[Video Game Review] LA Noire
Rockstar games refuses to go easy. Within this console generation, they’ve struck gold with their best GTA game ever in GTA 4, a solid competitor in the street racing genre with Midnight Club Los Angeles, a table tennis game people loved with Rockstar Table Tennis, and their latest game of the year award winner, Red Dead Redemption. While Red Dead Redemption was Rockstar’s first full solo go at the Red Dead Revolver series (the original was purchased partially complete), the only new IP from Rockstar this generation was Rockstar Table Tennis . The announcement of LA NOIRE was big for several reasons. Other than it being the first new major IP for Rockstar on current generation consoles., it would be the first time they would force you to play on the same side as the law. While some may have questioned Rockstar’s direction originally, the results are something most will love.
First things first, LA Noire is not Grand Theft Auto. For those looking to dick around, while killing random people and stealing cars, you will be disappointed. It’s very clear Rockstar did not want you to go rogue. You are not allowed to pull your gun out whenever you want. Hitting civilians will bring your detective rating down. LA Noire is LA Noire. You play super good-guy cop Cole Phelps, who is a fresh face in the police force in 1940′s Los Angeles. The setting is done great. The music, the clothing, the building structures and the language are all done phenomenally. The music in LA Noire is probably the best music I’ve heard in game since Bioshock. While the sounds of LA Noire do a great job of setting the tone, they also come in handy during two of the games major game mechanics, investigating and interrogating.
As mentioned above, you can’t run around recklessly brandishing your firearm. LA Noire puts you fully into the role of a detective (sans planting evidence, and racial profiling). You are given a case and then,you either drive to the scene (with the ability to take up side missions on the way) or, have your partner escort you to the location of the crime. On the scene, you have to search for evidence and interview people of interest. The music plays along as your comb the area for evidence, giving you hints when you get close to clues. The games bread and butter however, are the interviews/interrogations. The scenes are made great by three things – the facial animations, the acting, and the dialog itself, in that order. Simply put, gaming has never seen facial animation like that of LA Noire. With the exception of some of the younger characters, the facial animations are closer to that of actual humans than you could have ever imagined, which gives actors the ability perform exceptionally well. Anger is expressed (in the face) better than in some movies. The cast (many of which can be seen on Mad Men) do outstanding jobs of playing their parts. In interrogations and interviews, you normally listen to the person of interests try to explain themselves for a little while, then you are given the option to agree with them, doubt their story, or flat out call them a liar. To successfully catch someone in a lie you have to not only guess that it was a lie, but also have collected the proper evidence to back up your accusations. Guess incorrectly, and the person of interest will either be outraged (which will be acted out amazingly) or reluctantly show their happiness due to your sub par detective work. Incorrect guesses do not stop the game, however, depending on your police work, you will either be praised at the end of the case, or chewed out by your superiors.
While LA Noire is a great game, it is definitely not perfect. Far too often you’ll find yourself approaching a person of interest to talk it out, then after pretending to either not be the person you’re looking for, you find yourself chasing said person down. While the chase scenes are handled well, you figure after having to chase several people down, Detective Phelps would have figured it out to make sure all exits are covered. The shooting is amazingly blahzay. At times I’ve found myself walking up tall in the middle of shoot outs, with absolutely no fear of bullets, and successfully winning the gun battles. All and all, Rockstar and Team Bondi (the developers, and creators of the new facial animation system) have created a great new experience. While those looking for GTA in 1940s Los Angeles are sure to be disappointed, others may find a new favorite series (sure to be continued).
Rating: 4 out of 5