L.A. Noire’s final chapters and ending wraps up the main story arcs nicely. Where a game like Heavy Rain has a sometimes goofy storyline and major plot holes, L.A. Noire’s story actually seems believable. You could pick up a newspaper and see those headlines on the front page.
The more you play, the more you notice the problems mentioned earlier with L.A. Noire. The shortcomings can’t be ignored and minimized simply because L.A. Noire offers amazing new things for games. These problems take you out of its world and remind you that you’re still playing a video game.
It feels like the action sequences were an afterthought, especially the driving parts. Neither were particularly good. Their insertion felt forced and unnecessary. The only time this wasn’t the case was near the end of the game where the drama and excitement was at its highest point. It felt like the scenes were included to have some sort of other gameplay element besides investigating and conversations. Rather than adding to L.A. Noire, they subtracted from some of the game’s enjoyment. These action parts needed a lot polishing and improvement.
Just as you were getting to know and connect with your partners, Phelps was promoted to the next desk and given a new partner. Some might question the order of the desks, but it makes perfect sense in the development of the story and Cole’s character. The conclusion of the Homicide desk and subsequent dialogue about the suspect could’ve been handled better, as there are some lingering questions the player might have surrounding it.
Rank in L.A. Noire is near worthless. It doesn’t affect your detective skills or help you getting the right answers when questioning suspects. Besides earning intuition points and unlocking a few suits, there’s not much point to the game’s rank system. It felt like another unnecessarily tacked on gameplay element.
Some of the rag doll death animations are also way over the top and take away from the seriousness of L.A. Noire. When Cole gets hit by a car or falls off a high structure, his body will flail around like a dying fish.
There’s not much point in exploring Los Angeles other than driving to the next crime scene or interview. It’s such a waste to have a huge city with nothing to do inside of it and no real reason to explore the landscape.
What sets L.A. Noire apart from most games is its mature story and cast of real, believable characters. While there is traces of the classic Rockstar humor, the game is mostly serious. Overall the story and storytelling elements were superb. There’s only one ending though, so your performances on the cases don’t affect the overall story arc. The story really comes through and elevates L.A. Noire when some of the gameplay elements start to drag and fade off towards the end of the game.
After you finish L.A. Noire, you can go into to Free Roam mode from the game’s main menu. There’s not much to do besides complete Street Crimes, finish collecting things, or cruise around bopping to the tunes on the radio. Besides the cars and newspapers, you can collect 50 film reels, but they’re extremely well hidden. I found a whopping zero of them during my play time.
For a game that takes 12-20 hours to finish depending on how you play, L.A. Noire keeps your attention locked in the entire time.
L.A. Noire blows you away with the portrayal of relationships, its characters and their complicated lives. The MotionScan technology allows for so many emotions to come through the game, delivering a stunning depth and connection to the story and characters. L.A. Noire’s story is fantastic and saves the game from its obvious failings. Where L.A. Noire falls short is with some of its faulty gameplay elements and limitations put on the player. L.A. Noire isn’t perfect, but it’s still one of the most unique gaming experiences ever created.
Score: 4 /5
- Facial animations
- Transports player to time period
- Action parts
- Limitations set on player
- Can’t fail cases
- Street Crimes
- Collection side quests
- Waste of a big city
Photos by Rockstar Games