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Customer Review

74 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poorly executed game with a lot of promise, November 18, 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition - PC (Video Game)
L.A. Noire follows the exploits of a WWII vet and now burgeoning cop Cole Phelps through 1940s Los Angeles. Rockstar has created a fantastically detailed overworld which bests its previous Grand Theft Auto series graphically and in its attention to detail. The game centers on sleuthing for clues and dramatic encounters that you have as you attempt to squeeze the truth out of witnesses and suspects and Rockstar has taken extraordinary measures in casting fantastic actors and using facial scanning software to create the most authentic and emotional interactions between characters which I've ever seen in a game.

Unfortunately, despite this incredibly promising platform, the game itself is pretty poorly executed. Though graphically beautiful, Rockstar seems to have done a slap job in porting and optimizing the game for the PC, and my fairly beefy PC frequently choked and stuttered to deliver consistent framerates even at modest settings. A couple of nearly barren rooms were so inexplicably shakey as to make moving about them difficult. It's possible that patches and updates in the future will address this, but who knows. Another big annoyance is the fact that you cannot skip cut-scenes. If you ever fail a portion of a mission you have to watch the cut-scene before your part which can be several minutes long. If it's a tough chase, you might end up having to watch the same scene seven or eight times.

The overworld is also surprisingly dull. Despite being an enormous recreation of 1940s Los Angeles, with incredible attention to architecture, pedestrians, automobiles and the signs and products of the time, there's hardly anything to actually do. Unlike the sort of anything-goes sandbox free-for-all which made the Grand Theft Auto series so popular, you really cannot do much more than walk, drive or sit outside of the locations of your current case. So while you can spend hours exploring the vast map, there's little incentive to do so. The game even penalizes you for driving recklessly. There are 40 small "street crime" side missions where you can chase down a thug, but there's little reward for doing so. With nothing to really discover driving between points on my mission, I ending up having my partner drive, which fortunately warps you to your destination immediately.

The gameplay is on rails. A case shifts between clue-finding and interviews with other people, with the occasional shoot-out or car/foot chase of a suspect. Clue-finding involves walking around a scene until a chime plays, clicking and then viewing the clue as characters comment on it. Interviewing requires you to determine if statements made by witnesses are either true, doubtful or a lie. Your interview choices with witnesses do have some bearing on how the case plays out and what evidence you can collect, but not nearly as much as the game wants you to believe. You as the player have so little control with the scene and story that you feel much more like you're watching a 1940s Law and Order episode. It's a bit like a story with some gameplay as opposed to a traditional videogame tied together with some cutscenes. You will spend about 90% of your play time watching characters interact and walking around rooms, trying to find the next clue.

The idea of a game driven by story more than gameplay isn't a completely terrible concept. The acting itself is fantastically captured and can be really dramatic at times, just as dramatic as if it were a live-cut scene with actors in the flesh as opposed to pixels. The problem is that the story itself is pretty mediocre. Every case is little more than a formulaic task of investigating the crime scene for clues, questioning witnesses for leads, investigating said leads for more information, chasing down suspects, making a suspect confess, case closed. What kept me playing through to the end was the overarching story, which ties together each of the cases. I finished sorely disappointed. For all the hours of game play, the protagonist isn't developed as anyone much deeper than a WWII vet hesitant to discuss his past and a cop with an upstanding sense of morality. Without giving away too much, this lack of development makes it difficult to understand certain decisions made by Cole and makes you feel distanced as a player. The ending is very anticlimactic and unsatisfying and there's no point in replaying old missions.

So while the game is very beautiful and the acting very good, I can't recommend buying L.A. Noire to anyone. I hope Rockstar incorporates the sort of face scanning and acting into their new games.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 23, 2011 8:52:20 AM PST
Excellent review. Although I haven't finished the game I'm finding that I have all the same disappointments you mention. It's a great concept but the interface gets seriously annoying and that driving business -- hoo boy, could they make that any clunkier? (Developers please look at Borderlands. "W", "S" and the mouse. Now THAT'S how you drive a vehicle.) The fact that this only has 25 reviews to date is telling. It's worth playing but not at full price.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012 11:17:37 AM PDT
Winter says:
This is a great review and I thank you for writing it. It's also helped me sort out a little doubt I'd had in my mind...I've played console ports on the PC and seen an overall improvement from how bad they used to be, and then I ran across Alice: Madness Returns. The issues you point out in your review of L.A. Noire sound a *lot* like the way EA handled the PC port of Madness Returns. I hate to see it happen but I'm glad we've got people like you warning PC gamers away from pitfalls like this.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:37:46 PM PST
Chuck says:
Guessing the time I wasted playing this is almost made up for by the 60 people I deterred from buying it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:59:47 PM PST
Winter says:
Exactly, Chuck! It means you've succeeded in getting your message across. If people who disagree with you aren't slagging you on the details, then you've made some valid points. I liked your review, so I certainly encourage you to write more.

Posted on Jul 7, 2015 12:23:52 PM PDT
John Eyatra says:
How is this a review of the actual product? I am looking for review of the purchased item and the seller, not the game itself. That is what IGN is for!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2015 12:38:33 PM PDT
Chuck says:
Sorry John, that's what Amazon reviews are for, especially for items shipped and sold by Amazon.
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