LA Noire review

Details, details, details…the crime thriller L.A. Noire for the XBox 360, set in post-World War II 1947 Los Angeles, is a game that glories in and is made glorious by the rich accuracy of details that its publisher Rock Star Games and developer Team Bondi bring to it. If you have no idea at all what this game is about, have not already heard and/or read about the way real actors were used and filmed to capture every little nuance and expression on their faces using MotionScan tech to map facial movements, it is probably hard to imagine the depths of realism and immersiveness this game has for which it has already become famous. It’s a Must Have sort of game, as is a game like Portal 2 (but for different reasons).

You are Cole Phelps (played by Aaron Staton of Mad Men), a Silver Star decorated war veteran just back from Okinawa, Japan. You rise up the ranks of the LAPD by solving crimes ranging from grand theft auto to a series of murders. The game play is outrageously absorbing and fun, with the big band jazz music of the era as the musical score accompanying your crime investigation efforts. There are 95 very sweet vintage cars you can drive, in places ranging from parking lots to hidden garages. You work your way up from a straight-arrow cop on the beat to becoming a detective, and you get to interrogate suspects, read their emotions and decide if they’re lying or telling the truth, drive cars and get involved in shoot-outs, and gather together clues from various sources to solve 21 cases. Besides the 21 major cases, there are 40 street crimes to complete in all, 30 LA landmarks to locate, and 50 golden film reels to track down in “Free-Roam,” where you travel all around the vast cityscape and locate other items like newspapers with blaring headlines on them. You don’t need to locate all of the cars, golden film reels and newspapers to beat the game, though they’re fun to try to find and get the fullest sense of satisfaction out of playing the game.

Along the way, you’ll move Cole through solving traffic, vice, and arson cases. One of the many cool aspects about the game is that your cases will have references to real crimes, like the Black Dahlia murder, and historical criminals, like the gangsters Mickey Cohen and Johnny Stompanato. There is some strong language, violence, and nudity in the game, so it’s really meant for older teens and adults.

If you’ve read detective novels by authors like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, or you’ve seen black and white films like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, or color ones like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, you’ll know what the “noire” in “film noire” means–darkness. Often, the good guys are not 100 per cent “good,” they’re more gray, people who try to be good but have problems of their own, like with alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc. Books and films of this genre are generally dark and atmospheric in tone, and nobody plays a great film noire detective better than the actor Humphrey Bogart, though Jack Nicholson does a fantastic job in Chinatown.

Investigate a crime scene by walking around it with your partner, or the house of a suspicious person of interest, looking for clues. When you interrogate a person, you need to maintain eye contact with him/her, and note any tells, or signs they might be lying. Some include nervous habits like like scratching behind their ear or biting their fingernails. Picking up on these kinds of clues is vital for you to be able to solve crimes in the game. This can be easier said than done, though, as many expressions are similar to others, and some of the criminals later on in the game don’t give away many clues from their facial expressions because they are presumably so used to lying.

Besides getting to drive awesome vintage cars that handle very realistically and squeal their tires going around corners, I liked many things about the game. The attention to detail in the architecture, city landmarks, billboards, and even the famous Hollywood sign is incredible. Being able to travel in a 3D environment almost anywhere you’d like is also a great plus. The shoot-outs are realistic, as well, and I thought the idea of using real well-known actors was an inspired one. As I’m a major Fringe fan, I really liked the appearance of John Noble, who is Walter Bishop in Fringe, as one of the bad guys.

I won’t go into many tips and hints. As with most games, their are tons of them, but trying to complete the game on your own, without Cheats, is IMHO the way to get the most fun and satisfaction out of a game. But, the following Cheats are pretty cool ones, which add to the game without necessarily making it much easier to solve any of the cases, so that’s why I chose to include them.

Street Crimes Here We Come!

All you need to do for this simple Cheat is to accept a Street Crime radio message and set a custom marker near the street crime. Then, just get out of your vehicle to let your partner drive. When you get close to your destination, drive the last block or two yourself, and that will activate the mission.

Wanna know how to unlock Cole Phelps’ other wardrobe possibilities? Read on!

Beat Cop Uniform Awarded for starting Beat Cop missions
Golden Boy Awarded for reaching the Traffic Desk
Sword of Justice Outfit Awarded after reaching rank 3
Sunset Strip Outfit Awarded after reaching rank 8
The Outsider Outfit Awarded after reaching rank 13
Hawkshaw Outfit Awarded after reaching rank 18
The Sharpshooter Pre-Order bonus from Best Buy and Zavvi
The Broderick Amazon Pre-Order bonus
Button Man Awarded from the Badge Pursuit Challenge
Chicago Lightning Suit Awarded for joining the Rockstar Social Club

M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence