Friday, May 27, 2011

L.A. Noire Review

L.A. Noire takes place in 1947, a time known for its music, clothing, and above all else, crime. In L.A. Noire, you play as Cole Phelps, an army veteran returning to the United States to settle down and find a new profession. Little does Cole know that when he decides that the life of an officer in Los Angeles is fit for him, the decision he makes will introduce all kinds of trouble from runaway husbands to being shot at on a daily basis. Cole takes this all in stride, however, relying on his heightened instinct from his experiences in war, which are shown as flashbacks periodically throughout the game. Overall, L.A. Noire is an intense adventure where you play the role of a detective going from Traffic to Arson, and everywhere in between, with twists and turns and where each choice introduces different reactions.

The lead character, Cole Phelps, as a patrol officer.

L.A. Noire plays like many of the other Rockstar games, but has a distinct difference. In this game, as opposed to other open world games, you're not aimlessly causing violence. You're a cop, and you're constantly reminded of this by either yourself, as the character Cole guides you by talking, or various partners that you have at each desk. There are 21 cases throughout the game, which on average take around an hour to complete. The first 4 cases follow Cole as he progresses through Patrol, earning his worth to be promoted to Traffic. From there, each desk – Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson – will contain numerous cases, which, working together, complete a fantastic story. Rockstar has generally paid an amazing amount of time and effort into fantastic story-telling, and this game continues to impress. Rather than even bothering with having much to complete outside of a few points of interest to discover and cars to find, L.A. Noire encourages you to spend a great deal of time invested in each case. The cases play out just like you would assume, you're a detective, so you will be required to investigate crime scenes, interrogate witnesses, and follow leads. Ultimately, you will get the choice to pursue certain suspects, and can even end up convicting the wrong suspect. On a grand scale, though, these cases do not affect the final outcome of the game, but still provide a distinct difference in the way the case plays out, and can even cause different scenes to be introduced or completely left out.

MotionScan technology allows for real-time capture of facial expressions using over 60 cameras.

The biggest area of attention throughout the months and years leading up to L.A. Noire's release was their new technology, MotionScan. This piece of technology allows the developers to use actors' real facial expressions in real time, making the animations of facial features absolutely stunning. This piece of technology proved crucial to the playability of this game, and it works marvelously. Every crack and crevice of the person's face appears in the game, and as Cole, you must analyze the lies from the truth, in order to extract the most information possible out of people. The MotionScan technology relies on real actors to fill the roles, rather than animating people from scratch, which takes much less tedious time animating, and allows them to match the voice to the actor with seamless precision. Over 400 actors were used to create the game, so rarely will you witness the same person walking down the street or in a scene. Speaking of the streets, Rockstar faithfully recreated over 8 square miles of 1947 Los Angeles, with over 30 famous landmarks spread throughout the city. Even the Hollywood sign, which originally was constructed as Hollywoodland, is included as the original. Their attention to detail is outstanding, and shows their commitment to a convincing story.

The attention to detail in cars and the city is phenomenal.

Overall, the story of L.A. Noire is as amazing as any other Rockstar game, and the ending will stick with you for years to come, showing that the game really has a meaningful story. The gameplay of L.A. Noire is really similar to the open-world formula of recent years, but proves to be a bit more structured and directional. That structure does lead to a bit of repetition, but not so much that it hurts the game. That being said, there is still a freeplay mode, with items to find and tasks to complete. There are also 40 street crimes, which usually involve a gunfight or chase, and are mildly entertaining, if you're looking for a break from the investigation. The graphics of L.A. Noire are outstanding, including the facial animations, the clothing, the city, and cars. No other open-world game can boast all of these features exceeding all categories at once. The sound of L.A. Noire is phenomenal as well, with amazing voice acting, and a soundtrack inspired by some of the greatest music of the 1940's. The re-playability of L.A. Noire, however, is a bit lacking, with no support of online play. The game doesn't demand it, and Rockstar focused more on the story, but hopefully, many cases come out for DLC and they are reasonably priced. That being said, if one would like to play the cases over, they can select them at any time, and maybe convict the right suspect in a case that wasn't their best effort. Overall, Rockstar breaks the mold again with L.A. Noire, and continues to impress fans and general audiences alike.

Story – 8.5
Gameplay – 9.5
Graphics – 9
Sound – 10
Replayability - 8

Overall Rating - 9


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