So I’m putting it out there just in case you’re a bit confused. L.A. Noire is NOT Grand Theft Auto (GTA) in the forties. It is a story driven thriller where players must do whatever’s necessary to solve a spate of murders sweeping across America’s West Coast. This game is way slower than anything you’ve come to expect from a Rockstar game (because technically it isn’t one) and since for once, you’re playing as a lawman, you cannot embark upon random killing sprees through the City of Angels. That being said, L.A. Noire is still a game most definitely worth checking out.
In L.A. Noire you are Cole Phelps, a decorated World War II army veteran who’s back in L.A. to purge it from all evil. Cole’s a real stand up guy who’s all about honesty, hard work and integrity and upon returning from a tour in the Pacific, he joins the L.A.P.D. to continue serving his country. Like any hero, his beginnings are humble but through sheer hard work and determination, he begins to swiftly climb up the proverbial career ladder inheriting some truly challenging cases in the bargain.
Like clockwork, every case in this game has a systematic solution. Upon being notified of a crime, you and your partner will need to head over to the crime scene and sweep it clean, searching for clues that could provide some sort of insight to the crime. The game helps you out with a few audio cues as well as a vibrating indicator that you’re close to something important (these cues can be disabled in the main menu). Some of the stuff you pick up at the crime scene may be complete rubbish but you’ll still have to explore it with a fine tooth comb. This way you could end up picking up stuff, others at the crime scene missed out on. And the more clues you gather, the easier it becomes to interrogate a suspect (more on that in a bit).
Am I lying? You tell me.
Following up on the clues found at the crime-scene comes next. In some cases, they may point to a jaded husband or a jilted lover while in some they’ll point to certain seedy bars where the unfortunate victim spent the last few hours of his/her life. And once you’ve gathered enough evidence, you can swoop in to arrest the suspect. In almost all cases the perp will try and make a dash for it either on foot or by car. On-foot chases seem to have been inspired a bit by Assassin’s Creed where players must overcome a bunch of obstacles to stop the fleeting suspect. Merely hold down the Right Trigger (RT) on the Xbox360 controller and Cole will automatically vault over fences, scale ladders, shimmy down drain pipes and in some cases, leap across roof tops. In a vehicular chase you must catch up to and damage the ride before the suspect pulls over.
What I’ve briefly described over here is how 99 per cent of the cases in the game pan out. Now I know you’re probably thinking that this game sounds pretty repetitive and yes to a certain extent, it is. The repetition thankfully is subdued a bit, thanks to the game’s facial animation system that ties into your interrogations. Developer Team Bondi have been pimping this system for a while now but it’s only when you experience it first-hand do you truly appreciate the technology fuelling it. Every character in this game boasts of a myriad of expressions from happiness to guilt to remorse to plain anger. And during interrogations you have to pick up on their emotions to successfully get a confession.
There's a lot of talking in this game
I admit, my first interrogation was a complete disaster. I didn’t have all the facts and I kept misreading my suspect. Accuse a suspect without the necessary evidence and he/she will just clamp up making you restart the entire process all over again. But on the other hand, if you’ve researched your case well, you can crack open your suspect in a matter of minutes making you feel like a world class detective. As you progress through the game’s 21 cases and interact with more characters, you’ll learn to read them better, which in turn will help you make better calls.
Besides the cases that propel the plot forward, you’ll also receive a bunch of side missions on your police radio and these are far more action oriented allowing players to satiate their trigger finger. Gunplay in this game is identical to some of Rockstar’s previous games like GTA IV or Red Dead Redemption. You can take cover behind objects, pop up to squeeze of some rounds or even fire blindly if you don’t have a clear shot. The arsenal is a bit limited but the few weapons present in this game like pistols, shotguns and Tommy guns pack a serious punch.
I wanna fire my freaking gun
Los Angeles is yours to explore technically, but since this isn’t really an open world game, all you can do is indulge in random side quests mentioned above or explore the game’s many tourist attractions. Also unlike GTA games where you can pick from a bunch of missions, newer cases will not unlock unless you’ve solved older ones. That being said, L.A. has been recreated from the ground up gorgeously and every minute detail down to the music, architecture and attire reflect the game’s time period.
She was so young
So do I recommend L.A. Noire? Well, yes and no. No if you’re looking for an open world, action oriented fix as this game is a bit slow on the action and like I’ve said multiple times before, you can’t go around shooting stuff up. Plus it also gets a bit repetitive in the middle. However, if you’re the patient variety who has a soft spot for whodunits and penchant for painstaking detail, L.A. Noire will offer an engaging experience.