By Nickolas Brooks
Captured Images by Nickolas Brooks
(SPOILER WARNING! Do not read this review if you are interested in playing these games for yourself!)
L.A. Noire is a neo-noir, action adventure game created by Sydney, Au. based company, Team Bondi. This was a team that was originally funded by Sony Computer Entertainment Australia, but was then switched over to Rockstar Games (best known Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, Red Dead Redemption, Bully, Manhunt, Midnight Club and The Warriors). The game was released on May 17, 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Nov. 8 that same year for Steam and on Nov. 14, 2017 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.
Team Bondi was founded in 2003 but went defunct in 2011 due to allegations toward its founder, Brendan McNamara, for poor working conditions. This controversy led to Bondi and Rockstar parting ways after the game’s release. Regardless, the game received critical acclaim by fans and critics alike for its storytelling and facial animation technology.
L.A. Noire was the first video game ever to be presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
L.A. Noire takes place in 1947, following protagonist Cole Phelps (voiced by Aaron Staton, best known for his role as Ken Cosgrove in the AMC original series Mad Men), a World War II veteran who is working as a patrol officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. After he successfully solved a murder case, he gets promoted to being a detective, which leads to the growth of his reputation for solving cases regarding homicide and trafficking. Two notable cases Phelps gets involved in are the Black Dahlia case and a military surplus drug case that involves Mickey Cohen.
This game is played in a third-person perspective that consists of scenarios that are arranged together to be straightforward, with a series of steps that leads to the conclusion of every case. At the end of every case, the player will be given a star rating based on how well their performance was in each case, how much property was damaged and how many civilians were harmed. The player can also engage in optional activities if backup is called-in on the car’s radio; these calls mostly consist of shootouts.
In each case, the player will ask witnesses and potential suspects questions. While Phelps asks these questions, the other person will answer them, which will lead to the player being given three options on how to respond based on the witness’ or suspect’s facial expressions. The player can choose to go with what they are saying, or they can choose to doubt them or provide evidence if they are lying.
L.A. Noire is noted as the first game to introduce motion capture mechanics into a video game, using technology called MotionScan, developed by Depth Analysis. For this case, they used several cameras to capture every angle for each actor. This technology plays a major role within the gameplay since it will require the player to look at the facial expressions of witnesses and suspects so they can determine if they are lying or not.
The soundtrack for L.A. Noire has an original score crafted by the Hale Brothers, Simon and Andrew, but also contains licensed songs by artists such as Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. The score is inspired by 1940s noir films, filled with suspenseful tunes that will alert a player if they are near evidence or if they pick the right or wrong decision while questioning a witness or suspect. Just the first few seconds of the main theme itself is very jazzy and noir-like.
I am giving L.A. Noire a 9/10 for its storytelling, gameplay, mechanics, soundtrack and the tension of every conflict that occurs with each case. However, I do think the graphics are a little low quality at times, but it is something I can forgive since the game came out in 2011.
If you want to try out L.A. Noire, then go on ahead and buy it! It is available right now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, the Nintendo Switch and Steam.