Since the release of L.A. Noire two weeks ago, people have been constantly asking me what I think of the game, and where my review is. L.A. Noire is a vast universe of exploration and interrogation that I needed to play in full before even attempting to put my thoughts together on paper. With all there is to see and do, you can easily lose yourself for 40 hours. So the review is a little behind schedule, but to make up for it, our friends at Rockstar have given us some free stuff to give away. Read on to find out if L.A. Noire is worthy of your time, and to win free shit!
Entries in team bondi (6)
Oh hell no, girlfriend. You did not just investigate a homicide case! Mmmmmm-hmmmm!
L.A. Noire is set for release in less than a week, next Tuesday May 17. What better way to get you to preorder than with this, a shiny new launch trailer! Said trailer is all about the drama, baby. Car accidents, guns, yelling, guns, dramatic camera angles, yelling, guns! I can't take it any more!
Try not to be fooled by the trailer. If you go into L.A. Noire thinking you're going to get a weapon-heavy Grand Theft Auto fueled kill-spree, you will be disappointed. Me? I'm actually relieved that L.A. Noire goes more the route of drama and crime scene investigation than it does mindless violence and escort missions.
Preorder while you still can!
My opinion of L.A. Noire has been on an upswing lately. The more I see of it, the more I realize Team Bondi and Rockstar are genuinely trying something different. So for that, respect knuckles. Yet for some reason, there is a bit of worry in the back of my mind. Like Red Dead Redemption before, I thought L.A. Noire was going to slap on a coat of 1947 to Grand Theft Auto 4 and call it a day. After previewing a good chunk of gameplay, I am now assured that this is not the case, in fact it's almost the complete opposite. What appears to be a greatly detailed story is accompanied by investigation and interrogation gameplay, with action taking a back seat.
Fans of the CSI will love this stuff. You arrive at the crime scene, and survey the area, doing everything from questioning beat cops and coroners, shooing off pesky journalists, and inspecting evidence for clues to cracking the case. Relevant information such as case notes are stored in your journal, which acts as a menu screen, where you can assign active objectives and keep log of all records to track back to in the event that you have any questions about any case you've undertaken, past or present.
The journal is handy when interrogating suspects, whom you pepper with questions and must judge whether their responses are truth, lie, or if they're not giving it to you straight. Of course, the MotionScan technology allows characters to show truly honest emotion with incredibly detail, making it a joy to try to read your suspect's expressions and habits while trying to catch them in a lie. Of course, this is detective work. You can't just point your finger, call them a liar, and have them locked up and sent to Alcatraz. You need evidence! How do you know the man across from you hired someone to kill his wife? A quick look to you journal reminds you of the ominous sounding note written by the man, found in his apartment. Book 'em, Danno.
I was told the game's action -- fist fighting, and shooting -- is a reward of sorts for good investigative work. I was shown a scene where after successfully accusing a man of the crimes committed, he jumped up and started throwing punches at our newly promoted homicide detective, Cole Phelps. The brawling was in typical GTA fashion it seemed, nothing really special to note. Which is one of the reasons why I hope it's held to a minimum. The demo didn't show any gunplay, which is said to be a "last resort" but I can't imagine it being done differently at all, or playing a prominent role in the game. Fingers crossed for a Private Eye mode, where time slows and you can paint your targets before unleashing a hail of hot lead. That's some Red Dead sarcasm, folks.
With that said, will L.A. Noire appeal to the average gamer, or will it be a conflict of interest for generation kill? Heavy Rain tried to make a game feel more like a movie, and while it did well critically, it lacked commercial middle ground, with gamers either loving or hating it. While not nearly as dramatic a departure from typical gaming as Heavy Rain, L.A, Noire is putting the focus on something other than running, shooting, flying, slashing, jumping, or anything like that. Rockstar has faith that gamers are ready to explore the life of a homicide detective by questioning suspects, following leads, and inspecting evidence. While I was once skeptical of throwing $60 on another Grand Theft Auto clone, I'm actually convinced that it's different enough to warrant a buy. Now my eyebrow is arched toward you, gamers, and whether or not you're ready to accept a game like L.A. Noire.
I'm getting such a kick out of Heroes' Matt Parkman featured as a character in L.A. Noire. If you're unfamiliar with Heroes, Matt Parkman (who I hated, by the way) was a police detective with the power to read and later control minds. He also had a rocky relationship with his wife. So in L.A. Noire, the likeness of Mr. Parkman is just a normal dude with the tables turned on the situations I was most used to seeing him in when Heroes was on TV and not terrible. He's clearly uncomfortable being interrogated about possibly having an affair. Where yo' powers at now, sucka?!
With that out of the way, we can talk about the actual game, which is looking more interesting. The interrogation scenes appear to be a neat -- and integral -- part of gameplay. This is good, it's something to set it aside from being just another Grand Theft Auto clone. With more situations of investigation and interrogation, and less GTA-styled running, gunning, driving, and relationship jobs shoe-horned in, L.A. Noire stands a better chance. At least in my eyes.
The only problem I see with the path Team Bondi and Rockstar is taking, is that players will be alienated. As overdone as the GTA style is, I suppose it's what people want. After all, look how incredibly successful Red Dead Redemption was, being pretty much a reskinned Grand Theft Auto IV. L.A. Noire is trying to blur the line between movies and games, in Heavy Rain fashion, although perhaps less obviously. Today's gamer is immature and uncultured. There was no middle ground for Heavy Rain, the public either loved it or hated it. People don't want a movie experience in their game, they want blood, headshots, and nuclear explosions. Amirite?
Is the average gamer ready for investigation and interrogation? We'll find out when L.A. Noire ships in North America on May 17th.
On May 14th 2011, close to 9 years of development will finally come to fruition. L.A. Noire has a release date now, and it looks like nothing is going to stop Rockstar and Team Bondi from finally bringing their vaporware Lazarus to the teeming masses.
The more I see and hear about L.A. Noire, the less skeptical I become. Actually, maybe skeptical isn't the right word. I still don't know whether or not it'll be my type of game, per se, or even what the gameplay will be. At first, I began to dismiss it because I worried it would be another Grand Theft Auto clone, but that's looking less like the case as more information makes itself available. The emphasis on detective work and reading facial expressions to judge a suspect's story is a fresh, interesting addition, no doubt. So the question has become, will be game be any fun?
L.A. Noire may be steering down the path of Heavy Rain, in the genre that is almost more movie than game. I know a lot of people enjoyed Heavy Rain, but I also know an equal amount downright hated it. Was it too much of a movie for some? Perhaps. Will L.A. Noire see the same outcome? Honestly, it's hard to say. While all the trailers and screenshots have been comprised solely of mouth-watering in-game footage, none have really showed what the meat will consist of. The graphics are obviously of the highest grade, and the story seems like no slouch, but I wonder what the game will play like.
Gamers have already waited close to a decade, only 4 months more until the big payoff. We'll have more info as it becomes available to us.
Rockstar is billing this L.A. Noire trailer as it's first, but I have to respectfully disagree, as there was a trailer released almost four years ago, which we jogged your memory with earlier this week.
Technicalities aside, L.A. Noire looks astounding. The photorealism captured in the characters is on a new level it seems, not only in the minute facial details, but the expressions and how they convey exactly what the character is feeling, as paralleled by their voice. It creates a lovely bond between the player and the characters, allowing you to easier feel for them during their anxiety, pain, and happiness. Rockstar makes a point to mention that the entire trailer is comprised of in-game footage, and can you blame them? I don't know if I've seen a game that looks quite this good.
Of course, it's about more than just OMGRAPHIX. The game needs depth, it needs to play solidly and have a kick ass storyline to match its vanity. Is a 1947, realistic Los Angeles, GTA-sandbox adventure going to cut it? I say no, but the masses would disagree. There's also mention of a detective mechanic of sorts, which would make sense, seeing as how you take the role of a gumshoe doing his thing amongst a corrupt LAPD.
If you notice, there's some the grit to the vocal tracks, as if they weren't recorded with the newest, clearest mics and mixers, which I like. It suits the piece well, but it doesn't suit the visuals. Since clearly they don't plan to present the game in black and white or even desaturated colors, a film grain or element of roughness is needed on the visual side to match the aural. Either that, or get clean voices. I say go with the former. Fortunately, that's a quick fix, which I hope Team Bondi has waiting for us. Right?