LA Noire review: a bold, cinematic step forward in a genre that’s dying for innovation
- Spectacularly cinematic -- MotionScan technology is a game-changer
- Engaging campaign with a strong story
- Interrogations and investigations are a blast
- Some graphical glitches and slowdown
- Episodic case structure can obscure the overarching narrative
- Scripted nature may turn off some gamers
While L.A. Noire may not appeal to everyone, those that are charmed by its mean streets will likely love every second of it. It's a bold, cinematic step forward in a genre that’s dying for innovation, and its implementation of the MotionScan technology is truly a game-changer.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
I've been racking my brain this past week for the phrase to best describe Detective Cole Phelps, L.A. Noire's fedora-clad gumshoe and ostensibly infallible leading man. I've toyed with "straight-laced," which seems too two-dimensional a descriptor, and I briefly considered "haunted," but it comes across as needlessly tragic. The word I keep coming back to is "driven" — driven by his unshakable morals, driven by a deft intellect, and driven by the demons borne during the events of his tour in World War II Okinawa.
It's this drive that synonymously relates and separates Phelps to and from previous Rockstar-published protagonists. Brendan McNamara, developer Team Bondi's founder and L.A. Noire's writer and director, paints the detective as a "golden boy" crime buster and war hero at first blush, channeling L.A. Confidential's determined Detective Edmund Exley more than Red Dead Redemption's quick-drawing cowpoke, John Marston. Opting for his notepad and pen over a Colt .45, Phelps' most dangerous weapons are his cunning and ambition. But like Marston and sociopathic ex-soldier Niko Bellic before him, the detective is a product of his blood-stained past deeds. And over the course of Noire's 21 core cases, he’s tasked with confronting and, hopefully, conquering them all.
Touted as an atmospheric "detective thriller," Noire is a very different beast from publisher and co-developer Rockstar's previous open-worlders. Sure, it features many of the same cinematic staples ever-present in the studio's impressive oeuvre, such as run-and-gun shoot-outs and an ample amount of tire-stripping car chases, but Noire is more Tex Murphy than Grand Theft Auto, employing players' intuition before the speed of their trigger fingers. The two core gameplay features — crime scene investigation and witness/suspect interrogation — are tense affairs that demand every ounce of the player's attention. Investigations call for a keen eye for vital clues, as well as plenty of patience, as each scene is littered with inconsequential red herrings. Rife with telling evidential details and "aha!" moments, these investigation sequences manage to be engaging without tottering into tedium, and present a thoughtful approach to (and evolution of) the HD-gen adventure game.
The interrogations are even more demanding, pitting players face-to-face with civilians and criminals who regularly lie, mislead, and withhold important information. These sequences smack of a more mature and grounded take on Phoenix Wright's melodramatic cross-examinations, but when players aren't presenting hard evidence to debunk bogus claims, they’ll have to use their instincts to determine if said suspects are telling the whole truth. It's more challenging than it sounds — due in no small part to the endlessly impressive MotionScan facial animation technology — and the hard-boiled script really comes to life with some of the most convincing performances I’ve yet seen in a video game.
While gun-toting does tend to take something of a backseat, Noire's more cerebral moments still regularly give way to action-packed set pieces. The game's scripted nature presents opportunities for some incredibly cinematic scenes, including an impeccable foot-chase through a decrepit film set, and a memorable shootout sequence set in an ice factory. Phelps isn't as much a one-man army as Bellic or Marston, but Noire's gunplay still feels very rewarding. (ProTip: If someone shoots your fedora off, wait until the dust clears and walk over to it — Cole will pause to place it back on his head)
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo Find X review: Damn.
- 2 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 3 HAVIT G1W True Wireless Earbuds review: Budget buds with a wireless edge
- 4 Huawei Nova 3e: P20 in a pinch
- 5 Sonos Beam review: A more-affordable, smarter soundbar option
Latest News Articles
- Magic: The Gathering Arena enters open beta on September 28
- The Assassin’s Creed Challenge comes to Sydney
- Playstation embraces the past with Playstation Classic
- ASUS Republic of Gamers announces PC Partnership with Activision for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
- HP launches Omen by HP Challenger Series Tournament
PCW Evaluation Team
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Oppo Find X: Full, in-depth review
- Panasonic FZ1000U OLED TV: Full, in-depth, review
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?