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L.A. Noire review

Our Rating :
£10.95 from
Price when reviewed : £37
inc VAT

There's little freedom in this noir crime epic, but the great characters, plot and production values will keep you entertained to the end


Inevitably as you get closer to your suspect, things get less cerebral and more physical. Fisticuffs, gunfights, foot and car chases are all on the menu. Here the game does become far more reminiscent of the GTA series, though it’s still not free-form. Unless the plot calls for it you can’t throw a punch or draw your gun, which gives both actions the dramatic intensity they deserve.

Another big difference is that you’re rewarded for minimising chaos and wreckage, rather than revelling in it. Experience points are earned at the end of each case, and you get demerits for collateral damage. As you level up you get intuition points, which assist with finding clues or interrogating suspects when you’re stumped.

L.A. Noire gunfight
Phelps is a war hero, pictured here in LAPD uniform, which explains why he’s a crack shot

The hand-to-hand fighting is a simple, block and counter affair, while gunfights largely resemble a shooting arcade, with targets popping up conveniently, plus there’s a hefty dose of auto-aim assistance. Neither is too challenging then, and failing repeatedly gives you the option to skip if desired. The foot chases are fairly straightforward, as long as you keep an eye on your quarry. Car chases can be a little tougher, due to the very skittish nature of the handling.

For those who want more action, you can respond to emergency calls while enroute to your next destination – picking up extra experience points for your efforts. Speaking of driving, getting around town could be a bit of a chore, however, you can always jump to the next location by simply commanding your partner to do the driving. That said, 1940’s LA is gorgeously recreated, and the locations you visit show imagination in their variety. The vehicles, clothes and even the traffic density have been meticulously researched to great effect.

L.A. Noire autopsy
Where would a police procedural drama be without a coroner and an autopsy?

We don’t want to say much about the plot, but the depth is clearly apparent from the outset, with flashbacks to Phelp’s time in the army and brief cutscenes of characters you haven’t yet met. If we have one criticism of L.A. Noire it’s the linear nature of the experience. The cases themselves occur in a strict order, and each one has only the slightest variations within it of how you go about things, often withholding information to funnel you a particular way. With the action sequences all being very staged, you can feel like a bit of a passenger, rather than in control.

Having said all that, this is a rare console game release; one that puts story and character ahead of all else. Its cerebral nature makes the current lack of a PC release date even more puzzling, though we live in hope. Yes, it makes sacrifices for its story-driven nature, but if you enjoy games and like noir movies or police procedural dramas, then this is an essential purchase.

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