Originally, I had only done reviews on my personal blog, but since I am looking to get into the media business, I think I will transfer that to here. I am going to review one of the most singularly interesting video games that I have ever played. I am a seeker of story. No matter what form the story takes, I seek it out. A good book, a good movie, a good TV show, or a good video game, great stories are what is the gap between what I like, and what I love. L.A. Noire is a game that has instantly gone onto the place that I love, without hesitation. This game has got to be one of the most original concepts that I have seen in a very long time.
The basic premise of this is that you are a cop in 1947 Los Angeles. You returned home from World War II a hero, and now have decided to become a cop, trying to be a good person in a city where nothing is as it seems, and villainy is everywhere. He tries to do right, to be a good person, no matter what. Always do right, which sounds horribly cliche, but the main character, Cole Phelp’s naivety quickly goes away when he sees the world for what it is.
Every detail of this game is perfect. The story is engaging and interesting. The deceptions, shifting allegiances, a dedication to finding the truth, no matter the cost. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time, not knowing what is coming up next. I won’t say how it ends, I’ll leave that for you to decide. But how it all unfolds is breath-taking.
This brings me to the special effects. This game truly does what all the advertising said it would do. It captures every detail of facial expression perfectly. When you are interviewing or interrogating suspects, this comes in worlds of handy. Another aspect that is so fun – how part of the interview you get right and wrong affect how it all plays out, and the case itself, in the end. So much can happen with interviews, and everything is crucial. You can believe that a person is telling the truth, doubt their statement, or say that they are outright lying (but you better have evidence to back up that one). Choose wisely, because the wrong choice effects everything!
And of course, you get involved in some of the more dirty aspects of police work, like running down suspects, chasing suspects in your car, or even gunning them down when you have to. Your character gets involved in some pretty ugly gunfights, and you have to be prepared, because you can’t take very many hits. And sometimes you have to be ready to slug it out with somebody who wants to play dirty (yeah, you’d think you could just shoot them, but afraid not. This isn’t Grand Theft Auto [grimaces at the idea. Those games all sucked], here you have to play nice pretty often).
An aspect of the game that is fair warning to those who want to play is that these games don’t shy away from the ugly aspect of the job. When you join homicide, you end up looking at dead bodies quite often. Your character gets involved in a series of murders where women are killed and displayed, often naked, and you have to take apart the crime scene. There is a lot of violence, blood, gore, and nudity in this game. The irony of it all is that the nudity is never sexual. It is always the crimes where it occurs.
Some say that the elements of the game get repetitive after a while, because you are doing the same thing over and over, but it is in the presentation that keeps it interesting, plus the fact that you go from department to department, from starting as a beat cop, to going to traffic, then homicide, the Vice, and finally ending up in arson. You are taking apart vastly different kinds of crime scenes, and this requires a different way of thinking, because not only the kinds of crimes, but the motives for committing them all change with each kind of crime.
And no two crime is exactly alike. While you are consistently taking apart crime scenes, the difference in evidence, the things you are looking for, and often what you find by accident can lead you to having a drastically different way of thinking when you go to interview persons of interests, and interrogate suspects. A lot of this game and what makes it so fun is based on how one views things. This game really was made for a story-seeker like me. It is all about the motives, the thinking behind the crimes. Sure, it is done in old-school noir style filmography and setting, but honestly, it is what you take away that matters most. One could make that argument about most anything, of course, but still.
This game did have some glitches, and some elements did get a little repetitive, but honestly, it was the first of a kind (and I REALLY hope not the last of its kind, also), so that was to be expected. The gameplay was fun, the driving chases were fun. The shootouts were fun. There really was nothing in any way overwhelmingly wrong with this game. It was one of the most fun and definitely the most original concepts that I have gotten to see in a long time, and that is pretty impressive.
Final Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars