sparklykiss's L.A. Noire (Xbox 360) review

LA Noire: A game full of fame, dames, and placing blame

If there is one thing I've done that I'm very proud of so far this year, it was the decision to complete LA Noire. I'm incredibly glad I made this worthwhile purchase and that I took my time with it. LA Noire is a breathtaking and wonderful experience that demands your attention and encourages you to work at your own individual pace.

You start off as one Mr. Cole Phelps, a beat cop eager to establish a real name and distinction for himself. Your big break comes from your first major case, Buyer Beware, where Phelps becomes a favorite of Captain Donnelly. From there, you begin your work as a detective for the traffic desk.

Things in the traffic desk all seem very routine and something from an expected work day, but the shift from desk to desk as you progress in the story really start to expose the corruption and darker side of the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles. The motion capture technology used to make important characters and everyday people gives this game a whole new world of depth and really makes the player want to engage in as much activity in this world as possible. One of the drawbacks out of playing the 360 version like I had, though, is that there was no capacity to apply that same realism to other aspects (like with reflections and how the light hit most objects.) This was a minor detail, considering the facial technology can really steer you away into looking at all that is good with this game.

The combat was familiar and very easy to pick up and understand considering I had played a small few of Rockstar’s games in the past. This brawling and gun fighting was sprinkled in just enough to make all the time spent mindlessly driving around the city to admire all the work and accuracy put into it and all the time spent aimlessly wandering for clues seem less stale. Team Bondi seemed very careful about what sort of variety they added into LA Noire, making sure to not have completely stale game play and ensuring that we stayed entertained.

But even if it was just hunting for clues and staring into the darting eyes of an obvious liar, the storytelling in this game has a phenomenal, almost cinematic, way of enticing you to go deeper. The pacing is a bit slow in some parts, but whenever that happens, a shock will come to knock you off your feet as you discover what sort of real corruption and deeply rooted evil deeds have occurred while you were just a few blocks away. There are flashbacks back to Phelps’ past, as well. And these glimpses into the man he was before he became a detective give you as the player even more information into how Cole operates.

Another point to bring to attention is how LA Noire encourages exploration and that it is okay to fail. The size of the world, the discovering of landmarks, and stumbling upon newspapers that give a bit of background; all make exploration a lot more fun than it has any right to be and is much more rewarding as well. As for failure, we all know that not everyone is perfect and seeing these characters with such strong personalities and drives teeter and make mistakes gives them something that you can relate to. Seeing them be embarrassed or shamed over a poor, hasty decision makes you feel sympathetic and only pushes you to work even harder to not mess the next case up. For me, that was a really crucial part to how I played.

As a final note, I would also like to mention that I dived into this game with no hint indicators and I sapped the color from the world. I do believe that if I had not done that for my first time through, that I would not have been so emotionally invested into what happened with the characters who mattered to me and this allowed me to focus more on how the story developed. This also led to some scenes being a lot more frightening, causing me to become a bit of an emotional roller coaster at the end.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience for me and I can’t recommend enough how much I believe that others need to look into playing this beautiful and breathtaking marvel of a game.

But before we go, can I ask your shoe size? :)

2 Comments
Posted by JJWeatherman

You make me wish I started in black and white.

Also: I wear a mens 8. Why do you ask? :P

Posted by Sparklykiss

@JJWeatherman: I didn't think that playing in black and white would make me feel that much of an impact. I initially did it because I wanted to try the experience that this game is out in a way that most games are presented.

Now that I'm starting over in color and restored the help for clues, it almost feels like the beginning cases are more spoonfed to me. At least this'll help with 100% completion.

But if you're a size 8, I think I should take you in for questioning.

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