Fight Crime in the 40's!

It’s not very often that I play a Rockstar published game that I thoroughly enjoy for more than 5 minutes. I know, it sounds like I’m not giving the games a proper chance, but for some reason I can’t get over the fact that I’m being thrown into a world that is, for all intents and purposes, just a sandbox filled with… sand. But wait! The genre itself by definition is supposed to just make you want to screw around in a city, right?

“I can kill that guy? Cool! I can drive that car!? Awesome! Wait… there’s a story here? There’s a goal? I’m supposed to want to finish the game? Why?”

This is generally my personal line of thought when playing games like the Grand Theft Auto series. The games pride themselves on expansive cities (In which only about a dozen buildings can be entered) filled with non-playable characters (whom only two dozen of which have something to say). There’s just nothing else there. Anti-heroes + stupid motives + cars + uncoupling plots = Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar’s flagship series.

This year, however, something strange happened.... Rockstar released a hugely hyped title developed by Team Bondi that actually felt like a video game and not a crime simulator!

It's called L.A. Noire.

Essentially, the title is a noire story. Most of us can predict that it’s going to involve damsels, cops, and crime scenes. And we would be absolutely correct.

L.A. Noire tells the story of LAPD detective Cole Phelps, a war vet who has recently been trying to put his noble heart to good use on the streets of Los Angeles. This may seem like your average noire tale, and that’s because it is.

The game-play itself revolves around gathering clues and interrogating suspects. In some ways, it feels a lot like Yu Suzuki’s famous/infamous creation from the late 90’s (Shenmue).

The story isn’t incredibly spectacular, but the delivery is, given the current situation of things. (There’s an extremely thin, fine line between storytelling in videogames and in films in the current generation.) This is no Red Dead Redemption folks. There’s no free roaming lasso swinging chaos at will here. This is essentially a story driven game. The technology used to capture facial expressions of the actors might as well be considered industry standard from this point on because, quite frankly, if you’re going to tell a story in an industry with standards as high as today’s, you better be prepared to deliver some A-list performances. If you’ve played the game, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t played the game, go play it. I still am. Oh, and the soundtrack is a brilliant mixture of music one would expect to hear in a Noire film.

Click here to listen to a sample.

The games seems to rack up quite a few hours of playtime. There are supposedly 21 main cases that are split up into different chapters of the game. In addition to the main storyline, there are 40 or so small “street crimes” to pick up. I’m about two thirds into the main cases, finished 16 street crimes and I still have a ways to go, which is a good thing. It’s been too long since I’ve actually enjoyed driving around a large city looking for things to do in this type of videogame.

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