By Michael WORKMAN
Rockstar Games titles are some of the most anticipated game releases and “L.A. Noire” is no exception. Though Rockstar Games are famous for the controversial “Grand Theft Auto” franchise, L.A. Noire takes a departure from the mindless mayhem and creates a game that is more story-driven and emphasizes puzzle solving.
Set in 1947 Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood but also the height of crime, corruption, and murder, “L.A. Noire” draws an easy parallel to Curtis Hanson’s award-winning film “L.A. Confidential.”
The player takes on the role of Cole Phelps, a decorated WWII veteran who has joined the LAPD to clean up the city, but it’s looking like it may take more than just one honest cop to do that. The player starts as a patrolman and through finding clues, interrogating suspects and solving crimes rises to traffic, homicide, vice, and arson detective. The game combines fast paced action and careful detective work to solve cases. Using the new MotionScan technology the graphics play a big role in the gameplay as players are tasked to interview suspects and read their reactions to determine if they are telling the truth.
As the player observes the suspect’s uncomfortably shifting body, avoiding eye contact, and displaying subtle twitches it is revealed that the perp is hiding something. Depending on how they react players can decide if they are telling the truth, doubt them by threatening them, or call them out on a lie. Finding the correct response can open up new details that can be critical in solving cases and also award intuition points which help the player find clues they may have missed or remove a wrong answer during questionings.
At some instances words fail and the player is forced into a combat situation or a chase. If the suspect is unarmed a fistfight can break out and the player will have to dodge and deliver punishing counters to subdue the bad guys.
Of course it’s not a Rockstar game without a little shootout action, but unlike other Rockstar games you cannot go on killing sprees or run over helpless pedestrians – you are a cop after all. Players will have access to their weapon only when the enemy has weapons as well. When a shootout occurs players will have to find cover and use deadly force to take down gunmen armed to the teeth. The player has a standard pistol on them at all times but can pick up any weapon the enemy drops during battle.
Overall “L.A. Noire” is a thrilling look at the ugly past of the City of Angels. Packed with amazing writing, the story is the true star of this show. A series of murders will keep you guessing as to who is behind it all or if more than one person is involved. As the player progresses, it becomes obvious that things are not as clear as once thought and those seemingly closed cases may force the player to come to grips with the idea that the wrong guy may have been sent to the gas chamber.
I would highly recommend this game to anyone who has ever played with the idea of being a crime-solving detective.
“L.A. Noire” richly deserves a 5/5.
An avid gamer,
Michael Workman is a resident of the Crescenta Valley. He can be reached at