L.A. Noire

The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, The Big Nowhere, and White Jazz. This is known as the L.A. Quartet. A four book series by famed noire author James Ellroy. These will take you behind the scenes of the post War era of the L.A.P.D. where greed, drugs, corruption, sex, and organized crime ruled. The pictures have been painted vividly with Ellroy’s written word and through the world of film with movies like Chinatown, LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia, Training Day, Street Kings, and Dark Blue. Now we can add L.A. Noire to the mix as Team Bondi and Rockstar have teamed up to bring you a one of a kind gaming experience.

The first thing that one might think when seeing that Rockstar had a hand in this game is that its going to be GTA set in the 1940’s. I’m here to tell you that it is a complete 180 degree turn from that. The game does take place in an open world setting. A 1940’s Los Angeles which has been painstakingly recreated down to the smallest details. Just beautiful. The shooting mechanic and the driving/navigation mechanics are the same. But the game play is anything but.

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Get some Coppa!

Rather then play as your typical GTA bad guy you will have a chance to play as a Police officer looking to do some good. As the game starts you are a simple patrolman. But when asked to oversee a crime scene the real game begins. It is here that you will search from clues and evidence all of which will help you solve the case. As the game progresses you climb through the ranks as a detective. On your way up you will have to interview suspects and witnesses, talk to the coroner, gather more evidence and search for more clues. As you get answers through one these processes the answers will be saved in your notebook. This will come in very handy throughout the game.

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Hmmmmmmm…..what do we have here?

When interviewing your subjects you will be given three options. You can think they are telling the Truth, you can Doubt what they are saying, or you can accuse them of Lying in order to cover something up. If you choose the correct option the subject in question will often give you more clues and evidence and offer more leads in the case. But should you choose wrong the subject will become upset and shut his yapper. This is where your handy dandy note book come into play. During your interview with somebody you can look at all the clues and evidence you have. So if you catch a subject in a lie and have the evidence to prove it then you can use it against them to either get a conviction or to get even more evidence for your investigation.

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Tread lightly

As you solve more cases you will advance in rank and eventually gain a desk with the Homicide Detectives. This is when the game really begins to shine and will put your detective skills to the test. I’m not going to give away anything so trust me when I say that it is at this point in the awesome story telling elements start to take hold and the games begins to earn its place in noire history. One case that comes to mind is the “Fallen Idol” case. Here you will get a taste of the seedy side of 1940’s Lala Land. But the game is not all detective work. After all this is a Rockstar game so there are plenty of shootouts, chases, and fistacuffs to take place in. As you and your partner drive from crime scene to crime scene you can respond to radio dispatches of crimes in progress. Often they involve some type of shootout or chase . These for sure help to break up the pace and give folks a nice taste of action.

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CSI Los Angeles. circa 1940’s

Unfortunately its often these side quests that bring the game down. Its not that they aren’t fun but rather that they are often repetetive and short in nature. The game is a very very welcomed breathe of fresh air. Rockstar and Team Bondi could easily have taken the easy way out and made a GTA clone. But instead we are treated with a more interactive and intimate storytelling experience. All that being said this will either be a game that you love or hate. If you go into the game thinking you will get a GTA experience then you will be disappointed. But if you go in to it with an open mind and are prepared to use your noggin rather the your trigger finger then you will enjoy your experience.

Game Details:

Developer: Team Bondi
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Reviewed Platform: Xbox 360
Singleplayer 9
Multiplayer N/A
Replayability 8
Graphics 9
Audio 8
Overall 9