XBox 360
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Product Features

Genre
Action and Shooter
Publisher
Rockstar
Release Date
May 20, 2011
Available Platforms
XBox 360

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LA Noire

Developed by Team Bondi, L.A. Noire is an interactive detective story set in the classic noir period of the late 1940s. L.A. Noire blends action, detection and complex storytelling and draws players into an open-ended challenge to solve a series of gruesome murders. Set in a perfectly recreated Los Angeles before freeways, with a post-war backdrop of corruption, drugs and jazz, L.A. Noire will truly blend cinema and gaming. Using groundbreaking new animation technology that captures every nuance of an actor's facial performance in astonishing detail, L.A. Noire is a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience. Search for clues, chase down suspects and interrogate witnesses as you struggle to find the truth...

  • Steve Decker May 25, 2012 360
    ****

    L.A. Noire Xbox 360 Review
    When first seeing this game publicised, I was excited. The mixture of the dark and brooding 1940's atmosphere along with the gritty history of the era, really appealed to me; so I was anxious to get my copy of the game. You are Cole Phelps, a young man trying to live his life again shortly after WW2, and in doing so you solve 21 puzzling cases, spread over 5 desks.
    You start as a beat cop, surveying his patch of authority, which really serves as a tutorial for the game; and eventually moving on to Traffic, Homicide, Vice and then Arson. I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and it roughly took me around 20 hours to complete all 21cases.
    L.A. Noire's gameplay comes down to 3 main sections; interrogation, investigating crime scenes and gun fights; with the occasional car or foot chase here and there. As in other Rockstar games like the Grand Theft Auto series, the gunplay and driving has been delivered to an awesome standard. The shoot-outs are tense nervous battles of skill where one wrong move can mean life or death and the car chases are a tonne of fun. However where L.A. Noire really shines is in its crime scene and interrogation portions of the game.
    Each case starts with you going to a new crime scene and investigating the area. You find clues which might help you solve the case later in the level as well as possible new leads which take you to different locations in hope that you can find missed clues from the last scene and also new ones.
    Along with investigating numerous crime scenes you will also put your wits to the test in what I believe to be L.A. Noire's best asset. Throughout the course of the game you will go face to face with many suspects, during which time you have to try to gain information from them by forcing their hand. During each conversation you will ask each suspect questions pertaining to the case and then they will give you their response, now for the hard bit. After the suspect has spoken you will get three options; do you trust them, doubt their reply or prove them wrong with evidence you have acquired from the crime scenes; outing them as the liar they are. This was mind-blowing. Forcing you to use your wits and intelligence to progress in the game was amazing and highly enjoyable. It isn't just the immense satisfaction of proving them wrong or the anger you feel when they out-smart you that makes this game so engrossing; L.A. Noire uses a new camera technology called 'MotionScan' where no animation is involved. What you see is the actor's real performance and the clever use of this by developer Team Bondi really makes winning interrogations a fulfilled experience. You will have to judge the decision; whether you believe them or doubt them, it's entirely up to you, using their own faces as sources for truth or deceit. Every grimace, every flush of anger appears on the suspect and this is what truly makes L.A. Noire unique.
    Another department where L.A. Noire shines is in its presentation. Team Bondi have faithfully re-created 1940's Los Angeles and have done so to an outstanding level of detail. Nothing just looks like it was copied from the previous item. From every tree to every drivers licence you find on the victim's body; everything has been created to an immense level of detail and for that I must applaud the people who made this game. However with this high level of detail, comes some flaws. For example, some textures might not load properly for a couple of seconds, only to appear right in front of your eyes when you're driving past them. Cut-scenes might not load properly causing blurred images to appear on your screen, when you know there should be characters or buildings. But despite these flaws they aren't too distracting and won't hinder your experience.
    The voice work and musical tunings is yet another part of this game where it excels. The voice work in this game is top-notch and I don't know how many actors were used, but believe me there are hundreds them, each providing some remark that further adds to the realism of the game. Aaron Staton steals the show as the main protagonist; Cole Phelps, and Staton delivers a great performance playing quite an unusual character. Phelps' combination of intelligence and determination for honourable police work is portrayed well and the few partners you have along the journey make for interesting relationships being developed. My only gripe in the voice department would be that sometimes the lip-syncing and the voice work just don't go together smoothly, leading to a few weird moments where characters are talking but no mouth is moving.
    The soundtrack in this game is stellar. Memorable car chases are accompanied with dramatic background music, and when dark truths are revealed the music always fits in perfectly, adding that subtle mysterious tone that leaves you asking yourself what will come next. During crime scenes, gentle piano music plays when you are next to a clue leading to a frightening experience, as if the thief or murderer is right there behind you. The soundtrack is another fantastic piece of the puzzle that is L.A. Noire.
    To conclude L.A. Noire is phenomenal, and despite its few mishaps, it still shines through as one of the best and most unique games this generation. I would definitely recommend this game; however I would take caution if you are not quite sure whether you really want to buy this game. L.A Noire is not for everyone. It's a mature game and one that should be appreciated by any console or PC owner out there. You would be doing yourself a massive disservice if you didn't at least check this game out, so go ahead, and take a look!
    4.5/5 stars

  • Daniel Quinn July 31, 2011 360
    ****

    I have been playing L.A. Noire on and off since its release and to be honest I have really mixed feelings about it. It is unusual for me not to play and complete a game over a single week after release, but with Team Bondi's new detective title I felt myself losing interest after short periods in front of my television screen. I've read the other reviews of L.A. Noire here on find-game, all of which have given the game 4/4 stars. I completely disagree. However I do agree that it is groundbreaking in many ways and the character's facial animations are a sight to behold, but there's just something missing for me. I will attempt to point out the main flaw of the game as I perceive it as I feel this is something that is absent from a lot of people's immediate responses to the game shortly after its release.

    The key element of the gameplay is interviewing/interrogating suspects. Another reviewer stated that it's 'quite obvious' when a lie has been told. I didn't find this to be the case at all and for me this constitutes the main flaw of L.A. Noire. At the end of the day you have an actor/actress acting out a lie or a truth and so you are depending on the quality of said actor/actress's ability to portray this in an accurate manner. Sometimes you can be interviewing a person who is telling the truth but looks so unexplainably shifty that you naturally think they are lying and then you end up messing up the entire interview which makes you feel like a complete tool. You have the option of agreeing that the interviewee is telling the truth or you can accuse them of lying in two different ways, either by doubting them or by accusing them of lying outright. An accusation of lying must be accompanied by evidence that you have gathered/found/collected from witnesses, other suspects or crime scenes, whilst doubting just prompts them to the tell the truth, but only if you have guessed right. In the real world of course interviews are not so black and white. Real life conversations are full of so many subtleties (both spoken and unspoken) that it is impossible to re-enact them in a game at this point in time. This leads to complications as you are forced to make black and white decisions based on very little information. Of course I am not expecting Team Bondi to have captured all the subtleties of real life in a game but I sort of expected a little more from the key gameplay mechanic that they promoted so heavily. After all this is a game and at the end of the day I expect to at least be able to fairly and squarely accomplish the tasks set me by the game's creators and not be tripped up at every turn due to a misperception brought about through misleading facial expressions. Being constantly knocked back by lack of success in the interviews is very dissatisfying and demoralising and does little to encourage me to keep playing for any length of time.

    I stated above that the character's facial animations are a sight to behold. This is true and they are impressively lifelike. However the disparity between the realism of the character's face and their body and clothing as well as the in game environments and objects makes the faces stick out unnaturally like a lit candle in a dark room. I think this sums up the entire game...Team Bondi spent so much time and effort working on facial animations that they forgot all the other key elements for making a great game. But also I have to wonder if the developers could ever have achieved all the things they set out to. They had a great idea for a game and combined it with some impressive technology. However they made a huge mistake in expecting us gamers to apply the principles of social interaction in reality to a videogame. Real life cannot be applied to a videogame as much as a videogame cannot be applied to real life. At this stage in time and until technology catches up with the idea, they are two separate spheres. Until I can have a realistic conversation with in game characters I think developers should focus on making gameplay as interesting and exciting as possible in as unrealistic a manner as the medium warrants.

    I applaud Team Bondi for trying something different and don't get me wrong, there are many redeeming qualities which make this title worth a pick up and play. However, on a personal level this game is just not for me. In some respects it engaged me, but just as soon as it did the key gameplay mechanic reared its ugly head and beat the enthusiasm out of me. I would still recommend everyone to at least give this a try. The other reviewers here seemed to enjoy it so you might too. Once you have played through it come back to find-game and write a review. I would be interested to hear if anyone else agrees with me!

  • Joshua Stephenson June 29, 2011 360
    ****

    Rockstar really have made a conscientious effort to tell a more mature story in this console generation. First with GTA 4 and Niko Bellic discovering the truth that the American dream is nothing more than a fiction, then with Red Dead Redemption a tale of one man trying to escape the demons of his past but finding out the past never leaves you, and now we have L.A. Noire certainly their most mature story yet.

    L.A. Noire focuses around Cole Phelps, a war veteran, who returns from duty to take up a position in the LAPD and starts trying to climb his way up the ladder from patrolman to detective. In between all this though you have to solve serial killer cases, deal with crooked partners and politicians, but most importantly of all you need to deal with Cole's own weaknesses. In fact Cole is by far one of the most interesting video game protagonists I've seen in a long while, for every strength there is a flaw and it makes for a hard character to like, but an easy character to relate to. Aaron Staton, who you'll recognise from Mad Men, performs Cole superbly and the detailing of his rise and fall is a huge step forward in videogame storytelling. Couple this with some superb writing and genuinely likeable supporting characters and you have one of the best stories of this generation.

    You may have noticed the use of the word performed instead of voiced in the last paragraph and there is a very good reason for this, as L.A. Noire uses the much talked about Motionscan technology, which renders facial expressions in superb detail and means that you can see the emotion on the characters face much clearer. This is central to the games core mechanic, which sees you interrogating suspects and witnesses in the various crimes you have to solve. This works by making you watch the reactions of the characters to the questions you ask and from there you have the choice to believe, doubt or call them out on lying to you (this has to be backed by evidence). In general the mechanic works well and breaking down a particularly tricky witness is very satisfying, but at times it can feel a little too simple with suspects overtly shifting eyes makes it quite obvious that a lie has been told.

    This is only half of the equation though and for every interrogation, a bit of detective work has to be done first. These work by letting you walk around the crime scene investigating items of interest, these are highlighted by a twinkle of jazz music everytime you pass a potentially important clue, it is up to you to decide whether it is pertinent or not. It's a nice system that finds the right balance between you clicking on every single item and practically telling you what you need, in fact it is a system I would like to see implemented into more adventure games. A special mention needs to be made also to the investigations of the bodies, which is handled with great care and surprising maturity and can make for some uncomfortable viewing for all the right reasons.

    Of course this been a Rockstar game there is some action for you to get involved in to, but it is more toned down than it is in Red Dead and GTA, in fact whole cases can go by without the need to un-holster your weapon. The action that does take place tends to come in the form of chases whether on foot or in car they are always exciting, particularly in the case of the on foot chases which see you hopping over rooftops, sliding down drains and collapsing buildings to get your man and are never anything less than exciting. The same can be said for the car chases to an extent, but the likelihood of the suspect crashing himself occurs more often than it perhaps should. It is in the core gameplay mechanics that most of L.A. Noire's problems arise with some rookie mistakes that could have easily been avoided. The cars handling for example is far too floaty and can make for some twitchy handling, admittedly it is a marked improvement on GTA's tank like cars but if you're looking for those elusive 5 star ratings it may be best to let your partner drive you. Gunplay also brings along one of GTA's main problems and that been that the auto-aim is incredibly generous, as long as you aiming in the same postcode as your enemy the chances are that you will get a headshot, and it really detracts from some of the tension the gunfights should be having. Sticking with gunplay for a moment, in a world were the cover shooter is practically a genre, it is unforgiveable to have a broken cover system. Moving from cover pretty much requires you to turn around and run away, whilst moving up to the next piece of cover just leaves you in the open on the side of the cover you were already on! I find it hard to stomach that Team Bondi had never played Gears of War or Splinter Cell: Conviction, because if they have there is no excuse for them not making an, at least, competent cover system.

    Whilst the action falls short in many ways, the city itself does not. It has been wonderfully crafted to capture the feel of 1940's L.A. at that time with a level of detail in architecture and population that really makes you feel like you're back in a 1940's noir thriller, in fact for fans of noir films many of the staples of the genre are to be found here, from the deep voice-over guy who charts your early rise, to the copious amounts of drinking and smoking, heck it even has an option to play the entire thing in black & white if you feel inclined. Couple all of this with a superb jazz soundtrack that immerses you in its world with all manner of horns and strings, and you've got a game that has the most realistic sandbox I've ever been in. It's a shame then that they don't fill the sandbox with much to do, as the 40 side-missions are woefully under-developed with it sometimes taking more time to drive to the mission than it does to actually complete it. There is none of the wacky humour that makes them worth hunting for in GTA, none of the additional stories that were found in RDR, no unfortunately in L.A. Noire it focuses on the weakest area of the game and tend to be 5 minute random shoot-outs with very little back story, or a quick car chase with no investigation to be found. It makes them very repetitive and not worth hunting down. Aside from them you have a few collectables to find but they don't offer any reward and so aren't worth your time either. This is a shame as the world that has been put together deserves exploring but Team Bondi have offered no real incentive to do so.

    As for the main story itself I would say most players would take 12-15 hours to reach its quite satisfying conclusion with an element of replayability for those who have a compulsion to 5 star every case. The feel of progression through the game is well handled with Cole's rise through the various desks making the cases feel bigger and bigger, especially when you hit Homicide and find yourself trying to pin down a serial killer based on the Black Dahlia case of the 1940's.

    Ultimately L.A. Noire is a game that is quite unlike anything else on the market at the moment, with its focus on story and investigation rather than explosions and cheap thrills, it has more in common with the Adventure game genre than it does with the rest of Rockstar's back catalogue. While it doesn't successfully blend the two as much as it would like what you end up with is a well-told story, superbly acted with new technology that will make it hard to go back to old facial animations. So if you have a hankering for a truly mature title that approaches a dead genre with a new slant then I cannot recommend L.A. Noire highly enough, if you want another GTA clone well you might be better off waiting for Saints Row 3.you philistine!