L.A. Noire is Rockstar Games’ latest title (the people that brought you Grand Theft Auto series) and was developed in conjunction with Team Bondi. It’s set in post-WW2 L.A. in the year 1947 – it’s the time of glamour and fame, but also of crime and corruption.
You play as Cole Phelps a new police officer in the LAPD and you start on the lowest desk – the patrol desk. From there, you have four other “desks” (options) in the campaign: Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson. The Patrol desk cases act as a tutorial for the game, teaching you the skills you need to play, case by case, such as driving, running, searching for clues and – of course – shoot-outs. Once you complete the four tutorial cases you get promoted to Traffic and start work with your new partner on new cases. Cases comprise of a few parts: hunting for clues, when you get to a crime scene you will need to find clues which will need to put the criminals to jail; gathering information – sources including family members of the victim(s), witnesses and suspect(s). When questioning them for this information you have three choices of how Phelps takes the information that they give him – “truth”, “doubt” and “lie”. Obviously Rockstar thinks in terms of grey rather than black and white, but it’s up to you to figure out how ambiguous the lying is.
- “Of course… why do they always run?!”
Depending on how you go in the questions it will open up paths for the investigations to follow. If you choose incorrectly, you may miss leads that are important to the case, but if you manage to get the questions right it will obviously speed the process up. Free-roam is only available to you once you have completed a desk. To access it you need to go to the main menu and then the case, selecting a case folder you have completed and the free roam is listed in there. However if you are in the middle of a case and you are driving between locations for the case you are in you are free to take as much time as you want. In this time you can respond to street crimes that get called to you over the radio in your police car, drive around to find landmarks, rare cars or golden film reels – the usual in-game collectables that encourage exploration.
Because this game is set in the era that it is, there isn’t a GPS system as such. You can still pull up the map and set waypoints, but there is no line drawn on a mini map showing you how to get there. However when driving with your partner if you press X he will tell you directions on the best way to get to your waypoint or case location. L.A. Noire uses Sydney-based Depth Analysis’ newly-developed technology called MotionScan. This technology is used to create high-resolution 3D recreations by having high definition cameras surround the actor and capture their facial expressions. In English – by using this technology on the characters in the game it helps the player to make their decisions about whether suspect/source is telling the truth or lying, by giving them detailed facial reconstructions of the actor saying the lines. Each time you complete a case you will receive experience points, these points affect your rank. Each time you increase in rank you will be rewarded with Intuition points. Intuition points can also be earned by discovering landmarks, and other ways. These points can be used to remove incorrect answers in an interrogating or questioning session, helping locate all the clues at a crime scene or asking the Rockstar Social Club during a questioning. Hidden throughout L.A. there are many collectibles and hidden items, experience points or intuition points up for grabs, and as usual, as well as getting the points they also count towards Achievements.
- Look at the serenity
Currently the only downloadable content that is available is that which came if you had pre-ordered the game, but there has been two more cases announced that will be available in the near future to download, Nicholson Electroplating and Reefer Madness. The cases themselves cost 320 Microsoft points to purchase off Xbox Live and the suits are 80 a piece. However if you think that you are going to be purchasing all of the DLC you can spend 800 MS to get the L.A. Noire Rockstar Pass which entitles you to all of the current DLC plus Nicholson Electroplating Arson Case and Reefer Madness Vice Case when they are released.
There is no multiplayer in this game, which in this case I thought a blessing, because I don’t see how it would have fit together with the gameplay. Even though there is no multiplayer, this title uses the Rockstar Games Social Club. With this players can compare their in-game results against friends, and check out how much of the game they have completed. The social club also offers exclusives in-game such as bonus items, or multiplayer events which players can take part in.
All in all, LA Noire is yet another solid offering from Rockstar. A great amount of concentration and lateral thinking is required – if you think you can get away with trying to do a few things at once, chances are you have missed something in this game. Whilst it’s not your usual GTA-style adventure we’ve become accustomed to, LA Noire is an enjoyable experience that once again shows that Rockstar won’t be pidgeon-holed into a particular style of game. Well worth the time to explore.