Review: L.A. Noire. 1940’s style meets 21st century tech

Rockstar Games have always pushed the envelope of what PC and console games are capable of. From bringing us massively deep worlds in the Grand Theft Auto series, to the gripping storylines found in games like Max Payne, and even taking stops along the way to make smaller games like Table Tennis. In L.A. Noire, Rockstar pushes the envelope again with an enthralling story of heroism, betrayal, crime, justice, and deception, where knowing the difference between the truth and a lie is the key to succeeding, and they pull it off masterfully.

The City of Angels

(Warning: minor spoilers ahead, to avoid them, skip to the next page)

Detective Cole Phelps

Once again, Rockstar has succeeded in creating a truly amazing world that is more detailed than you’ll ever be able to notice. Their recreation of 1940’s Los Angeles is nothing short of stunning. From the architecture, clothing, and cars, to the music, dialogue, and storyline, Rockstar has clearly spent a great deal of time researching the era to recreate it with a level of detail that will often times leave you in awe. From beginning to end, the settings and actions of the game ring true to the post WWII era in the crime riddled city of Los Angeles.

The story follows the rise of the protagonist, Cole Phelps, who at the start is just a lowly patrolman for the LA police department. Fueled by the desire to make the city and the world a better place for Americans, Phelps starts on a journey to become one of the greatest detectives the city has ever seen. Right off the bat, you’re thrown into a case, where the game teaches you how to hunt for clues to solve the crime at hand. Personally, it was quite jarring to move from the wrong side of the law, as is tradition in most Rockstar games, to the side that enforces the law. Playing the GTA series all these years has trained me to mow down civilians as soon as I’m given a car. This is not the case in L.A. Noire. Since you’re a cop, you’ll be warned every time you injure a civilian. The game never really punishes you for hitting people (at least not that I’ve notice) but a strongly worded message will appear when you do knock over some poor sap, letting you know that you’re playing for the good guys this time.

Without going into too much detail, I’ll say this, the story, while slow for a good chunk of the game, is a solid one. If you bought the Xbox version of the game, you can rest assured that you won’t really get into the major story arc until disc three (Yes, there are 3 discs for the Xbox version). That being said, discs one and two aren’t a total wash either. The plot through disc one and two rely heavily on whatever detective department you’re working for at the time (Patrol, Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson). The cases you’ll solve may be slightly repetitive, but in order to truly appreciate what the cases have to offer, you’ll need to rethink the way you approach this game. I’ll explain more in the gameplay section.

5 thoughts on “Review: L.A. Noire. 1940’s style meets 21st century tech

    1. I had friends over at one point. They were rude and kept talking over dialogue scenes. It drove me nuts, so I’d suggest locking yourself away so you can pay attention to everything.

        1. I was thinking about getting this game, but did not for the very same reason. No way Tate is going to let me play this.

          On the plus side, he has become very adept at playing Zelda: Twilight Princess. He doesn’t understand the plot of the game, but he loves all the mini-games, riding the horse, and “getting rid of the naughty guys” with the sword (after dispatching each one, he tells them “sorry”). I can take no credit for this, it was his aunt, my sister-in-law, who taught him how to play. Watching him work the Wii controllers with his little 3 year old hands is a riot.

  1. As soon as I saw the first picture I thought “Holy shit, it’s Cosgrove!”

    I want to get this game, but I’m torn. I really want to get the Borderlands:GOTY with all of the DLC included through Steam. I already have it for my Xbox, but no one I know still plays it on the Xbox and I’d rather play shooters on my PC.

    Also, I don’t know that I would have the patience to play through anything that takes up 3 disks these days.

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