review
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POSTED 18/11/17


LA NOIRE

Rockstar Games



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 schmalley!

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.

take me back to the start...

 



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ALL WRITTEN CONTENT COPYRIGHT © AMY FLOWER 2008-2017. GAME IMAGES COURTESY OF RESPECTIVE GAMES COMPANIES.