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Theres a corrupt cop in LA for every Tommy Burger knockoff.

  • Aug 15, 2011
  • by

Okay not really but a corrupt LAPD isn't anything new, so why play a game that has this as a plot point, because LA Noire is one of the most atmospheric games out there.

In the game, you play as Cole Phelps, a regular and decent cop who climbs the ranks into a detective and into the gross and greasy world of Los Angeles's fame, vices, and violent side.  Cases start off with simple murder investigations and spiral into OD victims, violent murder and arson cases.  In between you see glimpses of Cole's past in the Marines during WWII and if you find them, you can see newspaper headlines that open up another story.

Gameplay is solid for the most part.  Much like Rockstars other sandbox games, you can drive, scale walls, run, shoot and more.  This isn't an action game though, so the gun only comes out during action beats.  Most of the game has you traveling to locations to search for clues, talking to witnesses and asking them questions.  The facial capture technology in the game is key in determining who is lying or not.  You can believe the witness if you want, cast doubt on them to scare them into giving up something juicy or call them on they're lie where you can present evidance you've collected as proof of they're involvement.  The more questions you can get right, the more points you can collect to help make next the next interrogations a little easier.  Do your best to collect all the evidence and beware that not all evidence collected is important to the case.  You can't accuse someone of murder when you point to a knife when the murder was caused by strangulation now can you?   This is what most of the game consists of without much to break up the cases.  You can respond to street crimes, but it will involve you driving potentially across ALL OF LA to respond.  There are no mini games like bowling or boxing or a trip to the clubs to involve yourself in like other Rockstar games and for the hidden cars you can find, there is no reason in really driving them since they don't have police radios to keep you up to date on crimes.  Not unless you are a completest junkie.

The graphics are stunning and should win an award.  The aforementioned capture technology captures every nook and cranny on the actor's faces and replicates it on screen so that you can thoroughly investigate and interrogate your targets.  Do they look away from you or respond quick and dismissively?  That should point you in the direction of how to act.

Late 1940's LA is recreated VERY BEAUTIFULLY and it is engrossing to walk around in it and drive through it.  From Hollywood down to Central, Wilshire and anywhere else the game has a sunny look with that feeling of the once clean city of angels.  Old electronic stores, pawn shops, bars, bus stations, and even slummy flop houses look inviting to walk into.  The beautiful visuals only add to and compound the reverse that as you dig into a case involving murder, you can still look upon the city of kids playing outside and people going about they're business and wonder how these things can happen or even wonder who among them are guilty of something.

The music has all the voices matching they're characters, which is proof that this game was cast well.  The music has a jazzy feel to it and can kick in with snare drums for when the action cues kick in, the music and tempo changes appropriately.  Music can be used to help indicate where clues are when you are looking.

The game is not for all tastes however.  First of all, if you aren't into being a detective, you won't like it at all since that is what 90% of the game is.  Secondly the game is a little repetitive.  If what I described above doesn't grab you as far as being interesting, then you can get tired quick since the game is case by case with investigating, handling clues, talking to people with maybe an action beat, and thats it.  Third, the game is graphic.  No I'm not kidding you.  Many of your crime scenes depict gratuitous murders, and many of the victims later on are  dead and naked women.  Drug crimes have syringes and rubber ties depicting junkies and being the 40's, there is a good amount of racism and prejudice in the air as many black, Japanese and other minorities get the short end of the stick as far as treatment in the game.

LA Noire is engrossing, atmospheric and different but it is like a proverbial fine wine that you want to savor.  Play it a little at a time and then give it a rest so that you don't wear out the experience and have it end too quick.  There is plenty of game-play with cases and DLC's for download but the game can come to an end too quick and this is not an experience to wear out.  Unlike games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption there isn't the level of depth of engaging activities that those games had.  Sure you might not care about bowling a turkey in GTA, but at least that option is available.  More DLC is on the way and as you play, you will hope more and more is created to keep that moody feeling alive, as you are that one man who can make the difference, at least until your boss butts in and tells you that the man is the brother of someone powerful and can't be arrested.

Theres a corrupt cop in LA for every Tommy burger knockoff. Theres a corrupt cop in LA for every Tommy burger knockoff. Theres a corrupt cop in LA for every Tommy burger knockoff. Theres a corrupt cop in LA for every Tommy burger knockoff.

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August 15, 2011
Sounds cool and wow at the graphics! I'm tempted to check it out based on the positive reviews and all the hype around it, especially since it was the first video game to be recognized by the Tribeca film fest. Great review, John!
August 15, 2011
It's good. If you have both systems, get the PS3 one since the game was made for it to get the most out of the graphics and it's on only 1 disc as opposed to X Boxes 3.
January 05, 2012
If you haven't played this yet, the complete editions have been released for PS3 and XBox with all the DLC and the PC version as well with ENHANCED graphics reportedly. I didn't think the graphics could look much better but they supposedly are.
August 15, 2011
sweet review! Thanks for this, I know you didn't give it a perfect score, but it does sound like a game I could really get into. Wasn't this made by the guys who made GTA? Those guys know their platforms....
August 15, 2011
It was made by Rockstar but it's missing some play elements that make the GTA games like selectable weapons (you always start with your pistol) and like I said other then responding to crimes on the radio there are no side quests or games. Whats worse is safe driving is almost mandatory since you are a cop.
More LA Noire reviews
Quick Tip by . August 15, 2011
WW II Marine turned cop cruises the beat of the City of Angels in the late 40's to solve crimes and uncover corruption. Great game but needed a little more.
review by . May 19, 2011
L.A. Noire is the latest game from Rockstar, best known for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. It's a game that's both very similar to those and very, very different.    The main character of the game is Cole Phelps (Aaron Stratton, best known for his role as Ken Cogrove in Mad Men). Phelps is a WWII vet living in 1946 Los Angeles. He has recently become a police officer in the LAPD. He starts out as a beat cop and slowly works his way up through traffic …
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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About this video game


L.A. Noire is a gritty, single player detective game set on the infamous streets and in the smoke-filled back rooms of postwar Los Angeles. Designed and developed with a nod to the classic film noire movie genre, L.A. Noire blends crystal clear graphics that bring the iconic look and feel of the era to life, with a combination of innovative technology and unique gameplay that allow you to solve crimes through interrogations and investigation. Additional features include: five LAPD based crime desks to work, the ability to analyze the case as well as suspects for clues, an accurate block-by-block recreation of eight sq miles of 1947 Los Angeles, multiple difficulty settings and more.

L.A. Noire game logo

Amid the postwar boom of Hollywood's Golden Age, newly minted detective Cole Phelps is thrown headfirst into a city drowning in violence and corruption. Utilizing groundbreaking new technology that captures an actor's facial performance in astonishing detail, L.A. Noire is a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience. Interrogate witnesses, search for clues and chase down suspects as you struggle to find the truth in a city where everyone has something to hide.

A beat cop stopping you from entering a crime scene being investigated in L.A. Noire
Cross the police line to solve the worst crimes of Los Angeles' infamous postwar era.
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Against an overarching plot of violence and betrayal, L.A. Noire challenges players to solve a series of self-contained cases as they ...

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