L.A. Noire is a realistic game
in many respects. Players must follow traffic laws when driving, for example,
or else they are penalized at the end of the case. An expansive and detailed
map of Los Angeles
allows players to find their way around and mark various points of interest.
L.A. Noire is an interesting case. It proceeds linearly, but it is
curious in that it openly allows players to make mistakes. Cases always feature
plenty of opportunities for players to miss pieces of evidence or incorrectly
connect information during an interrogation. Some cases even allow players a
choice of characters to ultimately accuse. Players' decisions may even affect
the overall plot of the game as the larger stories come into focus.
Besides these more interesting elements, players are also allowed room to
explore the streets of L.A, finding hidden collectibles and hunting down
small-time criminals. These activities add to a player’s rank, which has
several rewards, including the fascinating Intuition Points.
By the Developer:
L.A. Noire is a unique game, though most of its elements can be traced
back clearly. Plenty of games offer similar action sequences, and the game's
mysteries and interrogations can be traced directly to various point-and-click
adventure games and particularly to the Phoenix Wright series of
What L.A. Noire does
is combine these elements into a highly-polished package. The game - like all
of Roackstar's output - clearly has amazing production values. The voiced
dialogue, film noir style, amazing facial animations and fully-realized edition
of 1940's Los Angeles are enough to leave many players in awe, and the game's
mysteries are well-written enough to match. A few innovative touches also
impress, including the online player-polling Intuition Points and skippable
Ultimately players can find deeper versions of L.A. Noire's mechanics in
other, more niche titles. But never has what is essentially an adventure game
been made so accessible and had such great production values. L.A. Noire is
sure to inspire followers.
Business skills are not prominent. Players are assessed a dollar value based on
the damage they caused during any given case. Players do not collect money in
the game, but high damage values can lead to lower rankings.
Players also receive a limited number of Intuition Points throughout the game
that can be used at crucial moments to help solve a case. They come along
rarely enough the players are encouraged to conserve them carefully.
L.A. Noire is in some ways all
about people skills, though it is a single player game. Players will
interrogate a number of suspects, and one of the game's central mechanics
involves reading their faces to detect dishonesty. While sometimes a piece of
evidence will openly break down a statement, more often players will need to
detect a lie that they have no proof of. Players that pay careful attention to
the details of a case will often be able to spot these, but they can also usually
be spotted based on the expressions on the characters' faces. L.A. Noire's
face-rendering technology has been one of its most-touted features, and it is
One other interesting bit involves the game's Intuition Points. After a witness
statement players must decide whether they believe it, doubt it, or can prove
that it is a lie. One use of intuition points is to poll other players of the
game online and see what the most popular response was.
Players that pay attention to the story carefully are most likely to be
successful in L.A. Noire's cases. Characters will constantly make
statements that don't ring true, and it's up to players to know when this
happens. A notebook filled with details on collected evidence is always
available, but it's almost always more important to know the details of the
One of the interesting things about L.A. Noire, though, is that players
are completely allowed to make mistakes. Phelps can skip investigations and
even send the wrong people to jail and the game continues on. Rather than
saying that the player has failed, it is more that the character has made a
mistake. It's an interesting alternative to the idea that players must see one
line of conclusions through to the end of a game.
Then there are L.A. Noire's action sequences, which are less forgiving.
Phelps often finds himself chasing suspects through alleys or waging lengthy
gunfights against superior numbers, and here there is only one possible
outcome: Phelps has to win.
Players that fail repeatedly, however, are allowed to skip these sequences and
go straight to the next phase of the case. This is a concession to
inexperienced players, to be sure, and allows those interested in the game's
well-written mysteries to experience them without the typical
"videogame" stuff getting in the way.
L.A. Noire is not a simulation
game, though it constantly calls back to various tropes from "film
noir" movies. It also includes a city inspired by 1940's Los Angeles, and while the game is clearly
fictitious it does tend towards realism for the most part.
L.A. Noire has had an
impressive reception. The statements made by some reviewers that it
revolutionizes videogame storytelling are easy to read as hyperbole, but the
game's story has been praised consistently. The game's few criticisms are aimed
at its sometimes-repetitive nature and action sequences that can feel forced.
can toggle various hint systems that offer aural cues to the locations of clues
on crime scenes. While the game defaults to a color display, players can change
it to black and white in homage to the film noir style the game borrows so
heavily from. Standard options are also available.
L.A. Noire was rated M by the ESRB with descriptors for Blood and Gore,
Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Violence.