Rockstar have amazed the general gaming public in the past with their Grand Theft Auto series and western epic, Red Dead Redemption. However, something new and different was on the horizon; LA Noire, a video game which truly set itself out to be Rockstar’s most ambitious project yet. Set in 1940s Los Angeles, you play as detective Cole Phelps – who is set to rise above the ranks and rid the streets of crime. A new motion capture technology is used for the game, which helps the player distinguish whether or not a suspect is lying or telling the truth. Thankfully, it pays off.
You may recognise Cole Phelps as Aaron Staton, from the critically acclaimed series Mad Men. A few familiar faces turn up throughout, such as John Noble (Walter Bishop, Fringe) and Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman, Heroes). With such a great cast and a deep enriching story, LA Noire easily becomes an experience which rivals any Hollywood film.
It is your typical sandbox fare but this time round the city may be the biggest yet. Thankfully the developers have allowed for travel to be easy, with your partner now being able to drive to certain places for you. This makes travelling around a large city easier but if you’re one for admiring the sheer amount of detail which was put into 1940s LA, then do not hesitate to drive around. It seems like the driving mechanics have improved since GTA4, which was a minor complaint from fans. There will be many instances of needing a careful eye for manoeuvring past obstacles when chasing suspects across the streets, with sequences which ultimately become exciting and never tiresome.
Having taken many hints from previous games, the ever needed cover ability is used throughout many gunfights in the game. There’s a nice little range of guns to be used, especially during the final case. You can never pull your gun at any time, and these action sequences can be skipped for those with just a demand for the more investigative approach.
Interrogating suspects is where LA Noire truly shines, as even slight facial twitches can allow you to judge whether or not a suspect is lying or telling the truth. It is remarkable how well the character’s motions are captured and their likeness towards their real life counterparts is almost seamless. This technique really brings a fresh take on gaming as a whole as emotions can be portrayed perfectly and hopefully this will be picked up in the future as it revolutionises the way characters can be depicted.
Investigating a crime scene is always interesting, as slight chimes or vibrations clue you in on finding specific items which are important for a case. These investigations truly stand out when you begin the Black Dahlia case, as horrific circumstances have to be analysed carefully for a final report. If you’re familiar with the popular Shenmue series which debuted on the Dreamcast, then you’ll recognise the similarities between picking up various items. You can manipulate them to discover further evidence and this all ends up as being a rewarding experience as a detective.
The story itself never falters and manages to keep players entertained throughout. Whilst expectations are met with the Black Dahlia Case, the final investigation builds up to an epic finish which is set to impress. Friendships are earned and lost and the different selection of partners keeps it fresh. Cole Phelps isn’t exactly an angel either, so it’s nice to have such a great, yet flawed detective. Thankfully the story manages to be rather lengthy and additional street crimes keep the gameplay continuing for a long time.
All in all, is this the game of the year? It certainly may be. Rockstar manages to bring something new to the table with a very ambitious project, which reaches out and grabs players to be dropped in a stunning 1940s LA. With clever storytelling and flawless gameplay, LA Noire becomes one of Rockstar’s best games yet. As has been mentioned before, it is a video game that finally rivals Hollywood. The future for this new motion capture technology may be promising and hopefully it will be applied to more games. Here’s to the future instalments of LA Noire and their next project.