Most games takes you out for a wild ride to do things that’s out of order in the normal, real world. Things that would get you arrested real quickly. L.A. Noire takes you out for a trip to solve mysteries and other crimes – and to chase down and interrogate the suspect or possible witnesses.
I’ve been talking to a vast number of people, and most of them simply loved the game – the few that wasn’t amused by the game expected a new installment in the GTA franchise – this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Your characters name is Cole Phelps, and you’ve just been hired on the police force as road patrol. Cole and his partner gets a call from dispatch – a murder has happened, and you aren’t far from the crime scene. Cole’s partner decides to take the call. From here, you have to drive from crime scene to crime scene and investigate. As you progress you will get promoted and you’ll experience more advanced and complicated cases.
Partner in crime
Along the way you will meet a variety of colourful characters, including partners that will follow you everywhere, but you get a new partner every time you advance in the game and get assigned on a new team. Your captain promoted you from road patrol to traffic, and because Cole do so well all the time, you’ll soon be on homocide, investigating intriguing murders with a lot of clues left behind by the murderer.
A really big part of the game is interviewing witnesses and interrogate suspects. Team Bondi has been working hard to make something innovating for the gaming world – you have to decide if the witness or suspect is lying or telling the truth, based on their facial expressions.
Nobody is perfect, and this goes for the police as well. Back in the 40’s there wasn’t such thing as fingerprints and DNA testing. The detectives had to go down and get dirty, looking for clues like cuts and bruises – for solving the cases you have to get a confession from a suspect or have enough clues and evidence to close a case. Sometimes the clues and evidence were planted to make someone else take the fall, and by that the guilty goes free. It was like that back then, and this makes the game even more genuine.
Bondi have been using a new technology, called MotionScan where the actor has been surrounded by 32 cameras to record and scan the facial expressions. There’s lot of space for improvement – I can’t wait to see what they are coming up with next.
Soaking in all the experience
You don’t have to drive from place to place, as Team Bondi included an option to let your partner drive, and the game cuts to the arriving point – even custom waypoints works, and for collectors, achievement whores and trophy maniacs this will cut a lot of time driving.
Like in the Mafia II game, I really liked driving from place to place – the city is beautiful, and the AI is better then I’ve ever experienced. Having your siren on? Cars in movement in front of you will change lanes, and cars will stop at intersections, so that you can blast through. Scripted crashes during car chases is neat and surprising, which really adds to the story.
On crime scenes you have to search for clues, and those will open up for locations and questions you need for further investigation, and eventually you will solve the case. One little tip; listen to your partner and your boss, and listen well as they give a lot of great clues, and decisions to solve the cases the best possible way – you’ll get a rating at the end of every case. Watch your partner on crime scenes, they might be looking at a clue you haven’t discovered yet, and if you are stuck, you can always ask your partner for help.
When I started to explore more instead of going from case to case, I felt that I was back in 2001 playing Grand Theft Auto III again. There is much you can do, but there’s also much you can’t do. When I realized that I couldn’t take a plane and fly over the city, nor take the tram to my destination, I was saddened.
Details and Polish
At my second playthrough, to get top rating in the cases, I realized that interviews and interrogations wasn’t changing that much. There is a few lines you can miss, which means you can miss a clue, but you will get plenty of opportunities to get other leading clues later in the case – ultimately the cases will end the same way, no matter how bad or well you are doing in the case.
It was fun to go from case to case, but the experience was more of a movie than a game, because of the many and lengthy cutscenes in the game. This does not ruin the game, but for gamers with OCD or just generally impatient people this might pose a problem. I see myself as patient, especially when the story is vital for the game – but there were times were I just wanted the cutscene to end so that I could get on with the game.
The personalities and funny remarks from Cole’s partners does really add to the experience, and you’ll quickly make assumptions and denounce them. I know I did, and I was right the most of the time – the story slowly reveals the plot for the player, and this is what I love about the game.
The game does reference to the noire genre, and I would agree that many aspects does fit into this – the atmosphere, time and place is right, but you are playing in colors. Protip; You can change this in the settings if you want to play in black and white.