L.A. Noire: G.T.A For The Good Guys?

Ever since November 11, 2010 when I first got a glimpse of the video for Rockstar’s and Team Bondi’s conjunction, “L.A. Noire,” I was immediately hooked, expecting a “Grand Theft Auto” style game, but from a cop’s perspective.  Man, I couldn’t have been any more wrong.  Sure, the game does take certain elements from the classic franchise, but it also brings a fresh new twist to “sandbox-style” games. Using Lightsprint’s real-time global illumination technology, as well as Depth Analysis’ newly developed technology for the film and video game industries called MotionScan, where actors are recorded by 32 surrounding cameras to capture facial expressions from every angle.  “L.A. Noire” gives you the feeling of actually being behind the eyeballs of a 1940’s Hollywood detective and really connects you with your character, which is starting to become a mainstay in the action/adventure and RPG markets.

The game takes place in 1947 Los Angeles, a city of fame and fortune, of dreams and aspirations, but also where crime, vice, and corruption run rampant.  You take the reins of protagonist, Cole Phelps, an LAPD officer who rises through the ranks of the department.  He has joined the police force to “right the wrongs” he committed during World War II.  He starts off as a patrolman, then advances to traffic detective, homicide, where you begin an ongoing investigation of one of this country’s most notorious and unsolved cases, The Black Dahlia, vice, where you truly see just how corrupt the publicly shunned LAPD is, and finally arson investigator which I haven’t had the pleasure of checking out yet.  Each promotion up the ranks gives Phelps a partner, which is a character all in his own who will sometimes aid you in the investigations by wandering in the right direction for vital clues, fights, and arrests.

As expected, there are the occasional shootouts, car chases, tailing and foot chases which you would find in any police drama on TV, where this game gets its roots from.  Along with the in depth crime scene investigating, the real nugget of interest is the questioning and interrogation features that the earlier mentioned MotionScan technology brings to life. This new feature allows you to read the suspects’ characteristics and body language while under heavy scrutiny to see if they are being truthful in their alibi or have a few holes in their story by doubting them, or just flat out lying to you to save their own asses.  As past experiences have shown me, when introducing new technology into gaming expect problems, but Team Bondi and Rockstar made sure that everything went as seamless a humanly possible because I didn’t run into one during the hard interrogating, just an error on my part for not calling out a smug son of bitch out on a lie here and there, or anywhere in the gameplay to speak of.  The developers even added the feature of not accidentally mowing down a pedestrian with your car or killing innocents who get caught up in a heated shootout.

In my general opinion, this should definitely be in the nominations for “Game of the Year,” as well as in any hardcore or even casual gamer’s library because the replay value is very high with this one, and that’s a rarity in single player games not made by Bioware or Bethesda these days. Brad Pitt’s even playing it!

Final Verdict for L.A. Noire:

5 out of 5