A city has many
faces. It's 1947, and this is the face of Los Angeles...
Stunningly so, as incredible measures have been taken to recreate an
authentic post-WWII LA – but that’s just the tip of the realism as
we revisit what remains a stellar experience.
Being a Rockstar creation, upon original release many expected GTA: ’40s.
Mercifully, however, LA Noire delivered a new beast that skilfully
pilfered from others – notably
Heavy Rain, Mafia II
and Police Quest. Yep, there was – and still is - a whole lotta Sierra goin’ on,
resulting in a rather linear experience, but one that’s captivating
despite some flaws.
You’re dropped into a world so film noir that you expect Edmond
O’Brien and Lizabeth Scott to lurk around every corner. The vintage
music, automobiles, advertising... Hell, the whole thing should be
in black and white rather than its muted colour – and can be, upon
summoning that menu option.
You become Cole Phelps, beginning as beat copper and working through
various branches of dick in traffic, homicide, vice and arson.
You’ve 21 cases to solve via solid CSI and sussed interrogation (along with some bonus assignments that were once DLC).
This is LA Noire’s nitty-gritty, and it succeeds due to
astonishing facial animation tech. Uncanny valley, schmuncanny
There’re side missions, adding arcadiness whilst talking jumpers out
of pavement pancaking, party-pooping bank jobs or collecting cars
Jay Leno style. These are optional – yay - however interruptions
such as driving, chasing on foot, driving, shooting, driving,
fisticuffs and driving are required. A ‘just the facts ma’am’
detective-only mode would have been welcome.
Those flaws? Notably background popup and frustrating fussiness with
object interaction – like pet peeve #1, encountering something solid
and just keeping walking on the spot - but these pale in light of
clever everything else.
The addition of HDR in this
apparently 4K (can we afford a PS4 Pro? Nope!) do-over is welcome,
especially in night scenes. Otherwise, graphics are vastly improved,
along with lighting. Meanwhile, a small but appropriate alteration
is going from interrogational "truth", "doubt" and "lie" to "good
cop", "bad cop" and "accuse".
LA Noire is tantalisingly more think, less action, and the
seedy, gritty melodramatic stuff that film noir aficionados’ dreams
are made of – and we found it just as immersive and enjoyable now as
we did back in 2011.