- An adventure game!
- Facial animation is awesome
- Portrayal of 1940's Los Angeles, right down to "The Bickersons"
- Generally good writing and acting
- So much potential for DLC support
- Opens the door to a sequel set in San Francisco for better car
- Open world isn't so open
- Some really bizarre bugs
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Score:10 / 10
I can't claim to be an expert on police
work in Los Angeles circa 1947, but I am a fan of the books and radio
shows of the time; that time before television was widely available and
men wore fedoras without looking like complete morons.
The novels of Dashiell Hammett, shows like "Dragnet" (with the
distinctive voice of Jack Webb), "Tales of Texas Rangers", "Pat Novak,
For Hire", "The Adventures of Philip Marlowe", "Casey: Crime
Photographer" and "Richard Diamond", where the questions were fast, the
action ongoing, and the answers filled with falsehoods, just like the
bar at the annual Liars Convention.
That's why L.A. Noire feels a lot like Team Bondi started development
Not only does it look and feel like the worlds conjured up in radio
shows -- theatre of the mind! -- it also plays as a linear adventure
game, with the action sequences largely skippable, including driving
from location to location.
This is why I like L.A.
Noire so much. It's an adventure game rolled into a 1947 cop drama.
L.A. Noire begins with Cole Phelps, war hero and rookie cop, breaking a
big case, which starts him on his upward climb through the ranks and
various police sections using his quick mind, intuition and an
occasional head butt. It's gritty, loose, and the writing and acting
matches that of "Dragnet", with some random car chases and on-foot
pursuits, and trading shots (bullets and fists) with bad guys thrown in
for good measure.
While those aspects of L.A. Noire are
certainly fine, it's the actual case investigation that had me playing
into the small hours of the morning.
Stomping around each crime scene and handling evidence without latex
gloves is the key to interrogating suspects and witnesses. Gaining clues
here is essential as it guides Phelps's later "interviews." Besides the
crime scenes, careful observation also plays an important role during
the interviews as L.A. Noire features the best facial animation (in a
game) to date and many of the subtle clues as to the honesty of the
responses can be read there.
Phelps has only three options during the interviews: Truth, Doubt, and
Lie. It may take a little time to understand what these three options
actually mean during the interrogations because the game doesn't do a
good enough job teaching the player what they actually mean.
Fortunately, it doesn't matter too much because right or wrong, Phelps
gets the information he needs to push forward. His boss may not like the
performance but a poor result won't halt the case or kill Phelps' chance
for a promotion.
Team Bondi's version of Los Angeles is a
pretty big place even though it doesn't have to be. I would happily
funnel from place to place with blinders on, but there's also the chance
to answer calls from dispatch and explore the city a little, maybe
search for a collectible film reel or take an old car for a spin.
Performing these side objectives are there to earn more experience
points to open new wardrobe options and intuition points, which can
prove vital during interrogations. The most important thing it does, at
least in my mind, is that it sets the stage for downloadable content,
which can't come soon enough. (Team Bondi, a "Dragnet Collection" would
L.A. Noire is on my personal Game of the Year list. The game appeals to
me on so many levels and delivers on the same that overlooking the
occasional graphical glitch and annoyance with some of the chases is
easy. I'm really looking forward to what Team Bondi comes up with next
to fill-out this already fantastic world.