There's nothing quite like it.
L.A Noire is a hard game to classify, from some minor observation it could’ve easily been misinterpreted as GTA in the 1940’s with impressive facial tech, but if you look at anything past the obvious it’s a game with depth, an incredible story, unique gameplay and a giant sprawling open world. L.A Noire has not only set a new standard for its technology but it’s completely rewritten the book on the adventure game and open world game alike, it’s not without its flaws but it’s an incredible well crafted experience throughout the 20 or so hours it takes to complete it. Now let’s get one thing out of the way before we get into this review, I picked this game up on Monday and pretty much didn’t stop playing it until the end, it drew me in so well and so thoroughly that I just couldn’t put it down.
This game could be broken up in many kinds of ways, from open world game, adventure game, to third person shooter, to puzzle game. Its how it’s all implemented seamlessly into one cohesive unit that crafts an experience all unique and never really seen before.
Let’s start with the story, you are Cole Phelps, returning from the war you get a job as a beat cop, doing nothing but routine missions until some rough stuff goes down, by slowly proving yourself you work your way up through the ranks to detective, arson and so on, Each case having more on the line then the next, each crime getting more and more serious as the game progresses. The game builds tension at the drop of the hat and certain scenarios left me at the edge of my seat. The story and the twists and turns it takes is one of the best out there and a large reason why it’s so compelling and striking is due to its incredible facial tech, when talking to people or just watching cut scenes you see every emotion the character on screen is portraying, the actors breadth and believability even in the minor roles is something to praise about, every single part of the acting, story and so on is at such a high caliber it makes the other elements seem a little weak in comparison.
As for the gameplay, the driving is really quite fun and it handles well, it strays quite off the edge of realistic instead making them fun to drive, just driving around the tightest turns at top speeds in any of the cars feels great, and there are a number of moments where your sharp driving skills pays off within the story. The gunplay is a bit clunky but in some way it feels realistic, you can’t take too much damage and enemies go down rather quick as well. Those parts are all fine and dandy but you’ve all played those parts in games such as GTA(which isn’t hard at all to draw comparisons too for a lot of things) No, what sets this game apart other than the facial tech is the detective work you do, you start off at your station, get assigned to a case, drive over there(if you so desire, the game doesn’t force you to drive)and search around the investigation for clues as to who killed who, or the location of a body, or the location of some drugs and so on. The game uses musical cues to let you know when you’re near something you can interact with and on top of just picking up the object you can move it around and inspect it and even sometimes open it to find another clue, such as opening a glasses case only to discover it’s empty. Once you’re done inspecting the entire area you can talk to and ask any witnesses or victims around about the crime or any suspicions you may have. The facial stuff really comes into play during these moments because without it, L.A Noire would be half the game it is, during these parts you need to feel like you know the person, get in their head and think what they would be thinking so you can determine if they’re lying or telling the truth. If you do find that they’re lying, you have to provide proof that you’ve discovered looking through the crime scenes. It’s a very Ace Attorney kind of thing that they accomplish, listening to their testimony and poking holes in it and discovering the real truth, it never gets old contradicting someone and during a lot of these moments, it tests your detective skills to the fullest.
The final component would be the presentation of this game, although it’s come up several times throughout the entire review, is the look of this game, Los Angeles has been strikingly recreated to make you feel as though you were really there all those years ago. As brought up before the facial animation is outstanding, best in class, and is something that has changed how I look at interactions In videogames forever, it’s simply incredible and going back and looking at anything else now just looks…robotic, bad, however you want to put it. I mean there are some exceptions but the quality of the faces here are near flawless. Only after some tweaking could this be perfect and it’s something I hope we see more of in games. If I’m allowed one gripe, it’s that the bodies don’t look nearly as good in comparison; as good as everything looks in L.A Noire it’s the facial animations and the actors performances behind it that steal the show, and it’s something that will come to revolutionize the gaming industry in how stories are delivered and how actors can now be implemented within it.
All in all, I adored this game, everything was set at such an insanely high caliber it was hard not to just brush off and look past the little flaws this game did have, there isn’t hella explosions, or killing hookers, in fact, there isn’t much action in general, but if you’re looking for an experience like no other, and something that’ll stick with you for some time, I can’t recommend this game enough. For me, it’s going to be damn hard to top this for Game of the Year, and the only game I see doing that is Batman, though I’m sure you’ve all guessed that already.