Review: L.A. Noire
Deja Vu has ruined every single detective game that has ever been made. Nothing could live up to the legend Theodore "Ace" Harding and his world of intrigue and deception. Everyone kept telling me that L.A. Noire will change my mind about Deja Vu being the only good detective game in existence. Time to put on my stylish Brooks Brothers three-piece suit and fedora and jump back into the seedy world of dicks....hmm, that doesn't sound as good as I thought. L.A. Noire has "wow" factor when it comes to presentation. From the opening screens, menus, even in game with the detective notebook that you use to collect clues and info about the case you are working on. Everything Team Bondi did to make the world of L.A. Noire immersive was right on point. There were times when playing L.A. Noire, I forgot it was a game and for a split second I swear that Last Man Standing was on my screen. Ok, that was false but I really, really wanted it to be Bruce Willis on the screen. Even though my hopes of having Bruce Willis in L.A. Noire (maybe a sequel?) were all for naught, you still get to see a plethora of stars in game. I am terrible with names so don't ask me to mention them here but you will know them when you see them. That's how good the facial animation is in L.A. Noire. Besides creeping me out at times, the facial animations are so well done that it benefits the world L.A. Noire is setting for you.
With so much presentation, it's a shame that the story falls apart near the end. L.A. Noire does a great job at making you believe that Cole Phelps is a 'by the books' cop until near half way through the game where it comes off the rails a bit. Even with the flashbacks to Phelps' time in WWII, there is still not enough there to really make the change in the story believable. Usually, I play games late at night and being a nice guy, I use a headset so I can crank the volume loud. I noticed when I played L.A. Noire with the headset on, the audio seemed off to me. It sounded like someone was pushing buttons on a soundboard in queue with the game. Even some of the banter back and forth from characters in the game have different audio levels. I had to take of the headset to get immersed in the game again but still had that nagging feeling in the back of my brain of someone hitting buttons on the soundboard, sort of like this.
Gameplay is sort of a mixed bag for me. In the beginning, it was fun to search the crime scenes for clues, interrogating suspects and doing chases down back alleys trying to run down fleeing suspects. After about halfway through the game, the repetitive nature of doing the same thing for that long wore thin on my patience. Crime scenes became a walk in the park due to how L.A. Noire alerts you with a sound cue and controller feedback if you are near something you can look at. There is an option to turn of these hints but then you are left mashing the button walking everywhere in the crime scene. The interrogation should be fun but it seems like a hit or miss when it comes to figuring out if they are lying telling the truth by looking at their expressions. The evidence that they want you to use to prove if they are lying is either so blatantly obvious or it's so minute, it makes no sense. You can use intuition points that you earn when you level up to help you pick the right answer but it seemed to not help me most of the times. It almost made the interrogations feel like I was playing 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' with being able to narrow down what is the correct line of questioning as well as having the option to see the percentage of what people picked at the part of the game that I am in.
I have always said I love a good story in a game regardless if the rest of the game is terrible. L.A. Noire has a great story that falls apart in the end but by the time it falls apart, you are already heavily invested and are compelled to see it to the end. There are faults with the mechanics of the game as well, though not enough to turn me away from it. Hopefully Team Bondi will get another chance to fix what was wrong with L.A. Noire in a similar game down the road.