L.A. Noire: Review

This game has intrigued me ever since the very first game play video emerged, but let’s face it, not everything that intrigues us will eventually turn out to be good, just like any STD really. Team Bondi has a very good reputation in the gaming industry and every time they are up to something people start hyping their release, and this title has generated more hype than flavored condoms. In simplistic terms, Team Bondi managed to create a game which is basically Heavy Rain rubbing one out on the bastard child of Broken Sword and Grand Theft Auto.

Plot: I cannot go in depth in the plot cause every single detail beyond what I'm going to write will spoil the story. Set in the late 40s this game revolves around the career of Officer Cole Phelps, progressing from a traffic officer all the way up to homicide and arson. Phelps served his country during World War 2, and tries to make up for his wrong doings by bringing justice to LA.

Game play: The game play of the game is a mixture of open world exploration and broken sword style clue gathering. Your main goal is to bring to justice the criminal in every case, by finding clues and interrogating suspects. The game focuses on your capabilities and intuition, but what I felt as being the Achilles Heel in the gameplay is that the game does not punish you for your mistakes but rather gives you another chance (unlike Heavy Rain were your mistakes will change the outcome of the story). You find clues by exploring the environments, and each time you find something the controller vibrates. The crappy aspect of this feature is that out of the one hundred things that vibrate the controller, only twelve are relevant, so 75% of the game you are stuck looking through heaps of dirty tampons and cigarette buds. During interrogations you basically ask the suspect a series of questions and you have to find out if he’s lying, in doubt or telling the truth. The reason behind having 'doubt' and 'lie' as separate categories is still a mystery to me. When accusing the suspect of lying you will have to present proof (which you gather from clues and other interrogations). Controlling the character in the open world is a nightmare you get stuck to invisible items most of the time and the controls do not always obey when you want them. The character feels heavy and the fighting aspect of the game play is as painful as passing a golf ball sized kidney stone. Like all other Rockstar games, driving a vehicle is like trying to drive a pissed off velociraptor on a limp, and this time you are penalized for the damage caused to the car and the city. Damage costs to the car seemed a bit far off, sometimes I generated up to $3000 worth of damages in an era where the whole car used to cost $ 1,500.

Audio and Video: I have to be honest, I have to applaud Team Bondi for the sheer beauty of the game’s visual aspect. The facial rendering and texture quality is breath taking . Most of the actors who portrayed the characters are easily recognized thanks to Team Bondi's use of motion capture through most of the game. The environments are vast, and the textures of the buildings and landmarks are spot-on and faithful to the era. The only flaws in the visuals can be seen in some of the characters' clothing, and the facial rendering of characters which have not been reproduced using motion capture is a bit awful. The game’s surround sound rendering is high in quality and the soundtrack used adds to the feel of the era. The only thing I have to complain about in the audio section is that sometimes the soundtrack drowns out the speech, and although you can decrease it during gameplay, you have to sit through it during cut scenes. The voice acting is good, but sometimes the main character turns from good cop to bad cop in seconds making him look like a type-A nut-case.

Personal Experience: I really wanted to give this game a high rating, because its one of the few games that is unique in a gaming generation made up by variations of the same crap, but the harsh reality is that L.A. Noire does not live up to today’s standards. Even though the visuals are amazing, the story-line is dragging and boring, and the gameplay is too bland to make you want to stick around. Lazy developers caused too many mistakes and glitches that eventually hold back the whole experience. The premise behind the game is fantastic, but the execution is poor, and with games fast becoming a cinematic experience too, a game simply cannot survive without a strong story line.

Overall Rating: 5 / 10

By Matthew Cesareo