on 18 June 2011
LA Noire is probably the most unique game I have ever played. Its set in 1940s Los Angeles where you play as former Marine now Detective, Cole Phelps. Phelps is a unique character for Rockstar to have as its protagonist, because he's not an immigrant trying to bury his past or an outlaw trying to go straight. The core of LA Noire itself is interrogations and crime scenes. Sure theres shootings but these mainly occur later in the game. Interrogations are simply fantastic for me because theres nothing quite like sqeezing as much information out of the suspect as possible. But these are not a walk in the park. These are very challenging and I get annoyed with myself if I fail on a question. Interrogations vary as you progress to each desk. Patrol, Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson are the desks you'll be on and they all impressed me. Those after GTA in LA will be dissapointed however, as you can't simply wield your gun and start shooting. Causing havoc will also severly impact you, as you get less stars at the end of a case due to property damage. The plot is mainly divided amongst the desks you're working on, for example, you'll be invesingating the Black Dahlia murders on the Homicide desk and Army Morphine being sold on the streets on the Vice desk. Replay value is also surprisingly high, as you can replay old cases to get that 5 star rating and there are many collectibles scattered round LA, such as film reels and famous Hollywood landmarks. Overall LA Noire is a gorgeous game due to Team Bondis new facial animation and I would recommend it to anyone. Definetely a contender for Game of the Year.
on 11 June 2011
It seems like telling people you are disappointed with a Rockstar game is much like John McClane's sandwich board experience in Die Hard 3. Someone is going to get upset, very upset and you are going to experience a fair degree of hostility. Which begs the question, how would this game have fared had it been produced by Reality Pump or Remedy? Fanboys get your flaming kit out, I fear I'm in for a hammering.
L.A. Noire seems to have been talked about for eons, a big build up, fawning previews and intriguing set up had interest piqued for a long long time. Postwar LA is as attractive a setting for a game as you can imagine and Team Bondi have done exceptionally well in capturing the feeling of the era. The clothes, dialogue, cars, venues et al are superb it is as good an environment as any, as cliched as it may be you are certainly drawn in almost immediately.
Looks good, feels good, then you engage in conversation with an NPC and you realise something, something epic. Games in which you interact with NPCs can never be the same again, it is incredible. Never before have I felt so much for those people I'm engaging with, the mannerisms, the eyes, the voice acting, the fear, the cockiness, the anger. It's a major leap forward, nay a quantum leap forward. These are as close to real people as you have seen so far.
However, excitement and awe quickly gave way to another realisation, after about 6 cases it dawned on me that I had invested in a one trick pony. Get given a case, go to the scene, have a look around for clues, interview some suspects, maybe chase them, maybe have a shoot out then back to the station for more interviews. This is undeniably enjoyable at first and the homicide desk is without doubt the better period of the game but it's here you realise that that huge immersion you initially felt has fallen away. You're not playing this game, you're being led through it. You can't fail the cases, if you get stuck in an action sequence you can choose to skip it and you have no power to affect the direction of the protagonists career or personal life. You are playing a big cutscene, or perhaps more accurately a big tech demonstration. It's hard to elaborate without giving away spoilers, but you feel cheated at the direction the game goes toward the end, for all the steps forward in character performance, we should be demanding a degree of control and story arcs in the vein of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, not to be thrust in one linear direction to an inevitable conclusion.
L.A. Noire is a huge step forward in one sense, for a while it is an undeniably sublime experience, but as a game it falls short, from the sandbox kings you expect some degree of freedom, you have barely any, in the end whatever you do makes no difference and in a character driven experience, that is unforgiveable.
on 23 May 2011
Being someone that loves a great story in a game I was eagerly awaiting this release. I would rate Red Dead amongst the greats and as such was hoping for more of the same.
L.A. Noire did and did not disappoint in equal measure.
First of all, the graphics et al are a huge step forward. The much hyped facial expressions really lived up to expectations and the game has that lovely Rockstar gloss; the little things are always done very well. The story is good, the character development is good, the environment is superb (absolutely HUGE map), cut scene direction flows naturally, the driving is made all the more fun by a large selection of authentic 1940s cars and the script is a good one played out by professional actors - some of whom you may recognise as I did.
However, there are some problems. It is incredibly linear. You have this vast expanse of beautiful city and incredibly detailed characters, cars, etc. but you can't use them freely! Everything is done to the script - which is great if you were expecting a kind of interactive e-movie but I miss being able to go AWOL for a bit (as was possible in Red Dead or GTA). There are times when you are presented with a 'choice' but in reality both choices lead to the same eventuality way too quickly, so you can never really stray from the prescribed path - which has been Rockstar's forte in the past. The stages of the game themselves are interesting and original as a story, but a little boring to play because they are physically repetitive - again, playability loses out.
But maybe I'm being too harsh on this huge project. It is amazing to look at and engrossing to watch, but unfortunately playable fun loses out to a visually and emotionally engaging storyline in this game. A little freedom would have really given this game a whole other dimension which it seriously lacks.
Having said this, all in all I loved playing / watching it and would really recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the period or in CGI - also kinda cool to feel like you're a copy for a bit.
on 21 May 2011
I have been waiting for this game to be released for months, and now it finally has and it is absolutely fantastic!
The graphics are so detailed, from the body lying in the road to the matchbox on the counter. Of course, these brilliant graphics were expected, but it is still amazing to walk down the street and see the amount of buildings all around you. Literature and Film buffs will be pleased, as there seem to be references all over the place (on one of the first missions, you enter a building next to "Geiger's Rare Books" store - a direct reference to "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler).
The driving is difficult to get used to (I rarely play driving games), but it is worth it, if only to hear the music on the radio and the talk between your character and their partner. You do get fined for damage to property, injuries, and car damage, which I realised too late, and ended up with a very hefty fine. My advice would be to keep the speed down and stick to the middle of the road, because pedestrians have a habit of jumping in front of the car (or maybe that's just me?).
This game is not easy (although I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to games). Unlike some other games, where you just run around and shoot everything that moves, you have to think about your actions. I have had to restart many missions for missing my target and having the hostage killed by the mark. The "truth/doubt/lie" can also be difficult. Some characters are obviously hiding the truth, while you have to watch others very carefully to deduce their intentions.
Overall, I would say that this is a fantastic game and well worth the money.
on 24 May 2011
Not meaning to compare this to GTA or Red Dead Redemption (as I knew this game was anything 'but' when it was announced), I do personally think the aforementioned Rockstar games are much better in terms of gameplay and fun-factor. However, that's not to say I don't think L.A. Noire is fun, because it IS, in my opinion; the game is unique and fun in its own way. This is basically a modern day adventure game along the lines of Police Quest and Phoenix Wright!
The detailed graphics, MotionScan technology, acting, sound effects, music (especially the atmospheric pieces that play when sleuthing around crime scenes and the dramatic pieces that play when chasing suspects), the case stories and the overarching storyline and the way it's told, the investigating gameplay involving: searching crime scenes for clues, interrogating suspects and watching their facial expressions closely - and either doubting them/accusing them of lying with evidence to backup your claims - going over your case notes to review what you've found, getting new information/locations to look into etc; the fighting/car chase gameplay, which tends to spice things up; you can do side missions/cases off the main path (unlike Mafia II), cars handle well, the game caters for both hardcore and casual gamers (thanks to different options you can adjust), making mistakes during interrogations can make the overall outcome of a case different, and therefore the game has replayability - you can redo cases and improve your ratings... It's simply great! And it's different compared to the usual games that come out. And Rockstar are fantastic when it comes to making entertaining, different, mature, and intelligent games in today's market!
However, there are a few gripes I have with it: there are some graphical/technical glitches - such as frame rate issues, the mouths of characters/actors (inside their mouths and around) tend to look blurry, and vehicles randomly disappear sometimes - such as a vehicle that you wish to commandeer that's behind you; gun fighting doesn't feel as good as Rockstar's previous games - they're too brief and tend to be choppy because of frame rate issues; I don't think the 40s music on the car radios are as good as the music in Mafia II; as detailed as 40s Los Angeles is in the game, I don't think it's as fun to traverse through as the open world environments of previous Rockstar games; missions do tend to feel repetitive, the ending is a little bit disappointing, and I just wish there were more side missions... I find the ones available are too easy and they're over too soon. At least the game HAS side missions, unlike Mafia II, but more of them would've made this game even longer, which is no bad thing at all. :P
Unlike Red Dead Redemption last year, I don't think this will be my 'Game of the Year', but it'll certainly be a strong contender!
on 27 July 2013
Most people buy this game thinking it's going to be another Grand Theft Auto type game- it's not. LA Noire is all about being a detective and working for the LAPD. Anyone who complains about the lack of shooting, flying, free roaming (etc...) obviously have bought the wrong game, because this isn't that. So before buying this game, make sure you know what you're buying because it is very different to Grand Theft Auto.
Now that that's out of the way, LA Noire is a unique game with good graphics and I admire Rockstar for introducing new technology to their game. Every single case is different and the variety in them certainly keeps me amused. I enjoy being able to inspect a crime scene and use the information given to be able to interrogate people who may have been involved. I love how you can use clues against people and can choose whether or not they are telling the truth (even though at times it does get very difficult).
Although I have never felt the need to free roam in this as much as other open world games (purely because the storyline is too intense), the map is of good size and I love the fact that it is set in 1940's Hollywood as the cars and buildings are fascinating.
Driving could be slightly more realistic and perhaps a longer story would have been better (along with a much needed multiplayer in my opinion), however the above have clearly not been big enough issues to change my mind about what a brilliant game this is. On saying that, one of my main issues is the ending; not just the last mission, but certainly the last few missions building up to it. I will not spoil it for those who have not played it, however I found the ending quite disappointing and I felt as though it could've have ended much better and with much more effect.
Nevertheless, I am so glad that Rockstar have produced a work of art like this and I hope to see more games like it in the future.
on 22 May 2011
When I bought this game I knew it would be nothing like GTA. I knew it would be a crime/adventure game set in the 1940's. Thats why I bought it - it looked and sounded amazing. Something new from the Rockstar guys. Unfortunately, whilst playing, I can appreciate the amazing graphics,setting and new facial/expression software they've used however, there's just something lacking in the game and its always on the back of your mind.
Perhaps its the lack of fun, the game can get very repetitive and rather boring. Whilst playing, I found myself wishing there was more to do. There are no extra's like the previous Rockstar games. There's no shops to buy clothes/food/weapons (yes I know its not GTA but a cop could buy a new weapon), houses or apartments (apparently this cop works none-stop and doesn't have a home to go to. Whilst you're nearly always allowed to drive around in fancy and realistic looking cars (personally I like the easy to drive aspect), I'm always thinking, where do I go? what do I do?. There's nothing. You can find reels, hidden rare cars and landmarks, but thats all, and I find myself not being bothered if I do. Yes you can change outfits but the choice is limited and only when the game lets you.
There's a strictness to this game I'm sure you've already heard about. During interviews/interrogations with people, you can chose whether they are telling the truth, lying or you can doubt them. If you chose wrongly, you lose out on XP points and extra's like hidden car locations. I've re-started the game already having found cheats on the net to help with this, seeing as most of the time you'll think a character is lying when actually, they are telling the truth. It's frustrating. You get a hefty fine for causing damage, running someone over or crashing - but what does it matter since you have no money!?!
There's so much more 'wrong' with this game, its lacking so much and I think Rockstar/Team Bondi (?) thought they could make up for it with new graphics and its just not upto scratch. Yes visually its amazing but it just doesn't cut the mustard, if only they could have made a more funner, exciting game. I like playing the role of cop but not with sooo many rules. Overall, I'll continue playing and will probably play again but I think until they make a game which embodies everything people want - I'll stick with previous Rockstar games!
on 21 May 2011
Truly a great game, great period setting and atmosphere, wonderful facing animation. Add a rich narrative and you have what is obsensibly as interactive LA Confidential.
The rinse and repeat of the games structure can be explained simply....thats what a detective presumably does, look for evidence, interview, chase down suspects. The structure of this is integral to the game. (People dont complain about Call of Duty as all you do is shoot people do they?)
Well worth investing, but buyer beware, this is an adult game, its not GTA. Its slow paced, thoughtful, has minimal action and much like the brilliant Red Dead Redemption, may bore some gamers after a fast paced action experience.
on 8 June 2011
L.A. Noire is an epic game, in every sense of the word. There's a lot of it, and all of it is very good indeed.
LA Noire takes you through the career of a former soldier who starts out as a patrolman and rising through the ranks of various detective squads, solving cases along the way. It has a very well written story and the way the game draws you into the shoes of a detective is really very well done. It's a slow paced game - despite its initial appearance this ISN'T "Grand Theft Auto: the cop's story" and it rewards people who like to think and puzzle things out rather than those who rely on twitch reflexes and a full magazine.
There are some things to criticise in the game, but to be honest, it's so good overall that picking at the control system and suchlike would feel a bit like winning the lottery and complaining about having to pay tax on it.
Go ahead and try this game, I suspect you'll love it... providing you have the time to play it properly and you aren't expecting it to be something it isn't.
L.A Noire, a game which I bought as soon as I could get my hands on it. Why? Well, for starters the life-like characters portrayed in the game was like nothing I had ever seen before. One of the key things that intrigued me about the game though was the chance to play detective or the "good" guy. This in itself goes against the typical Rockstar approach seen in games such as Grand Theft Auto but the key question, is as to whether playing as a detective really is all that fun? Or is giving the player the sandbox joy of other Rockstar titles still the way to go?
L.A Noire is different to its fellow counterparts. To start off with the negative, the game is a lot more restrictive and limited in what you can get up to. The game does boast the excellent story and outside of that you will find side missions as well as collectibles, such as new cars. The problem is as seen in other Rockstar titles the side missions tend to get rather old quickly, that being said though their are some truly great set pieces for the player to engange in within the side missions, even if they are repeated far too often.
The combat in L.A Noire, works but is just generally uninteresting and super easy. In defence, it isn't the core part of the game but all the same if Team Bondi perhaps could have done a little bit more with the combat it would have been welcome.
Now on to the good stuff. The investigation work that you'll find yourself doing in the game as well as questioning suspects is fantastic. This is where L.A Noire really shines and at times you really do feel like you're watching a movie. The voice-acting to the scarily life-like characters are perfect. To an outsider they may well look at L.A Noire and see it as nothing more than a buffed up tech demo. Those claims are completely unfounded though, as the facial expressions as well as mannerisms of certain characters is something that you as Detective Cole Phelps will have to decipher. Using current technology would have made this impossible to immerse you in the experience as brilliantly as L.A Noire does, thanks to this new exciting technology.
Then there's the little details. Los Angeles is perfectly re-created into the 1940's, from the vehicles to the music on the radio to the people of the city itself. One of the little things that really surprised me was a Richard Nixon banner who at that time would have been representing California, in the House Of Representatives. It's these little meticulous details which are only reinforced by the new technology which sinks you into the story and setting, all so easily.
Graphics 9 Truly fantastic most of the time. The occasional niggle does pop up though such as texture pop in. Hopefully, this will be patched in due course though.
Sound 10 As close to flawless as you can get all adding to the immersion of the game.
Gameplay 8 Inspect. Question. Combat. Repeat. This dosen't sound too appealing but with only the combat really being a let down the gameplay is solid.
Lifespan 8 16+ hours for the main story arc plus factor in collectibles and DLC and you have a fairly decent package.
L.A Noire, is something I like to see. It's essentially Team Bondi and Rockstar taking a risk, going against the grain and trying to revitalise a stalling genre in point and click. This isn't for everyone considering a large amount of the game is not action orientated. Whatever you believe though and whatever camp you may fall into this is an exciting time to be a gamer with the continued advancements being made. L.A Noire does for the point and click genre what Resident Evil 4 did for the action genre. It not only brings something once adored back to life but manages to improve upon the foundations and give the gamer an even greater experience. If you love shooters and over the top action then L.A Noire probably isn't for you. If you like puzzle solving mixed with various different elements executed with precision and excellence then get your pencil handy and your thinking cap on as the Department needs someone like you. 10/10. John Mitchell.