that those words -- truth, doubt, and lie -- don't accurately reflect what your reaction is really going to mean. For example, in an early case, a bartender tells you the victim left the bar, arguing with his wife. From evidence you've already gathered, you know for a fact that this is true, and the bartender doesn't appear to be lying; but you're supposed to select "doubt" so that you can ask why the wife was in such a hurry to leave. Sometimes you're supposed to select "Lie" to dispute a lie that hasn't even been told yet, that doesn't seem related to the original question. It's really unintuitive, like a very fancy game of Rock/Paper/Scissors; your goal is to guess what the game developers intended, rather than what would make sense.

    The other aspect of solving crimes are just too easy. You gather clues at a number of different scenes, but the game holds your hand and tells you when to move an item around just so or when to examine it further, and music cues tell you when you're near an item or when you're done. Very occasionally you'll encounter a puzzle, but they're ridiculously easy (i.e. you find a slip of paper with three symbols on it, and later you find a box with a lock that requires three symbols to open...hmmm).

    But what's really infuriating is the way story gets in the way of gameplay. This is a problem throughout the Homicide Desk, which takes up the bulk of disc 2. You might have seen some reviews that refer to one particular case, the Golden Butterfly case, and its confusing ending. Explaining my issue with this game requires some spoilers here, but I'll try to be as vague as possible.


    In the Golden Butterfly case, if you gather all the evidence, you find that it points equally to two suspects: the victim's abusive husband, and an unrelated child molester who has no motive. After you're done interrogating these guys, you're asked to accuse one of them. I spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out a way to continue the case without accusing either of them, because I was pretty confident they were both innocent. No dice, you have to choose one. I chose the abusive husband, who at least had a motive. There was no indication that I chose wrong, but the Chief was pissed off and I got a very low rating on the case. (And, unlike any traditional noir detective story, there's no "payoff" where the crook angrily confesses everything, so it all feels very incomplete.)

    As I continued through the Homicide Desk, it became more and more obvious that a lot of these people I was putting away were not guilty. There are disturbing similarities to all the murders, yet my partner insists that they're all copycat murders, as if L.A. is swarming with crazed sickos with size 8 shoes (and apparently our department leaks every detail of every crime to the press). I eventually realized why I'd gotten such a low score in the Golden Butterfly case: the game didn't want me to pick the murderer, it just wanted me to pick the guy who deserved to be in jail more. But I thought this would be a game where I would use my intellect to solve crimes.

    It's all meant to lead up to a big payoff where you confront the serial killer -- someone, it turns out, that I had wanted to question early on, but that option was never given. That's a fine story for a movie or a pulp novel, but it just doesn't work in game form. It's very frustrating, because I know from the Phoenix Wright games that this can be done well, even when the plot requires you to put away the wrong guy.

    ** END SPOILERS **

    So there you have it. Recently games like the aforementioned Portal, Bioshock, and Braid have revolutionized the way stories are told interactively. If Team Bondi can figure out how to do the same, they'll make a 5-star sequel. As it is, unfortunately, all we have is a very pretty game that isn't as fun to play as it should be.
  • ZymoticZymotic587,309
    20 May 2011 27 Feb 2012
    40 19 0
    L.A. Noire is a game that has eclipsed most movies today.

    Personal thoughts:

    L.A. Noire is immersive and really makes you feel like you're detective Phelps instead of someone playing a video game. As you start out it quickly becomes clear that Cole Phelps is a wartime hero who's trying to work his way up the ranks of the police department. You will do this by completing 21 cases and making a notorious name for yourself in the process.


    Do not expect any heart pounding FPS gameplay where it's your personal mission to save the world from mass extinction using a pistol and rubber bullets. And do not compare L.A. Noire to any of the other rock* games either as it's much more story oriented than the usual mayhem you create in those other sandbox titles. Though the game is open world it becomes much more linear when you begin a case. Outside of cases there's really not a whole lot to do. Also, please remember that Cole Phelps is a police officer, he's not going to go around shooting everyone he sees. If that's something you want then you should look else where as it's not in this game.


    I should point out that every case is different, but the way in which you solve them (questioning, clues, foot work) is all the same. You will follow a killers taunting letters, chase down a few guys to shake them for answers, question witnesses and much more. In one of the more action packed cases the excitement never seems to slow down. It starts off like any normal day with you investigating a crime scene until it turns into a car chase, followed by an alley way shoot out, then another shoot out. By the end of it almost everyone involved is dead and the only suspect you have left happens to be the only man still alive.

    1-10 (1 being worst and 10 the best)

    Overall: 9 - This is the best game I have played all year. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Noir films or movies in general. The acting is superb and nothing feels over the top or fake. The cases are interesting and some can end differently depending on how you question your suspects.

    Fun Factor:
    7 - The gameplay is nothing new and it feels just like GTAIV in that aspect. What's different is the way you feel pulled into the story like no other rock* published/developed game has before. The only downside is there really isn't anything to do outside of the main story which leaves a hugely created open world unexciting.

    Graphics: 9 - 1940'S L.A. was rendered in this game with 90% accuracy. The world Team Bondi have created is magnificently large and life like. The icing on the cake is of course the amazing capture technology used on all the actors faces. To top it all off there's also an in-game filter you can use to change everything to black and white, just like the old Noir films.

    Longevity/Replay Value: 8 - There doesn't seem to be much reason to playthrough the game a second time, yet that doesn't even matter. With already 20 hours logged I still have loads to do, and with the addition of DLC this game could take you anywhere from 25-35 hours to complete.

    Audio: 9 - Great sound, voice acting, everything just sounds great.

    Online Play: 0 - There is no multiplayer. Some people may like this, others may not.
  • ThinkMcFly88ThinkMcFly88170,600
    19 May 2011
    34 17 5
    Rockstar puts out a phenomenal narrative with LA Noire. From the moment you take the reigns as Cole Phelps you are in 1947 Los Angeles. From the gorgeous scenery, which Rockstar crafted down to the smallest details, to the sound track, and even the cigarette commercials, this IS post war LA. In true Rockstar fashion the atmosphere is alive and sucks you right in. They makers of LA Noire painstaking rebuilt LA building by building and even threw in a hefty 95 different cars from the era. Add to this the ground breaking facial animations and you would swear you were busting punks and dealing with the rampant corruption yourself.

    The interrogations sequences are phenomenal, and truly make you use your skills of deduction when trying to catch suspects in lies. It is both a fresh take on how you deal with perps and something that is bound to be used again and again in many games to come.

    Unfortunately for me, this is where my experience with the game takes a dive. While the gritty crime scenes can be something to behold, once you start the actual investigation I feel like Rockstar is holding your hand through the whole process. Finding evidence is less than challenging, and even deep into the game you get on screen prompts when eveidence you hold can be opened. This all really took me out of the whole investigating aspect of the game, which is a large part of it. Rockstar walks you through each investigation up until you interrogate someone, which as I said is truly the crowning achievement of this game.

    The game also punishes you for inadvertantly going to the wrong place on your location list during an investigation. I was marked down on final grades because I went somewhere that wound up having me apprehend a suspect and not allowing me to continue to build my case against the perp. If you bring a suspect into custody why be able to go interview some more witnesses or search their apartment before you charge them? You can also build strong cases against two seperate suspects in the same case then be marked down because the Captain would have rather charged the other guy, despite the fact you have enough evidence to charge either suspect. This felt flawed to me and really took away from the feeling of success you feel when you point your finger and say, "That's the guy."

    The driving portions feel very much like GTA, but don't be fooled. Driving like a maniac will not only get your overall grade marked down, you will very rapidly destroy your vehicle. I had no issue with upping the realism of driving and vehicle damage, but I did have one issue that continually bugged me. Apparently LA in 1947 had the most sturdy wood and chainlink fences in the history of fences. It really takes you out of the moment when you are speeding down a street weaving in and out of cars trying to take out a vehicle and as they fly off a hill you ready yourself to go flying through a wood plank fence only to have it act as a jersey barrier. I really would have liked to see some more of the environment be destructible, especially in driving sequences. Other than that one complaint the driving is phenomenal.

    The one major gripe I have about the game is how scripted most of the missions are. Now I realize that by definaition missions have to be scripted, and I am ok with that. But the level of scripting really just has you running through the motions in most cases. For instance, many foot chases during street crimes you aquire while driving around are actually unwinnable, ending in a predetermined fashion. In some case you may be able to fire a warning shot or tackle someone but it almost always feels like there was no other outcome that could be had. Even the car chases are heavily scripted in the sense that if you don't catch them eventually they crash in a predetermined location and you automatically beat the case. There is no sense of urgency to your chases, just so long as you don't fall too far behind. This sense of handholding really hampered my experience. I died maybe a handful of times and it was more so due to me intentionally doing something silly.

    And hey, we've all played games with throngs of people walking around in them so we know there are massive amounts of cloned crowd members that you will continuously see. This is the area that the fantastic facial graphics actually hurt the game. I can't tell you how many times I've shown up at a bar or been searching an area only to come across someone in the peripheral who was involved in my last case, only to realize they just recycled the face of the party. While I realize that no game can have all unique crowds, at the least don't use the faces of people who are characters in the game. It is confusing and frustrating at times, especially when cases are supposed to be linked in some instances so you are looking for folks from past cases.

    So as a game, while there are a few things that are just incredible that you haven't seen before and has brethtaking scenery and atmosphere, I can't say I loved it. It really wasn't at all challenging and felt like a tutorial the whole way through, sprinkled with some really fun interrogations.

    That isn't to say I don't like LA Noire. Infact, I truly enjoyed the narrative of the story and had a ton of fun exploring LA. For all the faults I have with the game I would recommend it to anyone looking to experience how great a job they did on the interrogations and who enjoys a great story.

    I would not recommend this game to those looking for a noire version of GTA. You can't run around gunning down people and driving just to cause chaos is almost completely nonexistent. So if your plan was to grab a tommy gun and go to town on some dirty rats, just know that you will only be doing so in the missions and not while kicking around town.

    I'd give LA Noire 4 our of 5 stars. That is how good the interrogation play and story are. Take those out and this would get 2 stars, maybe 3 tops due to the simplicity and continuous feeling of a drawn out tutorial. So if you like gangsters and the seedy side of 1940's Hollywood, by all means pick it up as you will enjoy it. If you are looking for a challenge or just a rehashed version of GTA I would absolutely pass.
  • Current FutureCurrent Future345,424
    07 Jun 2011
    16 1 1
    On the surface L.A. Noire seems almost like the perfect game. The characters are photo-realistic, the sand-box environment is large, there is a linear story, but completing a desk allows you to free play in the city. However, don't go looking for depth because you won't find it here. You may ask: how can you say there's no depth to a game on three discs? Glad you asked.

    1.) Finding clues. At first the idea of the clue music (music that plays when at a crime scene, but stops when you've found all the available clues) is a great idea, but it becomes a crutch fast. I can recall only one case where the relevant clues aren't within a 20-30 foot radius of the crime scene. While your average criminal isn't a genius, I'm shocked to see how much evidence there is that tying a person to a particular act, whether it's recepits or letters or books etc.

    2.) Interrogation. I'm a Data Analyst by trade, but I've seen enough movies to watch the eyes to determine if you're being told a truth or a lie. Some characters are ridiculously easy to read, some are much harder. This is probably built to be this way, but you can review what clues you have on hand an match to the answers of your *POI if paying close attention to their eyes doesn't work. But, if you take too long your *POI will remark on how long this is taking and could possibly leave.
    * POI means Person of Interest

    3) Driving (not really a depth issue, but an issue nonethless.) I swear this game has the dumbest AI when it comes to drivers or pedestrians I've seen in any game. The siren (if you're in a cop car) seems to have a radius of about 1 foot. You'll speed through intersections only to be T-boned by a car on your left. Pedestrians will walk right in front of you while you're driving or chasing a suspect. You can here them say where a fleeing suspect went, or various pro-police phrases, but it doesn't help when they're preventing me from pursuing by running into me. Or my favorite when coming out of an alley, a pedestrian who reacts to me approaching them like I'm about to run them over when I'm 10 feet away, yet recovers from their frantic action only to walk right in front of me again.

    100% Game Completion achievement. You can get this without DLC contrary to some posts I've read. You have to get every car, newspaper, film reel, seen every landmark and complete all 21 story cases to get this. The car thing is by far the worst. I spent hours entering every car I could find without making any headway. The 95th car type, I swear, didn't appear until around hour 30 of me playing the game.

    That being said I did enjoy the game, I'd highly recommend a rental not a buy. After beating a case and getting a five star rating (meaning every interrogation question was answered correctly, every clue found and little vehicle, property or civilian damage) there's no need to play it again as everything is exactly the same as previous (except for drving between locations.) The only replayabiity this game has is DLC cases, which essentialy means to play more you have to pay more.
  • PBreezeyPBreezey146,365
    28 Jun 2011 28 Jun 2011
    17 4 2
    L.A. Noire is the most recent release from Rockstar Studios, and was developed by Team Bondi. The story follows an up and coming detective named Cole Phelps and his rise through the ranks of the LAPD. L.A. Noire has had the most hype of any game to come out in 2011 thus far. But can Rockstar and Bondi deliver and follow in the footsteps of other Rockstar titles like GTA and Red Dead Redemption?

    Cole Phelps is a former marine, freshly returned from fighting at Okinawa. While there, he was honored with the Silver Star for his bravery in combat. Cole returns to his wife and kids, and becomes a member of the LAPD. The game follows his trials and tribulations while working on the Patrol Desk, Traffic Desk, Homicide Desk, and Arson Desk. There are a total of 21 cases that Phelps will work, in addition to 40 street crimes he and his partner can respond to at any time during the game. In addition to the cases there are other collectibles throughout the game as well, 95 cars that can be driven, 50 golden film reels to be collected, and 13 newspapers as well.

    Gameplay and Controls
    The game feels very good. The controls are all very responsive, and playing the game is very fun. Whether you're driving a car, involved in a gun fight, or chasing suspect down the alleyways of LA, everything handles very nicely. I remember in GTA IV, driving cars for me was like puling teeth. The same does not hold true with L.A. Noire. Driving is actually quite fun, and even when you don't feel like driving, there is a fast travel option that will allow your partner to drive and skip to your destination (much like the fast travel system in Red Dead Redemption). However, the core gameplay is not anything new or innovative. It feels like a Rockstar game, which is in no way a bad thing. But, it's also not extremely new or innovative until you get to experience the new interrogation/interview system that has been added to this game.

    The interview system in L.A. Noire is, to me, the highlight of the game and one of the most interesting game mechanics that has been added to any game ever. Being a detective, it is your job to successfully interview and interrogate various suspects who hold vital information for your investigations. With every question you ask there are three options with which you can respond to their answers: (1) Truth, you accept their answer and assume they are truthful. (2) Doubt, you feel that they are lying but have no hard evidence to support your claim. (3) Lie, you know that they are lying due to the evidence that you have collected. Assuming that you pick the correct response to their statement, they will tell you more information that will lead your towards your ultimate goal: the truth. However, L.A. Noire's biggest triumph also carries some of its biggest flaws.

    The main problem with the interrogations is that the results of your interviews don't really matter. Yes, it is true that not getting all of the correct answers can leave you with a feeling that you put the wrong person behind bars. But, it in no way impedes your progress through the game. All of the story's twists and turns, the good guys and bad guys, everything that occurs is going to happen no matter how well you perform on a case. Your commanding officer normally doesn't even care as long as you found someone to pin the crime on and put behind bars. It's just kind of disappointing. With games being developed where your every action affects the world around you, L.A. Noire seems to be well behind the times. It would even be more satisfying if you completely failed the case and were forced to start over rather than just being given a pat on the back and allowed to continue on to botch the next case.

    The other innovative gameplay aspect of L.A. Noire is the evidence collection process that you conduct at every crime scene. Whether you're collecting an actual murder weapon, or a pamphlet that will lead you to your next suspect, nearly everything you examine in someway pertains to your case and can be used at a later point in time to prove that your suspect is lying. Once again though, this fun new mechanic also has some issues with it. The main problem is the fact that finding the clues is very simple. Most of the time, based on your case, you are going to have some notion as to what you are looking for. That's not what makes it easy though... What makes it easy is the fact that there is music that plays in the background whenever you arrive to the scene and this music stops once you have found all of the clues. Not only that, but every clue vibrates and chimes as well whenever you pass over it. You can turn this option off, but then finding every clue is too hard. There's no happy medium here. It's just kind of weird.

    Another gameplay mechanic that I'm not a fan of is the fact that you can skip any "action sequence" if you die multiple times while attempting it. This includes gun fights and chase sequences that may be vital to progression. I just don't like the fact that you can skip over something just because you die a few times. Games are supposed to be challenging, but some of the features of L.A. Noire take away any type of challenge at all.

    Visuals and Sound
    The graphics, soundtrack, and voice acting present in L.A. Noire are impeccable and are light years beyond some of the games that are coming out on the market. With the new facial recognition technology that Team Bondi used, the player is teleported into an immersive and stunning world. The only reason this game works as well as it does is this new technology that Bondi used. The interrogation system is clearly the game mechanic that relies most heavily on it, and it’s amazing. From a furled brow to a shifting sideways glance, L.A. Noire perfectly captures the human experience.

    The soundtrack is a perfect compliment to the visuals created by L.A. Noire. The developers did an amazing job creating a soundtrack that really enhanced every environment that you enter. With varying audio tracks for crime scenes, car chases, shootouts, and interrogations, the soundtrack of this game can really draw the player into the world.

    In addition to the soundtrack, the voice acting in the game is also great. Team Bondi did a great job casting the various players for the story that they were creating, and the voice acting further enhances the amazing world that L.A. Noire delivers to the player.

    The game has a total of 40 achievements, and they’re pretty fun to try to collect. There are none that are overly hard, but some of them require the same diligence that’s been seen in other Rockstar titles. I’m mainly referencing the achievements for getting all of the collectibles, 5-starring every case, and 100% game completion. My favorite achievements this game had were the ones that involved a specific action or a specific clue while working a case. Total there were 5 of these, but given the context of the game, I just thought they were really cool additions to the regular achievements. The other nice thing about this game is that none of the achievements are technically missable. The achievements may require you to play a specific case again, but it never requires a fresh playthrough of the entire story, which is nice.

    When I say worth, I’m assessing whether or not L.A. Noire is worth the original price of $60 for a new XBox 360 game. L.A. Noire definitely passes the test. Depending on overall thoroughness, the first playthrough of L.A. Noire should take somewhere between 20 and 30 hours of gameplay. After that, there is still a lot to be done. Getting the game to 100% achievement completion definitely takes some time between gathering all of the collectibles, driving all of the cars, and 5-starring all of the cases. There’s a lot to be done in L.A. Noire, and it exceeds well past the initial playthrough. With DLC on its way and more sure to come, L.A. Noire will have a lot for everyone.

    Overall, L.A. Noire is one of the best games that has been released so far in 2011. Team Bondi and Rockstar put together an amazing title, that was a joy to playthrough. The major successes of the game are due to the amazing new technology that was incorporated into the game. The human experience comes to life in L.A. Noire, and it is a treat to be a part of it. However, L.A. Noire does also stumble along the way. Aspects of the game can be too simple and easy at times, and your actions overall do not bear any weight towards your overall progression through the story. Were L.A. Noire to be coming out towards the end of the year with the other heavy hitters of 2011, it still would have been a hit, but not nearly as much as it is now. Due to it’s release, L.A. Noire, Team Bondi, and Rockstar have at this point released the best game of 2011. With the eminent DLC for L.A. Noire on it’s way, L.A. Noire will definitely be one for everyone to keep in their library.

    Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5 (5 since I can't put 4.5)

    Gameplay: 4 out of 5
    Graphics and Sound: 5 out of 5
    Achievements: 4 out of 5
    Innovativeness and Creativity: 5 out of 5
    (not normally a rating, but I found it necessary for this title)
    Worth: 5 out of 5
  • CJC1303CJC130385,658
    27 May 2011
    20 8 3
    L.A. Noire probably one of the most highly anticipated games of the summer if not the year. I myself was looking forward to this game for a long time because I enjoy the experiences that Rockstar gives every player through their games. This being said I can begin to attack this review with as little spoilers, if any, possible. Also I will rate varying aspects of the game on a scale of 1 to 10

    In looking at this game I had high hopes for a cinematic experience and the game did not disappoint. The overall feeling of the game felt as if you were playing the lead character in a major motion picture. It was a satisfying feeling playing throughout the story as Cole Phelps and working your way up through the ranks of the LAPD. My major complaint with the story is that it left you feeling that they shortchanged you on how the way that the game concluded. The motion capture technology used is superb. It provides an image that feels real. The sound is amazing it makes you feel like you are living in the 1940's. With that being said here are my rankings for story, graphics and sound.

    Story: 8/10
    Graphics: 10/10
    Sound: 10/10

    My major issues with the game all lie with the actual gameplay. I felt that the gameplay was genuinely interesting for the first few cases then it just got tiresome and boring. It's fun at first looking for clues and then doing interviews and occasionally having a gunfight or chase. But after going through more than halfway through the game it just got annoying. It got to the point where I let my little sister play the story while i did something else. I feel that the gameplay hurt the game for me. I wish that it was more fun throughout the whole game but it lost its freshness for me. I understand that every game is going to have its style of gameplay but as a whole the game is supposed to keep you into it the whole game and that was not the case for me with L.A. Noire. The gameplay made it boring and I would have much rather just watched the cutscenes toward the end then play it.

    Gameplay: 6/10

    For the achievement junkies, I believe the achievements are actually pretty straight forward and rather easy to obtain. The only problem is that you will have to go through multiple times on the cases and that will get very boring and be a pain and take up a long time trying to 5 Star each case. Other than that they are rather fun.

    Achievements: 8/10

    I personally did not want to replay the game. The way the game ended was a total disappointment and I felt did not do the story justice at all. It seemed as if they just ran out of ideas on where to take the story and just abruptly ended it. That being said you will have to go through the cases again and have to relive the story and the ending over and over would annoy me. Also the lack of an actual sandbox once you beat the game and actually having to go through the cases to get everything does not help the game's replay value to me.

    Replayability: 7/10

    In the end the game was a solid effort by Team Bondi. I know I may be in the minority when I say that this game was a good game but not a great game. The ending to the story and the gameplay does not allow it to be a great game. I think that this was not on par with past Rockstar efforts Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. Though neither game has the graphics nor sound as L.A. Noire, they have it where it counts and that is the gameplay. I enjoyed the game but should have just rented it instead of buying it.

    Overall: 8/10
  • 14 4 2
    LA Noire is a game developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar. Team Bondi had been working on LA Noire for awhile before Rockstar came around to publish it. It was originally slated to be a Playstation 3 exclusive, but was changed after Rockstar came in to the story. When I started hearing about LA Noire again after the long break of hearing nothing about it, I then saw the Rockstar name attached to it. Not really knowing what LA Noire was I was fully expecting, Grand Theft Auto:Los Angeles. This is where I was totally wrong. This has the quality of a Rockstar published game with out almost any of the Grand Theft Autoness of recent Rockstar games.

    You play as, hot off World War II, Detective Cole Phelps. You are the new guy in the LAPD, and you must work your way up starting out as a beat cop and ending on Arson. Through out the game you are with a partner all different partners as you move up the LAPD ladder. As in any cop procedural you, as the new guy, are basically hated by all partners and as you work cases you gain their trust. As you get on to Vice, a late game desk, you sometimes encounter partners from older desks as the jurisdiction of different desks overlap. I thought that small touch was a great thing to add. As a fan of shows like Law and Order those type of things happen almost all the time, and it was something I was not really expecting from LA Noire. The story is the most important thing about this game. Playing this game is almost like watching an interactive Law and Order 1940. Through out the game there is a background story going on that you don’t really get to be a part of until Vice. Scattered through out the game are 13 newspapers. In these newspapers is the story from a main character in that story, not Cole Phelps.

    Now that it has been established that Team Bondi can write a good story how do they handle gameplay that can work with the story? The answer is fantastically. You ,as I mentioned later, are Cole Phelps. He is a very observant, and persuasive person. When getting a case from a desk's captain you can elect to drive to the case start spot or just hold a button and make your partner drive. Through most of the game I chose to make me partner drive. This is because at the end of the case you get a rating based on how many clues you found, how many questions you got right, and damage to the city, citizens, and cars. I am a HORRIBLE driver in video games. This is fine in Grand Theft Auto as running into people is fine as long as they are not cops. In LA Noire this is the total opposite. While running in to a car will not get you any punishment right away at the end of the case you will be chewed out by a captain if your rating is too low. Now working the case is where the game shines. As I mentioned earlier there are clues to find and questions to ask. When you finally get to the case start spot you must start looking around for clues. The game helps you through out this process as sound cues and controller rumble,if on 360 or using a Dualshock, let you know how many clues you have left, and if you are close to a clue. The clues open up questions in interrogation sequences and help ensure that you chose the correct person. The key word is “help”, as they do not totally ensure you convict the right person. In the interrogation sequences when asking questions you can choose to believe, doubt, or call a person out on a lie. In the beginning the line between Lie and Doubt is kind of hazy. Lie is meant for when you have hard evidence against what a person is saying. I for one had a few times where I thought I had hard evidence against a person, but the evidence I thought I had did not prove what they wanted me to prove. In a situation like that it would have been best to choose doubt. Doubt is supposed to be used when you believe some one is holding something back or that you believe someone is lying but you do not have hard evidence. The problem with that is that there is only one answer to each question. If you miss a piece of evidence that would needed to be used to call someone out on their lie you automatically miss that question, there is no getting around that and getting them to tell you the truth there. Out side of the main story there are side cases to do. These can range from car chases to straight up shoot outs. All the side cases have way more set up then I thought they would. They seem integrated into the world well as some of them will even take you to real world landmarks.

    The entire reason the Truth, Doubt, Lie gameplay feature works is because of the incredible technology Team Bondi created. The technology they created is a new way to capture the faces of the actors playing characters in the game. This feature has been the main talking point of LA Noire for as long as I can remember. As I was playing through the game there were many points were I recognized the face of people that I have seen from other shows and movies I have watched before. One example is while in Arson one of your suspects is a friend of Francis from Malcolm in the Middle. From what I have gathered they use up to thirty cameras to capture the performance of the actor or actress playing the part. The crazy part is every person in the game world has the facial technology of the main characters. In an open world game with many people in it, it is pretty crazy that all people have the same quality faces. It would have been easy for Team Bondi to skimp on the faces of non-important characters. The world in LA Noire is full fleshed out. Team Bondi worked with many different people to get 1947 Los Angles time era appropriate. There are many era accurate depiction of LA landmarks and over 90 different vehicles from the 1940's On the 360 version, the one I played, it ships on 3 discs while the Playstation 3 version ships on one Btu-Ray disc. On the 360 the disc swapping could have been handled better. They made the switched one case in to what ever desk they were going to have the switch during. I would have had them make me switch at the start of a desk not once case in to. The reason there are three discs on 360 is the facial technology. All three discs were filled to capacity and adding almost anything else would have to be pushed to a fourth disc. I believe disc swapping has been dealt with better than it was in Dead Space 2. In Dead Space 2 half the single player and all of the multiplayer was put on the first disc and the rest of the single player was put on the second disc. At least in LA Noire they did not try to shove in unneeded multiplayer. I am a person that thinks not all games need multiplayer and it is great to know some developers are on the same page as me.

    Overall LA Noire was a surprise to me. Rockstar not forcing Team Bondi to Grand Theft Auto this up is respectable. Team Bondi was purchased by Rockstar, I believe that Team Bondi, along with Rockstar, will have a long and respectable life. What worries me is someone from Rockstar mentioning that LA Noire would make a good franchise. While I would love to see more LA Noire I do not want this to turn in to a yearly or even bi-yearly title. LA Noire clocks in at around 20 hours for the single player and there is enough incentive to go back and play cases to get the best rating. In my opinion this is a game all people must play, and must realize it is not just Grand Theft Auto: LA.
  • LumpyCustard123LumpyCustard123257,772
    06 Jun 2011 14 Oct 2012
    15 5 1
    After roughly 18hrs of playing, LA Noire reached its conclusion. I played at a fairly leisurely pace, taking in around half of the side missions and finding a few of the hidden vehicles. Which brings me neatly along to the first point I'd like to make...

    The vehicle handling is far too sharp, far too responsive, for vehicles of this era. I was expecting something along the lines of Mafia 2 in this respect, but was left disappointed. It wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that it has been "dumbed down", along with the shooting and chase sections, to appease the casual gamer. There are also a worrying number of graphical and framerate issues, on the Xbox at least (I can't speak for the PS3 version). I frequently witnessed cars appearing and disappearing right in front of me, building pop-up which I haven't seen since the days of GTA: Vice City, and inexplicable vehicle collision physics. Cars would frequently fling themselves into the air after a miniscule impact, others would disintegrate after the slightest touch, while some vehicles you give chase to seem to sidestep along the tarmac, as if they have those beach-ball wheels from Will Smith's Audi in I ,Robot!

    The story, while very much appealing to my taste in movies, is at times left undeveloped, such as the relationship between Phelps and his wife. Perhaps that particular decision was an intentional omission, to hint at Phelp's disinterest in his family. At other times, the game evokes memories of L.A. Confidential, through its seedy, brooding plotlines, ambiguous main character(s) and atmosphere; and the Coen brothers' Miller's Crossing, with its snappy banter and surreal humour.

    The MotionScan facial animations are staggering, every bit as good as has been said. The interrogations, for me, are by far the best thing about the game - they can be genuinely tense and difficult. The player models otherwise are scarcely better than the likes of Red Dead Redemption, but MotionScan is certainly a literal game-changer.

    Overall, L.A. Noire is undoubtedly a step forward for games, but has a catalogue of flaws. The driving and on-foot sections have been done better elsewhere, in Mafia 2 and GTA4 respectively, but that facial technology and a strong narrative truly distinguishes it from the rest.
  • Balsin FaseBalsin Fase162,116
    01 Aug 2011
    10 1 0
    To say that I’m surprised that every game store in North America wasn’t razed to the ground the day after L.A. Noire was released is an understatement. I mean, imagine every Grand Theft Auto-playing lunkhead in town all lining up for the next Rockstar game, one irate parent standing beside each one of them because no one over the age of seventeen actually likes this crap any more. They get home, put on their Diego pjs that their grandma also bought for them that day, and dive neck deep into…evidence gathering and interviews? Getting in trouble for running people over? Helping hookers? What gives? Why is that thing between my ears hurting when I try to play?

    L.A. Noire is not a typical Rockstar game, but it does have many of the usual trappings. You get a giant world that is absolutely pointless and just makes it hard to get anywhere quickly, a huge selection of cars, and a selection of collectables that are have no use whatsoever and are hidden with such cruelty you will wonder if Hitler’s cartographer is still alive and well. All of that will feel very familiar to someone who’s played their games over the years.

    But L.A. Noire is so different from any other game they’ve made that you will wonder how it could have been made by the same people. The secret is that, deep down, this game is a text adventure. At most, it’s just a really pretty looking point and click game, but without any mouse to make things simpler.

    For the most part, you will start off any given case by showing up at the scene of the crime. Once there, you’re expected to rifle around through the stuff that’s there, trying to find any evidence that will help your case. The controller will vibrate when you get near something that might be of interest, and the key word there is might. There is a lot of stuff at any given scene, and most of it is useless. When it tells you something, your character will talk out loud about it, and the music on the scene will also stop to tell you that you’ve found everything. If you want it to be closer to real police work, though, you can shut the musical and vibration hints off. You can also probably have someone come into your room and try to kill you every few hours too, but that would at least be easier than having no hints.

    It’s kind of cool to watch the case take shape with each piece of evidence you find, but it can be hard to tell if you’ve looked at something from the right angle. Sometimes your character will say that the item isn’t useful, but not every time. Now, you can also manipulate objects to look over them for more clues, but sometimes you don’t turn something over in just the right way to get the clue, and you are not counted as having seen it. This can also happen in certain ledgers where you have to tap the right spot with your finger. You can end up stuck in one spot for a long time just from not tapping the right place.

    Getting that out of the way gets you into the really great part of this game, the interviews. You’re given sets of questions when you interrogate each suspect, and you are given the option to trust them, accuse them of lying, or doubt what they’re saying (You do this when you don’t believe them, but can’t prove it). Now, sometimes you have evidence to contradict what the person is saying, but the real meat of this game is in watching the character’s faces to look for any tells. New technology was invented for this game to track faces, which gives an interesting way of telling if someone is lying to you. Maybe they won’t meet your eyes, maybe they smirk a little bit, maybe they lick their lips. What they do when they are talking is just as important as what they’re saying, and watching them closely takes some getting used to. It’s really cool to pick up on someone’s lies just from watching their eyes, though, and it’s definitely something you need to try for yourself.

    Catching lies is a little bit hard, though, as it kind of falls under text adventure logic. You might think a piece of evidence would crack the person at that moment, but the game developers have final say on whether it works or not. If the game’s writer didn’t feel the same way, then you fail that question. Tough luck. It’s kind of a drag, since there were many times when I felt like what I was presenting should have worked in the situation, but the limits of the medium don’t exactly let me argue my case, do they? It’s the one stumbling block for a process that feels like it’s built on pretty solid logic.

    You won’t stay too mad at it, because the story in this game is excellent. When you’re facing this much dialogue in a game, you need it to be good, and all of the actors did an amazing job. Cole Phelps comes across as elitist right from the get-go, and as the game pans out you get to see all sorts of consequences of his actions. Also, there is a side-story going on about his service during World War II that won’t seem to have much point at first, but really fills out the story by the end. In fact, almost all of these cases will seem isolated as you work them, but they almost all tie in to the last few missions in a surprising way. It’s a long haul and a slow boil, but if you like crime stories in any way, you will always want to know more.

    But there had to be something for the GTA kids, right? Well, there are shootouts in the game, all locked to specific locations. The controls are probably the most solid for them than in any other GTA game, and give you a little break every once in a while from talking. The same goes for street chases, as every once in a while, a suspect tries to get away and you have to chase them. These can make for some fun car and foot chases, but they all feel kind of the same after a while. You just start rolling your eyes when someone makes a run for it. Ditto for the hand-to-hand sequences. The brawling is pretty straightforward, where you just wait for them to stop punching and then hit them back. Rinse and repeat. The engines for these all work well, but you can tell their heart just wasn’t in those points. They weren’t what the game was about.

    It’s a pretty cool text adventure game, but I really doubt if a lot of people knew what they were buying when they picked it up. From a company that normally makes fast-paced crime games, this slow and story-heavy game must have taken a lot of people by surprise. For people who are interested in seeing new technology at work for the first time, though, it’s a real treat. For all of the little niggles in doing police work, when things come together, you really get drawn in. I played it for every single waking moment I could, and if you’re willing to give it a shot, I imagine you will too.
  • AKFH AssassinAKFH Assassin137,244
    17 Sep 2013
    7 3 0
    L.A. Noire is one of the most addictive games that I have played in a very long time.

    To put it simply, I wasn't very sure what I was going to be getting into when I picked up this game a few days ago, I grabbed it off the shelf of a trade-in-game store and got my hands on the complete edition. I was skeptical, the clerk told me his opinion, which wasn't very supportive.

    I am going to hit some of the major areas I think are important for this game. I am going to give a straight up, no dodging some facts that would worsen the game.

    Game play.
    Rock star games are known for their over the top game-play. I am of course referring to the GTA franchise, and Red Dead Redemption. This has shown us that Rock star is not afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone, and tackling multiple frontiers and time periods, and they do it exceptionally well. The biggest problem this could cause is that all of their games have been very action packed, and have a large amount of shooting and action packed, adrenaline. L.A. Noire, doesn't. L.A. Noire, you go around doing the hard job of solving murders, car thefts, and other crimes. This through off my friend as he sat next to me watching me play this title. "Where's all the action, the shooting?" He asked me. L.A. Noire is restrictive on their gun-play. From the fact that the only times that you pull a gun, are in suspect pursuits, and the handful of 'raids' where you take out warehouses of criminals. I personally was able to over look this, but this fact alone could discourage players. Most times you will be interviewing, and searching for clues. A good memory will serve you good, and attention to detail will also serve invaluable. I really hope that this covers the general feel of game-play.

    Graphic Performance
    The graphics is L.A. Noire's strong suit. The facial animation for this title is absolutely the best on the market. If you're doubting this, go look at game-play, even in non-cut-scene moments, the characters face moves fluidly, and humanly. The city itself, and its inhabitants and vehicles look smooth, and I really do enjoy the atmosphere that the game produces. It isn't over the top, but not to simplistic. It feels real.

    Overall, the game is very good. If you have the patience, pick this game up.
  • SebastianSBSebastianSB195,934
    05 Jul 2011 13 Jul 2011
    13 9 0
    Quickie Review: L.A. Noire

    I’ve heard L.A. Noire be referred to as the triumphant return of the adventure game, and that’s not far off. You follow war hero Cole Phelps as he rises and falls through the ranks of the LAPD. The story is told in three parts interwoven among each other: Phelps’ current situation, memory flashes from the war, and the behind-the-scenes actions of one of his ex-comrades (told through collectible newspapers). The story is brought to life by complex characters with remarkably realistic facial animations (made possible by Depth Analysis’ MotionScan). I won’t say much about the story itself, but the acting is very well done and the missions are solid. The ending may leave you with mixed feelings.

    The gameplay mostly comprises of searching for clues at crime scenes and then using them as evidence as you interview suspects and witnesses. This is usually fun, but some of the environments have a tediously large number of interactive objects that don’t move the case forward and some conversations simply don’t fit the Truth/Doubt/Lie system. A handful of the cases seem impossible to five star without using a guide or getting a few lucky guesses. Sometimes you’re supposed to guess whether someone is lying or telling the truth when they say “blow it off, greenhorn. You’ll get nothing from me.” At other times you might have evidence that you feel would be very damning for the person that you’re interviewing, but there’s no way to convey that to the game. It’s either an acceptable response or it isn’t, and it’s not up for debate (for obvious reasons). It can get to the point where you feel like you’re dealing with that infamous adventure game logic where you need to just rub items together and see what the game does with them.

    The setting is meticulously constructed and a joy to experience, but the elongated map can lead to some very long drives. You can have your partner drive as a form of fast travel, but the developers included an achievement that requires you to drive almost 200 miles on your own. The shape of the map also hinders the street crimes, a series of small side missions that appear while you’re driving around. In many cases your next main objective could be a mere minute away when you get called about a street crime that will require a ten minute round trip.

    Chase scenes and gun fights are scattered throughout the story missions. They’re generally short, but they can add a very welcome jolt to the game that keeps it from becoming repetitive.

    It was all a pretty interesting experiment. Can you make a continuous and memorable storyline about a cop? Gut instincts would say no because they’re generally a string of unrelated cases, but Rockstar found a way. Better yet, DLC can fit into any part of the game and make perfect sense with the canon because that’s simply what their job entails. Just remember that this isn’t Grand Theft Auto V. This is a free-roam detective story that just happens to have some action in it, not an action game with puzzles thrown in. If you enjoy exploring video games’ ability to tell a story then you’re in for a fun but flawed adventure.

    Ranting While Playing: L.A. Noire

    Clarification on my Game Scoring
  • iksolokosiksolokos157,080
    17 Jul 2011 18 Jul 2011
    9 6 2
    Rockstar and Team Bondi's colaborative project will go down as a revolutionary, unprecedented video game that has changed interactive storytelling forever. LA Noire is everything we want in a game, and then some.

    1947 Los Angeles. The war is over, veterans are home and all is well. Or so we thought. In fact, LA was one of the most crime ridden cities in the country post-war. We take control of Cole Phelps, an Okinawa veteran and supposed "war hero." Phelps rises through the ranks of the LAPD quickly, clearing the Patrol, Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson desks during his career. Unfortunately, the game's main plot doesn't really develop until you reach Vice, which is around 15-20 hours into the game. The story is great, but it took far too long to take off, and it wasn't properly developed throughout the game.

    Team Bondi set a new standard for the open world genre. 90% of LA is faithfully recreated, right down to ads on the sides of buildings. The city is a living, breathing place that can certainly drag you in. The sounds are also spot on and the soundtrack is great.

    Side missions and extras are a given in any Rockstar title and LA Noire is no different. There are 95 unique, true to life cars in the game, which you must find and drive. There are also, "street crimes", which occur at different times and vary from saving a hostage, to chasing fleeing criminals, to stopping a bank robbery in progress. Each crime is unique, complete with their own cutscenes. In fact, while working Vice, you must actually solve a mini homicide case.

    LA Noire is a fantastic game that lived up to all the hype. It's only flaw is the lack of a solid story for the first 50-60% of the game. It still earns 5 stars and a "must buy" rating, albeit, just barely.

    **EDIT** For the down voters out there, please drop me a message or comment below and tell me why this was a thumbs down in your opinion. I am always looking for ways to improve my writing, so if you find something wrong, please let me know so I can try to improve on it. Thank you.
  • 16 15 5
    A dark and violent crime thriller, set against the backdrop of 1940's Los Angeles and utilizing revolutionary new facial animation technology. L.A. Noire blends the breathtaking action of chases and shootouts with true detective work including tnterrogations and clue-finding, as newly-minted officer Cole Phelps embarks on a desperate search for truth in a city where everyone has somthing to hide.


    When I first saw this game on a gaming website, it never really made me think this would be good. Well, my intensions were all open for this game, it only kept me occupied for the first half. I did play through the thing and was not proud of what Rockstar had been working on for the last few years.


    The storyline drops mid-game, but was quite pleased with how it played through. The story was nothing spectacular and was quite predicdable for me. For some weird reason, I want to review each case as a seperate story, then they would all be amazing, but it was shipped as one.



    This might the hardest part about this whole review. The game felt, for the lack of a better word, repetitive, and I know i'm not the only one who has said this. There are some action sequences, chasing down bad guys, gun fights, and chases. But thats really it, other than the cases. Once you have played through this game once, what the point of playing again, unless you do not know the questions, and the clues. I found some parts extremely easy and not so much challenging.



    This was amazing, if I bought a game to look at scenery, and people talk. I will reconize this as the best part of the game, some of the most amzing game graphics I have ever seen. The voice acting is dead on, thats all to say.



    I'm supprised to never see something like this in a review, but is not the reason we play games in the first place. This game did not bring its fun factor. Repetitive gameplay, and almost no replay value, and no multiplayer, I would get this as a rental only.




    visit my site for upcoming reviews
  • LeftTheHouse 5GLeftTheHouse 5G147,317
    04 Jun 2011
    9 11 0
    On the whole a perfectly executed game polished off with flawless in-game detail. A game worth buying for those who find adversity through mind-boggling challenges and riddles. So overall with slight monotony and somewhat but infrequent 'glitchy' gameplay a solid 9/10 will be quite rightly awarded by myself. Rockstar have delivered yet another outstanding game to add to their simultaneously successful collection. I found the fight to the complete 1200G was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've shared with my beloved games. An arduos game to complete without the use of a trusty guide. Do not feel ashamed to use a guide as you will encounter a few facial expression related throw offs. What can you say? People will go to ridiculous extents and keep straight faces to evade 'The Fuzz' !!!! laugh
  • 8 11 0
    History: Never seen a trailer, saw all it's promotion through Gamestop wasn't too excited about it, didn't look like my type of game. Then I saw some gameplay videos and thought it was great and had to try it myself.

    Story: Not much of a solid story here apart from your advancement within the LAPD and the overhanging backstory that appears occasionally telling about Phelp's marine corps. days.

    Game play: The gameplay was fantastic it was really good. Being able to process a crime scene at will. If you missed a clue you wern't walking around the scene for hours on end trying to find something if you thought you were done, you were. Not finding clue still didn't rule out the charge at the end and if you do this without guides it can really challenge you.

    Graphics: Quite good, the random people encountered throughout the game were made really well. one thing I did notice is that people's throats move in the game not just their mouth. I don't know how this corresponds to other games but one tidbit I did see.

    Audio: Can't say much about this, but I'd say it was good.

    - Being able to process a crime scene at free will and not have a checklist of what to do.
    - If you're bored of the story, there's free roam available with side missions and car collecting.
    - Great mysteries in the crime scene really challenge your thinking to charge the correct person.

    - If you don't install the game, half of your time will be spent waiting for it to load.
    - The story can get repetitive and boring by the time you get to Vice Desk.

    Overall: Great game, gameplay was great, the crimes to solve were like something you'd find off Criminal Minds. My problem was that it was the same structure, murder here murder there, death and you had to solve it. The stories may have been different but toward the end it gets a little tedious continuing.

    Your Score: 8/10 - Great would definitely recommend.
  • SlackerchanSlackerchan236,968
    21 May 2011 22 May 2011
    22 26 12

    Close to eight years ago a team of Australian game developers came together under the guidance of Brendan McNamara, a former creative director for Sony Computer Entertainment’s Soho studio and the man responsible for the story of The Getaway. Team Bondi, as it came to be called, began work on a title that did not see the light of day for many years, only being hinted in stock reports and offhand mentions. While Rockstar, Team Bondi’s publisher, was slaving away on a new game engine and two concepts that became 2008’s Grand Theft Auto IV and 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, waiting quietly in the wings was a game that, until last year, almost no one knew about: LA Noire.

    After seven years though does Team Bondi’s freshman effort live up to the high expectations players have for a Rockstar title? Beware dear reader as the following review’s section regarding the story is filled to the brim with spoilers that normally wouldn’t be discussed but, in this particular case, it is a crucial topic of debate.

    Circumstantial Evidence
    The Post-war years in the 1940s was a time in which the foundations of a great economic boom were laid in the United States. Returning soldiers from Europe and the Pacific came home to start families, buy houses, and experience the freedom they had fought for overseas. From these returning heroes came what was eventually called the Baby Boomer generation which grew up and subsequently both experienced and help lay the course for the social revolution of the 50s and 60s.

    Post-war America however wasn’t one full of peace. Racial segregation was still in full swing and organized crime was almost as powerful as it was during the Prohibition era. Many returning soldiers found themselves unable to find work and so many more were having trouble coping with the horrors of war. In the war on crime Los Angeles was one of the frontline cities and, in a city filled with corruption, a hero was needed.

    This call to arms was answered by Cole Phelps, a returning GI officer who fought in the Okinawa campaign, received the Silver Star and was shipped home early after being wounded in combat. LA Noire’s story begins in 1947 as Phelps earns his stripes as a patrolman. As Phelps continues to go the extra mile to help solve cases detectives normally would he eventually gets his chance and becomes a full detective.

    From here Cole’s story follows a linear progression as he rises through the ranks, starting out at the Traffic Desk before moving on to Homicide, Vice, and then Arson. Each Desk consists of several cases that Cole and his partner are assigned to investigate. While the initial cases as a patrolman serve as a tutorial for the rest of the game, the Traffic Desk is the only desk in which the crimes committed are not inter-connected. While I won’t go into details regarding the plots of each case most involve a certain amount of premeditation that weaves an intricate tale of love, greed, or both. The Homicide, Vice, and Arson cases each have particularly interesting and nicely done stories, the Homicide Desk being noteworthy for making suppositions and a narrative for one of the most famous unsolved murder cases in US history.

    The problems with the game’s narrative don’t begin with or particularly pertain to the stories of the cases you investigate so much as they concern themselves with our main character. As the title of the game should imply, a noir setting is mostly a character study about how one acts and develops overtime in reaction to the events of a story. While I don’t have much experience with the genre I believe I can say that many of the films that fit into the term “noir” meet this general definition. LA Noire, a game which seems to want to live up to this meaning, unfortunately doesn’t.
    Throughout the course of the game you play as Cole as he and his partner, who is determined by the Desk he is assigned to, travel around the Los Angeles of 1947 in an effort to solve the mysterious crimes and deaths that seem to plague the city. Unlike Nico Bellic and John Marston before him though Cole Phelps’s character is not given the definition it deserves. Many implications are made with his character that does not reflect in his actions and demeanor in a believable way. For example, despite being married with two children and almost living the proverbial American Dream very little is mentioned about them. Only through cutscenes interspersed between cases that detail his efforts in World War II does one learn anything about his character beyond his stout, straight-forward business focus. The result is a character not far removed from the Joe Friday character from Dragnet.

    Phelps’ character really starts to take an incongruent turn during the Homicide Desk. After a six month jump forward (during which the deleted and possibly returning Burglary Desk takes place) Phelps joins Homicide and spends his evenings off the beat at a night club where he has become enamored with Elsa Lichtman, the main entertainer. To say that such a shift from a family man to that of a cheating husband in a standup character like Phelps is startling is putting the term lightly. Later on Cole’s adultery is discovered by the department (the details of who does so I won’t disclose) which costs him his marriage, his children, and his desk as he suspended and demoted.

    The main problem to be had with this is that it just doesn’t come across in a plausible fashion. Had the six month period between the Traffic and Homicide desks been detailed and exposed his falling in love with Elsa I would feel more for the character and understand his actions. However, since that large span of time is missing from the game (again, currently) not enough is learned by the player to allow it to be reasonable. As the story develops from this point though a strong implication is made in Cole’s behavior that, in my opinion, would have lead to a more plausible scenario of him faking his love and intentionally getting demoted in order to prove the existence of the conspiracy that ties together the second half of the game.

    From the beginning of the Arson desk to the end the game it seems that Phelp’s character has been thrown to the wolves and this is made in no more apparent a fashion than when Cole is locked out of an investigation and a new main protagonist is introduced: Jack Kelso, a former comrade-in-arms of Cole’s and his most bitter, distanced friend. From here Kelso begins his own investigation into the conspiracy which eventually brings together both he and Cole to round out the game’s ending. During the three cases Kelso experiences it seems like he receives more character development than Phelps does in his eighteen. It is almost as if, three quarters of the way through development, Team Bondi decided that they’d had enough with the Phelps character and decided to start anew. Bad move, Bondi, bad move.

    The development of Cole Phelps’ character throughout the course of LA Noire just seems to be a missed opportunity for exploring a character that deserves more than a blunt role in the story, especially since the morality and focus of the character is set in stone and cannot be altered by the player. One can only hope that the inevitable DLC for the game actually expands on Cole Phelps or, in a more ideal scenario, retcons much of the plot but I feel this is unlikely to happen. Hopefully Team Bondi will learn from this mistake with their sophomore effort.

    The Big Heat
    Detective games of a triple-A caliber are few and far between these days as the genre has been relegated to licensed properties and smaller, less funded developers. It is saddening to think that a genre of games once so popular have fallen by the wayside but LA Noire helps to fill in this gap in a badly needed way, especially considering that the last game to have a strong detective element was Condemned 2. In light of this welcoming addition though we are presented with an unusually difficult challenge, one that pertains to one of the games most prominent features.

    Gameplay in LA Noire can be summed up to three distinctive types of play: investigation, action sequences, and interrogation. Each case you begin involves receiving the assignment from your watch officer upon which you must drive down to the crime scene. Upon arrival you need to routinely check with the medical examiner and search the area (and body) for clues to what happened. Given the size of some crime scenes it can be a bit difficult at first to locate all the pieces of evidence but the game by default alerts you where a clue is as well as when all of them have been cataloged. From the facts gathered you are sent to your next location where you must obtain more information to formulate a theory.

    LA Noire’s action sequences usually devolve into either chases (be it on foot or car) or into direct combat. Chase sequences in the game play out much like you’d expect they would and, in the former case, can be ended by a scripted event of a fistfight. Chases can also be ended prematurely if the you can catch up to the suspect and tackle him or if you can keep a targeting reticule on them for a long enough time for Cole to fire a warning shot from his weapon. Should your suspect turn violent you either engage them in hand-to-hand combat or are sucked into a gunfight. In either case, veteran GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption players will feel right at home as the cover system and gunplay are virtually the same.

    The most talked about aspect of LA Noire though has to be the interrogation sequences littered like confetti throughout the course of the story. During each case you can expect to talk with several people and question them about aspects of a crime and the player is forced to determine if what they have to say is either true, false, or if they are holding back information. Choosing the correct answer lands the player experience points whereas the wrong one can lead to the dismissal of crucial pieces of information if not outright causing the character responsible for the crime to get away scot free. Thanks to the game’s superb facial animations you can really tell whether a person is telling the truth or not but the determination of whether a suspect is telling a lie or is simply holding back information can be a very daunting task. It is herein that the Noire’s primary gameplay problem comes into focus.

    More often than not you’ll find that a question that is asked doesn’t really yield itself to doubt/lie scenario. In order to back up an accusation of lying to the police Cole must prove this with pieces of evidence discovered throughout the course of the investigation. Unfortunately though, unless you’ve been paying exorbitantly close attention to the details of the case or happen to have outside knowledge of the case in question it still can be hard to see where to lead the conversation. Usually the safest bet is to insinuate a lie when you know the interviewee is not telling the truth, find out what is exchanged and, if what Phelps or the suspect’s line doesn’t match up with the evidence you’ve collected thus far, you choose the doubt option. Even with this strategy it still can be tough to actually determine which the correct response is.

    Several cases throughout the course of the game leave you with two viable suspects instead of one. In these scenarios it is acceptable to charge either suspect of the crime in question but therein lay a couple moral quandaries. Choosing the perceived wrong suspect can lead to a lower overall case score as well as a thorough butt chewing by your boss so you have to choose wisely. In this regard though you almost always have to choose the politically correct suspect even when the facts of the case dictate otherwise. One such example later in the game involved multiple crime scenes though only one actually involved fatalities. Two likely suspects were brought in and each, by way of examining the evidence, were by all accounts guilty of their respected crimes. However, given that you can only charge one suspect and not both you have to choose which one goes to jail and which one goes free. I found it particularly frustrating that I couldn’t charge each person individually as they both deserved to be punished. Hopefully charges can be brought to multiple suspects should another Noire title arrive in the future but I’m not crossing my fingers.

    Angels with Filthy Souls

    One of the more thought-provoking aspects of LA Noire is in the game’s overall design. Contrary to what the game is publically perceived to be, especially since it is a title published by Rockstar, it isn’t actually a sandbox game. If a term had to be applied to it I would say that LA Noire is instead an open world game with a directed narrative rather than a go anywhere, do anything title like Grand Theft Auto.

    The reason why this term is more applicable to LA Noire than sandbox is because of the game’s overall gameplay structure. Rather than progressing in real time and at your own pace Noire instead has no downtime between cases and automatically begins the next one as soon as you exit the case results screen. Between visiting crime scenes and various sites where you have to talk to witnesses and suspects you can pretty much go all around Los Angeles doing almost anything you want aside from actually opening fire on civilians. Other than this there is no real moment in the game’s story in which you are left to your own devices. The only way to actually do so is to select the option from the main menu which is disappointing because 1940s Los Angeles offers an excellent chance to explore a period in our history that deserves more than a small spotlight between World War II and the Korean War.

    This is especially confusing given the large amount of exploration available. Los Angeles was beautifully recreated in the growing and wonderful trend of period pieces showing us the past in a way that wasn’t accessible to many people before. The game features thirty major landmarks to explore such as the iconic central library building, McArthur Park (renamed for the famous general while in the middle of the war) and even the La Brea tar pits. The streets of the largest city on the West Coast are amazing in accuracy and Team Bondi should be praised like no other before it for their meticulous recreation that truly makes me feel like I’m experiencing what it really was like.

    Ubisoft, you are on notice: you are no longer the kings of the period recreation.

    Sunset Boulevard
    LA Noire is a game that is more than just a game: it is an experience. Rockstar titles have always been known for pushing the boundaries on what a video game could (or should) be like and Team Bondi’s efforts continue this important legacy. While the story of Cole Phelps ends in a way that is neither satisfying nor expected what we do receive is a great introduction into how a small, young team of developers could make us reconsider where games stand when it comes to detail and recreation. The game has a bright future ahead of it if Team Bondi can deliver on the rumored return of entire desks and more story-based downloadable content then we could see the rise of one of the next great franchises.

    Oh, and Team Bondi: a request. If you decide to make a spiritual sequel please set it in Chicago during Prohibition. The mobster angle has been explored to death in this regard but I want to see it from a good guy’s perspective.
  • Fiendish5022Fiendish5022105,360
    30 Sep 2012
    1 7 3
    L.A. Noire is an interesting game. Before knowing anything about the game, one would probably conclude that this game will be nothing more than a GTA clone set in the 1940s. However, this game is so much more - and little - than that.

    Players take the role of Cole Phelps, a beat cop with lots of ambition. The core gameplay element of the game is the interrogation system. Team Bondi has created probably the most lifelike character images in video games today. These ultra real faces are used within the game to determine whether or not a person is lying or telling the truth. Cole's job is to track down clues, find a suspect and determine if the suspect is telling the truth. This part of the game is fun, unique and engaging.

    Where the game suffers is the lack of exploration. Essentially, Cole will almost always be driving from the police station to the crime scene to a suspect's home and back to the police station. Players aren't allowed to enter any homes unless they are part of the crime quest line. This makes for slightly redundant a repetitive game play.

    The setting is recreated almost perfectly. There are almost 100 unique cars from the 1940s era. The clothes,buildings and the way people talk all fit within the setting. Like GTA, players aren't required to follow traffic laws and can run lights and speed as fast as they want. However, unlike GTA, players cannot kill anyone by running them over. This means there is virtually no consequence to driving like a maniac.
  • Bazz NZBazz NZ165,532
    29 Aug 2011
    2 11 6
    This game is by far hands down the best game ever !! If you like Mafia 2 imagine roles reversed and your the cops thats LA Noire !!. If achievements is what you want then This offers 1400gs in 30 hours, very easy, very fun. Graphics are off the chart !! and the facials in the game are classic !! DLC is affordable with the RockStar pass offering all the DLC for one price !!. Controls are nice and fluent and easy to pick up, the only downer to the game is its hard to put down lol !!.compute dance
    13 Jun 2011 13 Jun 2011
    6 15 0
    what can i say about this game. Well for certain that my father an intellectual pc gamer who enjoys myst and mutiple others of their ilk will love this game. but ya know what? i do too, its a wonderful blend of detective and rpg with a little bit of action thrown in for spice. but there is enough meat to this game to really get into. exploring dark corners, searching for clues with smooth jazz playin in the background and only ur instincts to guide you. helpfully ur instincts take the form of musical cues and controller vibrations. also i love the polite way that you can jack everyones cars, and for once i am able to make a 24 car traffic jam without cars freakin dissapearing.... although i will say that it is tough finding 95 different cars that to me all look freakin identical

    the attention to detail and refined, slow paced deliberate sense of the game is a real change from that which other games attempt to cultivate. i for one enjoy really thinking out whats happening and taking my time.

    a surreal yet starkly visceral adventure like white water rapids, at times mild and at times violently thrilling this is a tremendous effort that delivers on almost all fronts.

    The facial reconstructions are so magnificant that you are simply willing to overlook simple flaws such as frame rate stuttering and some minor environmental glitches. while mass effect 2 is far more advanced graphically in other areas, it is the only thing i can compare this game to in terms of facial

    the ability for characters to portray emotion borders on unbelievable, and never before realized in any game. this is very important due to the fact that as a cop your job is to interogate and investigate. many times it will be your reading of a person that will determine how things unfold.

    Similar to heavy rain yet with just a bit of gta allows you to unfold the events as though a movie. set aside some time for this one however as its 3 disks long. or maybe i should say 3 disks awsome.

  • P4tr1ck W 21P4tr1ck W 21137,973
    30 May 2011
    2 12 2
    L.A. Noire is a bit of a different direction for Rockstar and game developer Team Bondi. It presents itself as an open world title but places quite a few restrictions on the player to the point it's actually a quite linear experience. Surprised? I was. Don't get me wrong here, I still find the game to be amazing, but if you go into L.A. Noire with the mindset that you can go and do whatever you want, you might find yourself to be supremely disappointed

    the facial capture system really helps you to work out the truth in what each character is saying and is a huge step forward for the game industry. headspin

    and overall this is a must buy for everyone smile