Rockstar Games, the company responsible for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, have released their newest title, L.A. Noire, a game that puts you in the shoes of Detective Cole Phelps as he climbs the ranks of the 1947 Los Angeles Police Department. Holding fast to the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” L.A. Noire rehashes much of Rockstar’s standard modus operandi: a great big sandbox world you can run around in, side quests to help waste your time and a respectably healthy story that sticks true to the theme they aim for. So the question remains — what makes L.A. Noire stand out?
Well, for starters, there is the interview/interrogation process. The technology behind this is revolutionary and extremely engaging, if at times a bit creepy; the system can be finicky though.
In response to each witness statement — some of which are paragraphs long — you need to accept it as truth, doubt its veracity or make accusations of lies backed up by previously found evidence.
Where this becomes problematic is the difference between doubting and accusing the individual of lying is not always self-evident. During one interview with a witness, for example, I had two pieces of evidence that the perp’s alibi was not so airtight. Thinking that all my time watching crime dramas was finally going to pay off, I confidently selected a film over an eyewitness account. To this day I’m not sure if I was supposed to use the eyewitness report or doubt the person I was interrogating. As time goes on, however, you develop “L.A. Noire logic” and begin to gain a better handle on what, in particular, you are supposed to be looking for.
Another one of LA Noire’s standout features is the partner.
For the vast majority of this game you are given a partner, and while this individual changes over the course of the story, it is a neat feature that serves as a source of advice and help for resolving crime scenes and figuring out how to proceed. It also allows for a significant amount character development both on the part of Detective Phelps and the rest of the cast of characters. A key part of this, though, is that you actually feel like you are a cop and this is your partner — a huge selling point for immersion. The downsides, however, are the occasionally clunky excuses for Phelps doing an interview instead of his much more experienced partner and, just like in GTA titles, you will undoubtedly run over your partner while the A.I. attempts to get into the squad car.
This may or may not be by accident.
Other than this, the game is mostly in line with GTA and Red Dead: you will drive around big locales, you will shoot people and you will express a complete disregard for most traffic laws. The takeaway here should be that Rockstar deserves props for continuing to push the technological envelope, and if you are at all interested in criminal dramas, noire stories or simply a Rockstar fan, you should pick up the game. Problems exist, but the story is well written and with a little enthusiasm it is easy to brush past all the nitpicking errors.