“L.A. Noire,” developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, delivers a cinematic gaming experience following the character Cole Phelps through his career as a detective. The game incorporates photorealistic faces to portray the emotions of its characters.
This is an important feature of “L.A. Noire,” as it expects the player to read the facial cues of suspects and witnesses in order to determine the validity of their testimonies. After questioning, the player is offered three options once a character has finished their story: Truth, Lie and Doubt.
Cole can believe their stories, allowing them to continue their train of thought, and grant valuable information (or, in the case of a lie, misinformation). If the player chooses to call the suspect into doubt Cole will question the statement’s logic or threaten violence if the testifier doesn’t set the record straight. The final option is to catch the suspect in a lie, and to prove it with evidence discovered through the investigation.Though this mechanic is immensely satisfying upon completion of a successful interrogation, it doesn’t always behave in the way one might want it to. The “Doubt” option
can be particularly dubious, triggering dialogue ranging from a simple assertion that the testifier knows more than he or she is letting on, to actually insinuating full blown murder charges.
It is extraordinarily frustrating for Cole to make a wild accusation and frustrate the witness, especially when it causes the interrogation to end.
In spite of its flaws, this is a unique game with a lot of great things going for it. “L.A. Noire” manages to seamlessly incorporate shooting sequences, chase scenes, interrogation, investigation, and exploration points together in the same game without bowing too much under the weight of its own ambition.
Most games attempting to diversify their gameplay ultimately fail and only manage to detract from the core gaming experience which they originally set out to portray. “L.A. Noire” makes its primary goal to tell an engaging story with interesting characters. I find it ironic that it makes the player feel more in-control of the plot flow than most sandbox games would dare assert.
While “L.A. Noire” may not be a new gold standard for storytelling in games, it’s certainly an interesting turn, and I for one would love to see more games coming from a similar angle in the near future.
“L.A. Noire” earns a very gritty M rating from the ESRB, containing blood and gore, sexual themes, strong language, use of drugs, and violence, this isn’t one for the kids.