Review by ironbrain
Accuracy is crucial for gameplay, and not just for the guns.
Being a HUGE fan of the themes from the "Roaring Twenties", 30's and 40's, I was very interested when I heard about the game, and raced to a retailer to pick it up. I'll keep it short.
The game is beautiful. The cars are gorgeous, the development on the city is apparently realistic, and the music is spot-on to the time period. Occasionally, radio coverage of the McCarthy trials will play. The lyrics of one songs mentions 'the 48 states', which made me smile. The presentation is flawless.
Cole Phelps is a decorated veteran of WWII, and starts out as a patrol officer. He works relentlessly and goes above and beyond to ensure the streets of Los Angeles are safe. The police department recognizes him, and hastily promotes him to the traffic desk. Here, you solve cases of a "higher caliber". You progress higher through the ranks as you solve more important cases.
Throughout the story, you collect newspapers of seemingly unrelated events. Some parts blend well, but others fall flat. You occasionally see flashbacks of Cole's military career, intended to explain the psyche of some characters.
For me, the final case fell short. I felt it could have been more suspenseful. Overall, it was well developed but added some unnecessary ingredients to the mix. It didn't have the polish, perfection and shock of a perfect storyline, but it was darn close.
MotionScan technology is introduced in L.A. Noire. The animations are beautiful and it looks great. The only issue is that some of the logic in the game's various interviews is very questionable, sometimes giving you irrelevant leads and greatly extending the amount of time you spend on a case. Not game-breaking, but it can be very frustrating.
How detection is intended to work: in the early cases, it is fairly clear if a suspect is lying or not. In the later cases, you use your developed sense of detection from the earlier cases in the later cases. An interviewee may grab their arm, itch around their ear, or move their eyes around when recollecting details from the case. These are signs of doubt, or, if you believe you have the correct evidence, lies. Speaking of lies, here is another flaw.
Upon completing the game and going for the collectibles, I looked up a guide to the questions (judge me all you want) to power through the campaign with 5-star case reviews. Some of the questions I remember missing had some surprising outcomes. The woman I was interviewing seemed to tell the truth: eyes straight forward, posture calm, no stuttering. Everything seemed fine. But apparently it was a lie and I had to present what I deemed irrelevant as evidence. Also, replaying the cases .You CANNOT skip the cutscenes. Some of the vehicles you can collect spawn in certain cases, but it is not certain they spawn. A PAIN to watch a 6-minutes cutscene 6 times when you want to rush through to a single parking lot.
As you drive through the streets of Los Angeles solving different cases, the radio will alert you of a 'street crime.' They're essentially side-missions that take anywhere from 1-5 minutes, depending on how frustrating the street crime is. There's really no variation here: save the hostage, win the shootout, chase a guy or a tail a guy. They're not dull, but they're not top notch.
The overall gameplay is unique, but becomes monotonous and feels like a chore. When something feels like a chore, you lose your interest. It is repetitive, and not very difficult, but it is quite a bit different from any other game on my shelf. L.A. Noire brings something new to the table, and perhaps its successors will provide superior gameplay, but one must remember that L.A. Noire provided the groundwork and architecture that revamped the genre.
Almost flawless. Voice acting is perfection. Music is period. City sounds like a real city, cars honk realistically. My only complaint is the radio. Seriously, I do NOT need to be blasting the music at full power while listening to my partner say something relevant to the case. I really don't want to take a point away from this, but it bugged the hell out of me.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: L.A. Noire (US, 05/17/11)
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