by Ben Lelievre
reviewed on PS3
The Mean Streets of L.A.
Two years ago, gamers didn’t think much of L.A. Noire. Its development was veiled in secrecy and shrouded in a toxic cloud of rumours. The game would have been redesigned from the start; the Houser brothers found it boring and refused to let it come out. It could have never become vapourware, a game that never sees the light of day. But then, it would have meant that you would have counted Rockstar out, well…the rock stars of the video game industry at least. These guys always deliver quality games and L.A. Noire is no different. It’s an enormous risk they took with a game that is way out of their comfort zone, but they delivered a very solid experience and a darn good hardboiled story.
You play as Cole Phelps, a World War II veteran, coming back home and rebuilding his life as a Los Angeles policeman. You will climb the steps of the hierarchy alongside Cole. You start the game as a beat cop, uniform and all. You work your first cases on patrol, which serve as somewhat of a tutorial. They are not complete cases, but parts of cases and a taster of the action scenes. You get a crime scene to investigate and an interrogation (that is hard as hell) before you get promoted and then the real cases start.
The characters are deeply engaging. Cole Phelps, played by Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove, for those who watch the television show Mad Men), is a great protagonist. His story is delivered through the game’s cinematics as well as through a series of war flashbacks Cole has after every case. Slowly, the two storylines start to interlace themselves. Oh and did I mention the graphics? Rockstar did a great job at animating an economically prosperous Los Angeles;, with amazing architecture, era costumes and a smooth jazz soundtrack. But most of the time you will be so engrossed in the storyline that you might miss some of the details.
Forget Everything You Know…
Forget everything you know about Rockstar Games’ open-world ballets of manic violence. L.A. Noire is not one of them. At least not completely. The core of the game will remind you of those old school point-and-click games – inevitably it’s a slow-paced game. The most recent comparisons I would draw are the branded CSI games for PC and consoles that were published in the last few years. You are tasked with hunting for clues at crime scenes and trying to piece the story back together.
Ultra-dynamic storytelling. As good as any renowned crime novels. Interviews and MotionScan give gamers a different challenge
Way too streamlined at times