Cleaning the City of Angels
L.A. Noire has been called many things such as GTA:1947 but the thing I haven't heard which seems more appropriate now is "Major contender to Game of the Year 2011/past ten years". L.A. Noire keeps the name of Rockstar Games high up with the best, not really knowing what to expect from it I started it steadily but found myself playing the game without any pauses.
L.A. Noire has this special thing so many games thrive for: a reason to go forward. While the story is divided in different sub-plots (Patrol, Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson) while keeping you on track with the protagonist's, Cole Phelps, hidden past. For example, while in traffic, you will be solving minor cases and still feeling flashbacks from Cole's war tales. Those flashbacks aren't only decoration, they help understand Cole more and the finale ties up every sub-plot in the game along with the flashbacks in a beautiful fashion only the best can hope to achieve.
The greatest thing about L.A. Noire in my opinion is how different it is from every other open-world games out there. While you are given streets to roam in, you aren't encouraged to go on a rampage killing people, on the contrary, every major offense such as killing civilians or damaging public property will lead to a negative review at the end of the mission, keeping you away from the much coveted 5-star rating. This makes for a much more realistic cop experience which counteracts all previous open-world games published by Rockstar and just made me feel so much more into it.
Another thing that got me really into the game is the facial animation. Everyone has been talking about it, it has been shown a million times and still I was amazed when I first faced it. During interrogations it's essential to read the person's facial expressions and actions to tell whether they're telling the truth or lying. The only problem I had with this system how when trying to prove someone wrong with an item I would show an item which would still make sense but the game is programmed only to accept one proof item. Also the pattern of lying was a little bit to obvious, while I get we must have a way to know if the person is lying, I still felt it was a bit too easy to show the person twitching on his chair looking around frenetically, kinda killed the experience a little.
While we're talking negatives, the game has nothing to go back to. In terms of replay value I was shocked. Rockstar Games have a tendency to be the type of game you can come back to at any time to have fun online (GTA IV or RDR) or simply have a bunch of mini-missions to accomplish for fun. In L.A. Noire you have access to side missions but unfortunately there are only 40 street crimes to solve and the other collectibles only help to achieving 100% completion. The game is lengthy, my final playtime was 18 hours and 2 minutes with 27/40 street crimes, 15/30 landmarks discovered and a game completion of 75.5%. It might not seem like much but I was actually glad it wasn't any longer, there was a point in the game (about three fifths of the way) in which I was starting to get tired of it. It wasn't until the last few chapters that my enthusiasm was reinvigorated with some amazing twists in the story.
I've said some negative things about the game but it's not to say this was one of the most enjoyable games I've played in a long while. I will keep playing some of it, try to find all the vehicles and complete all the street crimes until Dirt 3 comes out. It's good to know that while I won't be playing it later on, I will remember how amazing my time with it was and how much I'm looking forward to the next Team Bondi game. I recommend this game to anyone who has the patience to solve crimes with thinking and to give up the run and shoot attitude so many modern games has input in our brains.
P.S. I have played in on the Xbox 360 version and the disk swapping wasn't a real problem until after the game where you can replay cases, choosing older cases will have you switching disks to access the content you want, the PS3 version (while I have not played it) seems like a more viable way of playing the game.
- Replay value
- Some slowdowns
- Disk-swapping post-playthrough