Let me start by getting this out of the way first thing, L.A. Noire was NOT developed by Rockstar, it was developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar. What does this mean? Well, if you’re expecting to go into L.A. Noire and play Grand Theft Auto Cops Edition, then you’re in for a huge disappointment. The only thing Grand Theft Auto about L.A. Noire is the open world, that’s about it. Now that you have that out of your mind I’ll continue.
In L.A. Noire you play as Cole Phelps, one of L.A.’s fastest rising officers. In a city filled with rape, murders, and every other kind of crime you can think of, it’s up to you to hit the streets and clean things up. You’re given cases and expected to solve them in a timely manner, by searching crime scenes for clues, interrogating witnesses, and getting your hands dirty chasing down criminals.
The first thing I’d like to point out, is that L.A. Noire is gorgeous, especially the facial animations, they’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a video game. They’re so good that you’re able to tell whether a suspect or witness is lying or not just by watching their facial expressions. You’ll come to rely on this heavily throughout the game.
Once your fascination with the facial features starts to wear off you’ll start to realize there really isn’t a whole lot to L.A. Noire, sure the city is huge, and there are plenty of cases to solve, but they end up becoming quite repetitive. Half way into L.A. Noire I realized I was in trouble. I was already starting to get bored. It became the same thing over and over, start out with murder briefing, drive a long way to crime scene, investigate crime scene, head to next spot to interrogate witnesses, make arrest, accuse suspect.
Driving in L.A. Noire was probably the thing that bothered me the most, and unfortunately, you end up doing a lot of it. The cars drive terrible, you feel like you’re inside a pinball machine, bouncing off of every object, because the cars turn so sloppy. Most of my cases I ended up with very large amounts of property damage, because I wasn’t able to keep my car away from other vehicles or buildings. Sure you have a siren you can use, but make sure you don’t turn it on while you’re alongside other cars, because they immediately head to the right, which most of the time was right into me.
One thing I enjoyed was the side missions in L.A. Noire, while working a case, you’ll get a call over the radio about a crime in process, and you have the option to join in and assist a fellow officer. Unfortunately for the criminal, 99% of my side missions ended in their death.
Gunplay is a lot of fun in L.A. Noire; unfortunately, you don’t get to use it as much as I’d hoped. In the beginning and by far one of my favorite missions was one that was filled with plenty of bad guys to shoot and lots of explosions. Sadly this doesn’t happen very often throughout the game.
Overall L.A. is a great game; you definitely can’t say Team Bondi didn’t give it their all. The story itself is fantastic, but unfortunately, the extremely repetitive missions get old very fast, and make it start to become somewhat of a chore to play. The facial features in L.A. Noire are amazing and you’ll easily recognize some well known actors throughout the game and how much they look just like their real life selves. There are plenty of hours of gameplay to be had in L.A. Noire and you may not find the gameplay as repetitive as I did, so do yourself and give it a chance, the visuals alone are more than worth it.
L.A. Noire was provided for review by the publisher.
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC; Rated M
Developer: Team Bondi
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Release: May 17, 2011