L.A. Noire – Rockstar Makes Vintage Coffee

[Originally written, May 30th 2011]

This time it’s about the recently released L.A. Noire [for Xbox and PS3]. Let me start off by firstly saying that it is an amazing game with a great story and masterful acting. L.A. Noire places you in the shoes of a newly minted police officer named Cole Phelps. Starting off as a humble uniformed police officer, the game requires you to solve crimes and progress through the ranks of the Los Angeles police force. Starting with Patrol, you progress through Traffic, Homicide, Administrative Vice [AdVice or Vice for short] and finally Arson.

The game is set in 1947 in L.A right after the end of the second world war. Even though it is a Rockstar game, it is drastically different from the likes of the Grand Theft Auto games, as you don’t go around causing merciless mayhem, although you still can in your car. Crashing into things with your car is the only way to cause chaos, because you can’t get your gun out at any time apart from cases or street crimes, because police officers don’t run around just randomly unloading their firearms into the public.

Rockstar have utilised a new motion-sensor technology that uses 32 [32!] cameras around the actors head to capture each and every tiny detail or muscle movement. The resulting effect of this is an extremely accurate face and head of the character, and because of this it makes all the characters extremely realistic looking. Rockstar have said that if they make a sequel they would try to incorporate this to capture the whole body of the actor, for the way that they move and walk.

The game developers have painstakingly recreated an accurate Los Angeles from 1947, including all the vehicles, clothes and advertisements and even the way the characters and NPCs react and speak, and even the types of verbal slang they used. All the landmarks in the game are real places, including Musso and Franks, the RKO theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

During each case in the game, you are required to search the crime scene for evidence and then interview or interrogate witnesses and suspects. While searching for the evidence, if you pick up an item, you have to use the analogue sticks to move Phelp’s hand to look at more angles of the evidence, to find markings or names that could help your investigation. It seems easy enough, but each crime scene is also littered with other items that are not evidence, but stuff that you can still pick up. This is usually met with your character muttering something like “This is nothing”.

When interviewing witnesses or suspects, the game has been made so that you have to watch the way the suspects move and react to certain questions and then you have to decide [based on their movements] on whether they are telling the truth, lying or if you have doubt. If they are lying you then have to back up your statement with a piece of evidence. Doubt is used for if you think they are lying but may not have evidence to back it up. For example, if one suspect says they were not at the scene of the crime, but you have a piece of evidence that says otherwise, you can select lie, and then present them with the aforementioned evidence to negate their statement. This is made harder in the later cases, as the suspect could LOOK like they are definitely telling the truth, but then they could actually end up lying to your face.

At the end of each ‘desk’ [Traffic, Homicide, Vice etc.] you can unlock Free Roam. This allows you to drive around the city however you like while doing whatever you like, but without having to do any of the story cases. This allows you to complete Street Crimes, find the landmarks, Golden Film Reels and drive each of the 95 [95!!] vehicles. Street Crimes are like mini-cases, generally something like a shooting or a robbery. There are 40 of these to complete, and they usually end up with you arresting or killing the culprit.

There are 30 landmarks to find while driving around the city and 50 Golden Film Reels. The interesting thing about these is that the Landmarks are real places, and the names on the GFRs are actual movie titles from the 30′s and 40′s. There are 95 different vehicles to drive in L.A. Noire, and they are all actual vehicles from that era of time. The majority of them are just standard public cars, but there are also service vehicles [fire trucks, ambulances, taxis etc.], 9 different police cars and 15 hidden rare vehicles, that, despite being ‘hidden’ and ‘rare’, are actually damn easy to find because they are marked on your map.

Throughout the story cases there are also 13 newspapers to find that add a little insight into the back-story of the game, while also giving you information into the main story of the game, all of which unfolds towards the end. To me, they are rather like the Audio Diaries found in the two BioShock games. There are also 9 suits to unlock [3 which are DLC related] and around 7 different guns to use.

Each police vehicle also incorporates  a working siren [any other vehicles has the standard horn]. Turning the siren on while driving at ridiculous speeds makes all the other vehicles on the roads stop or pull out-of-the-way to let you past, which I thought was a neat thing to put into an already realistic game.

I only had one problem with L.A. Noire and that was the fact that there was no multiplayer involved. I think it would have been cool to solve crimes with a friend playing the role of your partner, or even to just have it in the Free Roam sections. Maybe Rockstar will release a DLC or a Patch for the game that allows this [PLEASE!].

Overall I think L.A. Noire is one of the best games to come out in a long while, and that Rockstar should definitely make a sequel to it.

9.5/10 [-.5 for no multiplayer]


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