You’ve probably seen the trailers for L.A. Noire which show how they did the facial capture which gives the most lifelike characters ever seen in a game. Well, now the game’s out and I’ve finally got to see if it just looks good or plays good as well. The verdict is the gameplay is simple but it does grab you and not let you go as you attempt to solve a variety of homicides that of are of course linked to a greater story ark.
You play the game as Cole Phelps, (the very definition of good cop) as you partner up with another cop (who usually plays the bad one). Each case has the same format which starts with a murder, then a briefing, then you make your way into 1940s L.A. to investigate the crime scene and any locations and people that crop up as a result of that investigation. Once you apprehend your suspect or get a confession your points are racked up depending on how many clues you found and how you questioned your suspects and you move to the next murder. There are also other street crimes to put a stop to as you travel from A to B in your car and these usually take the form of a car chase, a chase on foot or a shoot-out.
When questioning people it’s easy to see why they spent such time capturing actors in the way they did. Each subtle movement of the face is captured and it’s this along with evidence which you can use to state whether you believe or doubt a suspect. Of course if you have something that directly conflicts with what they’re saying you can look in your note book and use this evidence against them. It’s intriguing to hear what they have to say but sometimes you incorrectly choose the wrong line of questioning even though the person on the other end of the table is looking really shifty which can lead to confusion and frustration.
When it comes to shooting, action feels very similar to that of GTA with its simple cover system. Fighting hand-to-hand is just a question of blocking and punching at the right time. Picking your way through clues also feels a bit dated. Music lets you know if you’re near something of interest but sometimes the objects are just red herrings and you feel like you’re wasting your time, scouring the walls and hammering the A button until you find something (an action that reminds me of the old Resident Evil games).
If this game didn’t look so good it would actually be rather average. If you’re expecting a game like Red Dead Redemption or GTA you won’t get the sandbox you’re hoping for. If, however, you like the old style graphic adventures and want an intriguing detective story with believable acting, it should engross you for many hours. L.A. Noire gets a very good 7 out of 10.
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