A look back at the seedy streets of 1940’s Los Angeles
Sharp pressed suits, cool cars, a brilliant cast, well-written dialogue and a thrilling crime detective drama. L.A. Noire has all of these and altogether it creates one of the most gripping experiences I played of the last generation.
“We’ve just received a message on the radio about a dead body in an alleyway, let’s go investigate Phelps”.
L.A. Noire had a long and turbulent development cycle. Work began on the game in 2004 but it was not revealed to be L.A. Noire until 2005. The game was planned to release for the PlayStation 3 and many assumed that it would be a launch title for the system. However the game would go through some times and was ultimately delayed. L.A. Noire switched publishers in 2006 from Sony to Rockstar Games and as you’d expect, this played a part in the game being delayed. One of the bigger reasons for L.A. Noire’s lengthy delay was that developer Team Bondi were creating revolutionary technology for the game. The tech called MotionScan would allow facial features to be accurately recorded and portrayed in-game. The end result was marvellous, the ground breaking technology that they created still holds up today, 6 years after it was released.
Now I could go on and on about L.A. Noire’s turbulent development cycle but I feel that we’ve delved enough into it. L.A. Noire was released in 2011 on May 17 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and was released for PC later that year. The game was met with critical acclaim from critics and fans and is somewhat a cult hit.
In L.A. Noire you play as Cole Phelps, an up-and-coming officer of the law who has a strong sense of justice. Phelps’ achievements eventually get him promoted from a “beat cop” to a detective and this is where the game starts to pick up the pace. You investigate several different categories of cases including Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson. Each category has a number of cases to investigate. Whilst working through the cases you’ll learn more about Phelps and the overarching story.
I would like to talk more about the story but with L.A. Noire getting re-released for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, I don’t want to ruin it for people who are going to play it for the first time. I will say though if you want a good crime detective drama with an absolutely cracking story then L.A. Noire will be perfect for you.
Whilst I have refrained myself from writing about L.A. Noire’s story, I can write about the game’s mechanics and my experiences with it.
The game’s biggest and best mechanic are the questioning/ interrogation sections. In these tense moments of gameplay, Phelps will talk to the person or suspect and will ask a series of questions. The amount of questions sometimes relies on picking up certain pieces of evidence as sometimes lines of questioning aren’t known until a piece of evidence of is obtained. (More on the evidence collecting later). It is during these sections that the facial animations come into play. When you question a person three options will appear on the screen; Truth, Lie and Doubt. To determine if a person is telling the truth, knows more than they are letting on or if they are lying outright, you have to consult your notebook and/ or look at the person’s facial expressions. Thanks to the brilliant MotionScan technology behind the facial animations, the interrogation sections are very good fun and add a level of tension to the gameplay. Also I’d like to say the interrogations are bloody good fun.
Each case has at least one crime scene for you to investigate and to find evidence relating to the crime committed. Everything that you can pick up can be inspected some to degree. Picking something up might not lead to the clue straight away, it might need to manipulated in order for the evidence to reveal itself. A good example of this is in one of the Vice cases, you will search a room where there are paper cups, TIP: the evidence is taped underneath the cup. You will also inspect the bodies of those at the scene of the crime to find evidence that could solve the case. All evidence that you obtain will be jotted down in the notebook where you can put the evidence found to good use in interrogations. The evidence that you find can be used to reinforce yourself when you accuse a suspect of lying.
I have many memories of L.A. Noire but one of the fondest that I have is playing the game in the living room with my mom and dad watching. My parents love detective thrillers and with them playing games themselves, L.A. Noire was a game that caught their interest. As I was playing and replaying the cases my parents initiated their hawk-like eyes and would tell me to pick up anything that looked suspicious when I was in a crime scene.
Things became hilarious during the interrogations, my mom and dad were quite vocal and vulgar. “Throw the book at him!”. “He’s fucking guilty!”. “Put him in the slammer”. So there’s a few examples of what my mom and dad said and as you’d could imagine it was extremely hard to keep a straight face. They didn’t do this during my first playthrough of the cases in L.A. Noire because they wanted to get the story but when I went to 100% each case, all hell broke loose. I did 100% each case by the way, got every piece evidence and I correctly branched every question in every case. I’m bloody proud of that achievement.
I don’t like to brag but I 100% L.A. Noire, an achievement I’m goddamn proud of.
It’s been six years since the release of L.A. Noire and I still love replaying it. It’s getting a re-release that is out on November 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. I think the re-release is a good idea as it could attract people who didn’t play the original, especially Nintendo players who may have missed on L.A. Noire because they might not have owned any of the previous systems it was originally released on.
As I said it’s been six years since the release of L.A. Noire and we have yet to hear of a sequel. Rockstar own the rights to the IP but unfortunately developer Team Bondi are no more. I think we will get a sequel to L.A. Noire at some point in the future given its cult status but I can’t be the only person that hopes that it arrives sooner rather than later.
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