‘LA Noire redefines gaming’, critics declare
Five-star reviews praiseground-breakingtechnology, strong actingand innovative game play
When a reviewer calls a new release "one of the most important games I've ever played", it's probably worth sitting up and grabbing your controller. That's how the Daily Telegraph's Tom Hoggins described LA Noire, joining his fellow critics in heralding Rockstar Games' latest offering as a 'game changer'.
"Ever since it first worked out how to assemble pixels so that they resembled something more recognisable than aliens, the games industry has dreamed of creating one thing above all else," explained the Guardian's Steve Boxer. "A game that is indistinguishable from a film."
"With LA Noire," he continued, "it just might, finally, have found the embodiment of that particular holy grail."
The game is set in Los Angeles, 1947. Our hero, the World War II veteran-turned LAPD detective Cole Phelps (played by Mad Men's Aaron Staton).
Confident and fresh-faced, Phelps must solve a host of gruesome crimes in LA's dark underbelly as he struggles his way up the greasy pole, encountering corruption and brutality in equal measure.
Driven by narrative rather than simply game play, LA Noire's much-praised realism is partly a result of innovative technology. The game was made using 'Motion Scan', a motion capture technique which details every minute movement of an actor's performance and transposes it onto the game's animated character.
"Seeing it in action is genuinely astounding," says Tom Hoggins. This is especially true of interrogation sequences, when players must read a suspect's face "with the tiniest flick of an eye or curling of the lips clearly visible." He concludes: "It's deeply impressive stuff, and quite unlike any other conversation system we have seen."
But it's not only technological wizardly that Rockstar - the makers of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption - rely on. Great acting drives the story. "322 actors delivered voice performances for the game," writes Seth Schiesel in the New York Times, "and their efforts are generally superb. The Rockstar hallmark — gritty, believable, wry dialogue — is on full display".
Part of LA Noire's appeal is the intricately detailed 1940s Los Angeles, which creates a feel that "would be right at home in a classic film noir," according to GameSpot's Carolyn Petit. "Those smoky nights spent listening to jazz at the Blue Room, and the price you paid for them, will stay with you long after you've retired your badge and gun."
The game is not without its niggles: the monotony of investigating 21 consecutive crime scenes means "evidence, interview, gunfight/brawl/chase can feel like lather, rinse, repeat," for Evan Narcisse of Time. The simplified gunplay, a deliberate ploy to widen the game's appeal, may also frustrate experienced gamers.
Critics universally agree, however, that these minor complaints are overwhelmingly dwarfed by the game's ambition. Absorbing and uniquely realistic, they say, LA Noire is a revolutionary step forward in gaming. ·
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