Rockstar’s historical crime epic bedazzles itself into staying until the last dog is hung.
This game could have been perfect. In fact, there are a lot of things Rockstar’s L.A. Noire does very well. But done well or not, everything by L.A. Noire does is done too much.
It’s not very difficult to explain, the old expression of, “too much of a good thing” is still exactly that – too much. The game is just simply too damn long for the formula it relies on.
The year is 1947 – hundreds of thousands of G.I.’s are back home from the war. You play Cole Phelps, an ex marine that saw action in Okinawa. Although a decorated war hero Phelps, like many men his age at the time, is haunted by the brutalities he’s witnessed during combat.
Phelps begins as an average traffic cop but soon finds himself in the midst of a meteoric rise throughout the LAPD. Receiving fanfare from people on the street and irritating jealous enemies along the way Phelps sees himself helplessly propelled towards an epic showdown with not only the gravest criminal threat he’s ever faced but with his own dark past as well.
Sounds awesome, right?
Well it fucking is. But it takes them seven million hours of full, repeating gameplay to get there.
The formula of the game is as follows – there are twenty one missions all averaging about an hour each.
1.) You and your partner (you have four partners throughout the game) are briefed on the crime.
2.) You drive to the crime scene and investigate the scene. Clues are scattered about and your character is notified they are in the area of a clue by a slight piano note played. It’s procedural luster wears thin quickly.
3.) Investigate crime scene.
4.) Question Suspects
4A.) One Suspect will always flee on foot. You’ll have to chase him down by foot.
4B.) One suspect will always flee by car. You’ll have to get into a car chase.
4C.) Not as often but often enough to be annoying, you will have to tail a suspect by foot or car to a location across town.
5.) Arrest multiple suspects.
6.) Interrogate them at Booking.
7.) Charge a suspect.
So it’s a procedural with a fedora on. Which is still okay but for a game with the word, “Noire” in its title it has an unfortunate lack of poetry throughout.
The voice acting is triple A. Top tier actors and talent voice a huge cast of shady bartenders, dock workers and dames in distress but the writing itself just seems to miss the mark at times. Never quite letting itself fall into true Noire territory. No matter how, “hokey”.
For the record, it cannot be overstated how well actor, Aaron Staton performs as Cole Phelps – his performance alone keeping me from dropping the game completely.
The music and atmosphere is perfect but one thing I found surprisingly boring is driving in the game. Rockstar very rarely misses when it comes to driving mechanics and it did not seem to matter which car I drove in-game – I was never satisfied with how it felt. Which is sad considering I enjoyed the driving mechanics in 2k’s PS2 Port, Mafia more.
Overall, the game is fine but with larger than life expectations and a hundred million dollar budget it’s no mystery to this wise guy why ten years on, Cole and company are omitted from more and more, “Best of” lists.
Overall: 83% (Bronze)