The lights are on
In this era of big Call of Duty set pieces in games and constant drama in crime procedurals on TV, many will complain about a slower, more realistic flashback in crime fighting. They shouldn't. L.A. Noire is a rare game that paces the action to the story and not the other way around. The story is one of the best of this generation, as it forces the gamer to question the integrity of those members of society (the police) that are supposed to be the most trusted. This professional story intertwines with Cole Phelps' personal experiences, which are revealed through flashbacks to WWII and his strained friendships, and near the end of the game it is revealed how these two storylines are related. The revelation is mind-blowing.
As for gameplay, the facial recognition technology could not be used better than in the interrogations. One of the highlights of the game, interrogations allow you to try to read the character and mind of each suspect. The thrill of guessing right and the letdown of losing possible information just based on the sound of different piano keys following your guess are some of the most simple yet tense moments in the game. Shootouts, though rare outside of street crimes, are still fun and contribute action in calculated situations that seem like they would actually happen. There are several guns and they all work well with regard to aiming and feedback.
One of the most tedious parts of the game is the vast amount of driving. At first, exploring the city and all of the different cars is and interesting experience. The city is as realistic-looking as possible, and the many types of cars add a flair to driving and finding the fastest ones. However, about half-way through all of the cases, the driving becomes repetitive and you will probably just cut through all the drive time by having your partner drive (which skips to arrival at the location).
The X-factor for me on this game that really elevated the environment and immersed me in the time period was the audio. The music, from the main menu to the music cues in interrogations, is expertly crafted and well-placed throughout tense situations. Overall, if you do not need that constant stimulation, then you need to get this game, as it is an experience unlike any before.
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