The lights are on
L. A. Noire is certainly a unique game. Following the investigative career of Detective Cole Phelps, a WW2 veteran, the player is thrown headlong into the seedy and mysterious workings behind the scene of an otherwise sparkling 1948 Los Angeles. As the game wears on, the players finds clues to more than a few murders and vice crimes- they unravel a vast conspiracy that involves the most powerful individuals around.
The visual and audio component of this game was stunning. The graphics were pristine and L. A. was so faithfully recreated that I could easily imagine myself being in 1948. Music, graphics, movie references, political scares and even household goods were done to the extent where nothing was overlooked. The acting, too, was on-point, whether it was capturing Phelps's emotion during major events or a passerby using a 'old-time' greeting or mannerism.
The well-written and complicated plot, fantastic acting and breath-taking graphics certainly makes this game feel like a gem, at first. Unfortunately, the value isn't as high as the shine might have you believe.
Though there is a guarantee of many gameplay hours, a majority of it feels dragged out. Phelps finds himself going from case to case, following the same base pathway through the crime scenes (Show up, gather clues, interrogate witness, move to new scene, repeat). After a point, this affair loses its spark, leaving me wondering where the game was going to get interesting. One can only do the same thing so many times. After Phelps left homicide, the cases felt like a record was skipping.
Regrettably, some of the actual scenes took so long to pick up momentum that I found myself skipping them. Other portions of the actual noire element were so woefully predictable that major revelations were, in fact, not revelations at all.
The combat and chase scenes were so rudimentary that they felt thrown in, at times. A perfect auto-aim system, mini-map target tracking and the ability for your partner to shoot out the tires of fleeing suspects made the intense moments end all too quickly. Though tackling a fleeing suspect, rather than chasing him to a designated end, was fun, there aren't many moments where one is able to do this.
The 'Street Crimes,' which are the only real interruption to the plot, consist entirely of shoot-outs and chase scenes, meaning that these often welcome respites don't do much to break the monotony.
Of course, the notebook menu was interesting, the lie detection was ok and I was grateful to have the ability to make my partner drive, but a menu doesn't make the game, the lie detection was too heavily focused on and having a partner drive was a necessity if you wanted to ensure you got a five star rating at the end of the case.
Overall, did I like this game? Yes. Am I going to play it again? No. I recommend waiting until you find this game on sale because, unless you absolutely love driving carefully and hate a good combat system, this is an example of designers who relied too heavily on a few creative elements to carry the whole game.
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