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L.A. Noire Review

Rockstar Games’ and Team Bondi’s latest love child, L.A. Noire, hit the shelves last May 20 and we here at Unbox have been vigilantly playing it (okay, that’s not entirely true, contrary to popular belief, we do have day jobs. ?). However, we have progressed quite a bit into the game and here are our first impressions for you guys.

INTRODUCTION

L.A. Noire is about an up-coming L.A. Detective named Cole Phelps and his rising within the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department in the backdrop of 1940’s post-war America. In other words, corruption, automobiles, gambling, guns, actresses, greed and jazz.

Well more or less that’s how it plays out…only much more linear.

You progress through the game by solving cases, so each part feels like an episode from a TV series., complete with the black and white title screens. That part I like very much. It gives players the option to play the game casually which gives player the flexibility to properly manage their gaming time. ^_^

PROS
– Art direction is superb! The entire look and feel of the game thrusts you in a time machine (and a plane ticket as well) and sets you in a completely believable 1940’s Los Angeles—and like GTA, they mapped the whole LA—down to gas stations and stores.

– The new technology they employed wherein the actor’s facial movements are flawlessly shown on their 3D versions, giving each character their own unique personality.

– Quick episodic missions. The beauty of this is, unlike other games, I actually can treat this as a casual game where I can put down the controller after 1 mission and call it a day. Of course if you’re a hardcore gamer, you can also play through the whole mission line-up like you would marathon a season of your favorite TV show.

– The game recognizes that there are certain difficulties within the game that can be very frustrating to gamers (like driving missions). Hence the developers created a short-cut option where you can skip certain action sequences and jump right into the, uh, investigating.

– That the bulk of the game is really about detective work than shooting and blowing things up!

– The cars. In good ol’ GTA fashion, Team Bondi did a pretty good job creating more than 90 vehicles you can drive. Personally, I love commandeering the Cadillacs!

– For a really film-noire feel, you have the option to play the game in black & white!

– The Jazz. ‘nuff said.

CONS
– Controls! It’s pretty hard to get the hang of the controls particularly if you haven’t played GTA. If you do, however, you’ll find that it’s a bit more forgiving than the GTA counterpart. The driving scenes are always a struggle for me and it took me quite a few cases before I could run and fire the gun intuitively.

– Saving the game. I always find it difficult that I can’t choose to save my game manually. L.A. Noire autosaves on its own which kinda sucks, because if you decide to stop in the middle of the case, it’s hard to track back where your last save point is. And if you want to go back a few save points further, you can’t.

– Team Bondi created a vast 1940’s Los Angeles that you’d just love to explore in free-roam, however, doing so won’t do much to progress the story as everything is pretty much mapped out for you, so exploring is a bit useless (at least story-wise).

– Oh and since they literally re-created the whole L.A. area, when your partner says “oh it’s just a couple of blocks down the road” it means, yeah it’s a pretty long drive. Did I tell you that I hate the car controls? Oh yeah, I did.

Unbox Conclusion

Although a bit hard to master at first, L.A. Noire plays out quite nicely as you go and get into the heart of the game. The art-direction and story grips you in classic detective film noire style making you more frustrated for not cracking the interrogation part more than the actual action sequences.

Overall, L.A. Noire’s hard-to-master controls are overshadowed by everything else it has to offer and it rewards gamers with a very unique gaming experience. I’m already seeing this as a contender for game of the year.

SCORE

GAME PLAY – 4.5/5
CONTROLS – 3/5
GRAPHICS/ART DIRECTION- 5/5
REPLAYABILITY – 4.5/5

TOTAL – 4.25/5

L.A. Noire available at Datablitz for Php 2,295 (PS3) and Php 1,995 (Xbox 360)

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