Let’s start with what L.A. noire is not. L.A. Noire is NOT Grand theft Auto or Mafia 2. While there are sections of the game contain shooting or car chases, most of the game centers around investigation and interrogation. There are 21 cases total that each last 1 to 2 hours that each feel like a self contained episode from a television show. You start with the crime scene, find some clues, follow leads to other locations, find additional clues, chase down your suspects, and then interrogate and charge someone for the crime.
Clue finding in L.A. Noire is pretty simple and straightforward especially if you have clue help enabled. With the help enabled, interactable objects will vibrate your controller and play a sound when you are near them. You investigate objects or corpses until you find between 2-4 clues that are important to your case. When you pick up an important object with a clue the game lets you know by zooming in on the item and making a note in your notebook. You can refer to them at any point and use them in interrogations. Overall the clue finding is pretty simple and it’s hard to miss clues if you have the help enabled. If you want a more challenging experience I suggest turning hints and help off.
Interrogation involves asking questions out of your notebook to a person and choosing whether or not they are telling the truth or lying. If you feel they are lying you must either provide proof they are lying or chance it and fake that you have evidence. There is only one correct choice for each question. The game has optional musical cues letting you know if you got it right or wrong. Answering correctly will reveal more clues and information than if you get it wrong. The game however has fail-safes in the event you completely fail an interview in order to allow you to continue progressing.
In between locations you will drive around in one of many vehicles through an enormous replica of 1940’s Los Angeles. Similar to Grand Theft Auto you can select locations and a flag will show on your minimap guiding you there. As you drive random street cases will pop up that you can participate in which usually just involves a quick shootout, foot chase, or car chase. There are also 30 landmarks, 95 cars to unlock and 50 golden records hidden throughout the map that are only useful for the trophies/achievements but provide you something to do. Other than the thing mentioned before there is not much to do in the city except what you would do if you were in grand theft auto but with no gun. Unlike GTA, you are the cops so you can commit all the crimes you want no one cares.
Some of the most compelling features of this game are the motion capture faces, acting and the story. Each mission is well written and entertaining with some being better written than others. The facial capture technology is absolutely breathtaking with how much detail and how much emotion can be seen. Each actor and actress (yes not just voice cause you see their faces too) is believable and brings each character to life. Very much like a television show, each of the cases has a self contained story but is connected to the overall plot of the game. The main story line is very well written and true to the noire genre and will leave you dying for a sequel.
Overall the mechanics of this game are simplistic and straightforward enough for most anyone to be able to pick up but with enough complexity to challenge even avid gamers. The game will challenge your brain more often than your reflexes as you piece together evidence and interrogate suspects. When you finally complete your last mission you will be craving more. You’ll be craving for more not because you didn’t get enough game or that the ending is a cliffhanger, but because the game is so refreshing and new in an age of game clones. This game will not appeal to everyone since the emphasis is on the investigation and not shooting. This game is such a rewarding experience that everyone should try even if you only rent it. Please support these developers for daring to make something new, original, and fun by purchasing a new copy. As gamers we get sequels by voting with our wallets. Please vote for this game!