L.A. Noire review
A world away from Grand Theft Auto. There's little freedom in this noir crime epic, but the great characters, plot and production values will keep you entertained to the end
Review Date: 18 Jun 2011
Price when reviewed: £37
Reviewed By: Seth Barton
The gameplay recreates classic police procedural novels and TV series - a structure familiar from cop shows as divergent as The Bill and CSI. Each episode starts with a suitably vague depiction of the (often) grisly deed being done, before cutting to Phelps, and one of a series of gruff partners, being dispatched to investigate the crime scene. You then investigate any leads until the perpetrator becomes clear.
This investigation part of the game breaks down into searching for clues, interrogating witnesses and suspects, plus the odd unique puzzle. Searching crime scenes, or suspects' houses, is pretty straightforward; you simply walk Phelps about until the joypad gives a small rumble to indicate an item of potential interest - sometimes a red herring. You can then pick it up and manipulate it to look for clues, and anything you find of interest is logged in your notebook.
It's best to look for clues first, before talking to anyone, as these are essential to get the most out of the characters you meet. And they really are characters, with some fantastic facial animation - captured directly from the voice actors as they delivered their lines. Once they've answered your initial question, you can react in three ways.
If you think they're telling the truth, you can go easy and try to coax more information from them. If you doubt what they're saying, or feel they're avoiding the question, then you can badger them for more info. Finally, if you have a piece of evidence that directly contradicts what they said, then you can accuse them of lying and back it up from your notebook.
The high quality of both the acting and the technology capturing it, lets you make a decent stab at whether the suspect is telling the truth. You can hear the nervousness in the voice, or see a guilty sideways glance. Sometimes, you do come unstuck, unsure whether a particular piece of evidence will support your theory. But generally it rewards careful investigation and logical thinking as you'd expect.
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