Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Detect This!

Game: L.A. Noire

System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Release: May 2011

Rockstar's claim to fame is the Grand Theft Auto series. It generated the buzz and the bucks that transforms a studio into something legendary. Recently the developer has stepped out from their safety bubble with hits like Red Dead Redemption and more recently L.A. Noire. Fans have gone from the wild west to the wild--geez that's fucked up--streets of post WWII Los Angeles.

L.A. Noire is a unique game. Do not expect the typical experience, but anticipate Rockstar's uncanny ability to tell a good story. Some gameplay features are of the cut and paste variety. Players will run, gun,  drive, and take cover. The meat of the game, however, lies in its interrogation system.

Colen Phelps (fans of Mad Men will recognize the actor Aaron Station) spends most of his time gathering clues and interviewing P.O.I's (people of interest). During questioning the player often has to decide if a character is lying, in doubt, or telling the truth. To illustrate their intent Rockstar has developed a fantastic motion capture system that portrays the actors expressions vividly. Liars will dart their eyes back and forth. If they're a pro, then their tell will be more subtle like the biting of a lip. It's an effective original system that is both fun and challenging.

Too bad the same can' t be said for finding clues. Ever play Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Of course you have. Recall the groundbreaking rumble pack? Why wouldn't you? Remember the feature where secrets would make said rumble pack do its thing? Uh, maybe? If the answer is yes, then you have already experienced the clue discovery system of L.A. Noire. Walk around the crime scene and wait for that sweet sweet vibration. Then if you aren't too tuckered out press the A button (or X for those PS3 chaps) and move the analog stick around and around. Volia you have just found a clue.

Rockstar also provides the typical open world filler. There are secret cars and landmarks to discover, and random acts of violence that must be stopped. After all street crime must be kept to a minimal. Some of the crime scenarios and secret cars are fun. They weren't, however, worth going out of your way for.

I can really appreciate Rockstar's first attempt at the detective thriller. The writing and acting were solid. The game was fun and original. I really enjoyed the combination of run & gun with interrogation. I'd also be lying if I didn't mention my appreciation for the setting and attention to detail. Snerts Snazzy Score is On Sale! Find the game on the cheap so you can afford the DLC content. I'm personally jealous of anyone who's gone through Refer Madness.

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