The Good the Bad and the Ugly : L.A. Noire

Its funny that there are hundreds of games out there that mimic the life of insert sport superstar’s name here, but really only a handful that mimic the life of a police officer. Yeah sure there has been cops in video games but there never doing Cop stuff. In Resident Evil 2 Leon S. Kennedy never arrests anyone on his first day on the job, and Mike Haggar from Final Fight is more interested in finding his kidnapped daughter than reading C.Norris his Miranda Rights. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but lets be fair most video game cops don’t really follow police code. Ask any police officer what their day is like and they will most likely tell you its usually pretty fucking boring. L.A. Noire captures that boredom with high tech facial expressions and GTA style gameplay.

The Premise

L.A. Noire takes place post world war 2 Los Angeles where you experience the career of police officer Cole Phelps. Phelps quickly rises through the rankings of officer and graduates to detective rather quickly. As Phelps your job is to search for clues at crimes scenes interview witnesses and take down the bad guys.

The Good

The great parts of L.A. Noire is figuring out the truth and realizing that people lie for many different reasons other than covering up the crime. Thanks to the developer Team Bondi and the revolutionary Motionscan technology allowed the developers to capture the facial features of every actor portrayed in the game. So when a character is trying to throw you off their scent in an interview there are “tells” that the actor shows you that this character is not being as forthcoming.

The funnest parts in the game are with out a doubt the interview process. First you gather clues at the crime scene, which entails searching the premises for anything from trash, to a shoe print, to blood.  Then you interrogate the witness; this is where you listen to the story and are presented with three choices: Believe them, Doubt what they are saying, or you know they’re lying and have proof.

Depending on how well you do getting the truth snowballs into the next interview and so on. At the end of each case the stats are revealed and you are given a score based on how well you do. Even though there are major flaws in the game (Ill get to them in a second), I couldn’t help but get sucked into these cases and how they weaved an entertaining tale that pulls a good cop down into the disease that is dirty politics, which some might say is still prevalent into today’s big city police offices. Detective Cole Phelps, who doesn’t believe he is a hero, is championed by the LAPD only to be left to hang on a short rope when he uncovers a corrupt businessman’s plot. This fall from grace story perfectly fits the Noire theme akin to movies such as L.A. Confidential and Chinatown both of which are huge inspirations to the game. With all this good how can it possibly be that bad?

The Bad

If you have played a Rockstar game before then you have played most of L.A. Noire. There are driving sequences where they penalize you for doing what people first do when they play a game where you drive something; try to break and kill as many people and things they can. Sure it’s not really a penalty but nothing is in this game. It’s as if they took anything challenging and threw it out the window. If you manage to fail an interrogation in the game nothing happends. There are fighting sequences that are awkward to say the least but again if you fail it the computer will ask if you want to skip it. You shoot guns but it has the same problems as GTA and Red Dead Redemption where the controls feel suggestive and not as reactive as most third person action games. Driving around post WWII L.A. is amusing for awhile but like all GTA-esque games they always try to distract you with side quests. So many times I was told to hurry up and go somewhere only to hear a call over the radio for assistance. When you arrive there its usually some random shootout that takes you way the fuck out of the way you were originally headed. I got so sick of it that I had my partner drive everywhere. I even let the blatant alcoholic I got paired up with in the homicide cases drive. Like I said before most Policemen find that the job becomes routine and boring, the same can be said about L.A. Noire. About 75% of the way through the game I found myself getting annoyed at having to search for clues again and talk to that guy again and so on. The game like real police work becomes monotonous.

The Ugly

Why must there be arbitrary things to collect in these types of games. I understand the clues and whatnot but hidden golden film reels- come on give me a fucking break. As I said before the driving drove me nuts so why the fuck do I want to hunt down some bullshit for the sake of what?… an Achievement/Trophy.  What disturbed me most was the animation on some of the people that have nothing to do with the story. They just look awkward when they move or something about their body just didn’t sit well with me. One individual, Michelle Moller,  just looks plain weird I don’t know what bothers me so much about this particular part but I think its Michelle’s hands… take a look

Closing Comments

L.A. Noire could’ve been a better game if the game didn’t have the cookie cutter feel of every Sandbox game out there. Team Bondi took some great steps in trying to make a player feel like they are in the story, but then they tried to shoe horn all the old elements of an open world game and then says no no no when you try to do anything creative. It’s like a bad parent trying to control their unruly child but instead of actually punishing the child for doing wrong they just threaten them a little while the child does whatever they please. I must admit that if motion capturing techniques that Team Bondi created continue to evolve this is going to be the game looked at as the one that started it all.

Rating : 6 out of 10



~ by Andrew Braid on February 7, 2012.

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