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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Adventure

 

Publisher

Rockstar

 

Developer

Team Bondi

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

May 17, 2011

 

 

- 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 chase opportunities

 

 

- Open world isn't so open
- Some really bizarre bugs

 

 

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L.A. Noire

Score: 10 / 10

 

la noire          la noire

 

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 with the

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question: What game would Aaron like to play?

Answer: This one.

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.

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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.

 

la noire          la noire

 

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.

 

la noire          la noire

 

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 be awesome!)

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.

- Aaron Simmer

(May 31, 2011)

 

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