Personal Opinion: L.A. Noire (PS3)
I am calling these type of posts “personal opinions” for a couple of reasons. One, I am pretty much a terrible writer as you will find out if you read any of my posts. Two, because I am in no way a professional game/movie reviewer. I am simply a video gamer who has opinions. So, as my first personal opinion post I wanted to talk about a pretty hot game right now called L.A. Noire. I assume most people who are going to read this already know about the game, but a brief description would be to say you play as a LAPD cop who moves up the ranks to detective and works on various criminal cases through different “desks”. The different chapters in the game are referred to as “desks” such as Vice, Homicide, Traffic, and Arson. As you progress through the game an over arching plot becomes clear and things start to tie together up until the end. I liked the game, but I didn’t love it and I think it could of been a lot better… keep reading to find out why.
Many praise the game as a contender for game of the year and other awards, however I am having trouble seeing why. I will agree the facial motion capture they used in the game is absolutely amazing and could be called revolutionizing even but did it really make the game that much more remarkable? Through out the entire game the only memorable features are when you are sitting down with a suspect and questioning them. The car chases, foot chases, and gun shoot outs are forgettable instantly and have been done better in other games. The shooting mechanics and gun play in Red Dead Redemption is probably the best I have ever seen in a game. The car physics and chases in Grand Theft Auto IV feel more realistic and rewarding. I understand those were developed by Rockstar and Rockstar North which is a completely different team but I am just backing up my opinion that it is done better in other games and really isn’t anything to praise in L.A. Noire. With that said, I too had a blast when I first started questioning all the available suspects on the crime scenes, but it grew stale quicker than I thought it would and left very little for replay-ability. The path of the player basically consists of going to point A, B, or C and talking to someone, then moving onto the next area. You can also take dispatch calls of unrelated crimes around the city, but often times they are really far away or just not interesting enough to put in the effort to complete them.
When questioning a suspect you are giving the option to believe them, accuse them of lying or doubt them. If you chose the right option you get good information from the suspect which leads to solving the case quicker and a higher rating at the end of the case. Maybe I am just a bad detetective or try to hard to do things perfectly, but I found myself constantly picking the wrong option when I had to choose between believing, lying or doubting a suspect. Then I would quit the game and restart the same area to try and pick the right answer because I really wanted to know what the suspect knew. This was one of the most frustrating things for me… I feel like Team Bondi could of brainstormed a way for the player to try again or get to the answer by asking another question on the same topic. I know this probably easier said than done, but playing through the entire game just to try and get a few questions right and seeing a different cut scene just isn’t worth a fresh play through for me. Now, you don’t have to get the answers right to progress through the game, you just won’t get the answers you were looking for and sometimes be stuck making a tough decision on who to put behind bars without all the facts. This is probably more frustrating to me than other players.
The city it self is beautiful. I loved the look and detail that went into creating the landscape and buildings. However, there is NOTHING to do in the city besides drive cars around. Mini games outside of the dispatch calls would of been welcome, maybe breaking up street fights or gang battles or arresting people who look suspicious. The city is just too dead. Finding hidden cars and other collectibles has never appealed to me, there is some of that in this game that people will enjoy but I did not see a point in it. To make another comparison, you are rewarded in Red Dead Redemption for finding collectibles and hunting all the animals. This should be a feature in all games if they ask you to search a giant city/landscape for 10 hours for random items then they should give you something fun to use in the game as a reward not just a trophy or achievement.
I feel like all I have done is complain about the game so I will say it does do some things well such as graphics, pretty much bug free, and interesting enough cases/story line. This game to me is like watching a very long movie and for that I can appreciate what Team Bondi created… but as a FUN game that I want to play over and over, it doesn’t come close to anything like that. I knew I would never play it again the minute I finished it and I do not feel it is a “keep on the shelf” type of game. I know developers have pressure from publishers and sometimes that can cause games to be released prematurely without half the features they originally wanted in the game and I feel that could be part of the problem with this game. It feels like they put in everything they absolutely had too to make a complete game, and then just released it to be done with it. Its hard to judge this game in one way… on the technical and innovative side I would give this game a 9 or 10 even, on the gameplay and fun side of things I would probably do a 5 or 6. If you have 15-20 hours to kill and want to experience something unique to the open world genre, I would recommend renting it.