Wednesday, May 16, 2012

L.A. Noire // A Very Special TL;DR at 3:00 AM

There comes a time when a developer comes along and gives birth to a gritty beautiful piece of art. L.A. Noire has an air of uniqueness and innovation because it's the first game to have a hand in merging and incorporating elements in cinema and video gaming as storytelling expressions and aesthetics


It's a lovechild of two successful talented names: Rockstar and Team Bondi-- which in retrospect have conceived some of the world's best open world game titles ever released.

 I was very excited with this game's release as I already had a history with noir films and Rockstar's games.

As opposed to Rockstar's general way of going through games (shoot all the things!) L.A. Noire takes a different approach. It takes some aspects police discretion and precision to effectively play L.A. Noire.  It isn't GTA in the sense of  'you play as the cop'--  well sort of but there's so much more and that's what makes it brilliant.

  • The Narrative


"The Golden Age of Hollywood, 1947 L.A. was also among the most violent and corrupt years in the city's history."

Set in the 1940's it depicts an idiosyncratic period painted with crime and glamour. The game contains a huge array of actors whose faces are stunningly accurately transferred into the game itself. With all these elements L.A. Noire's, carefully crafted, unstable fictional universe is created. Also dat soundtrack.

L.A. Noire has been directly inspired by the Noir film era of the 1940's and 50's. During the cut scenes it's evident that the cinematic closeups the use of contrasting shadows  are very much directly inspired from Noir film style. Oh and yeah you can play it in black and white if you wish.



The Game's cinematic Intro -- so much foreshadowing


You are the heroic and controversial Cole Phelps (Aaron Staton). You fought in World War II as an officer from that point that's all you know. The game will disclose the story as the game progresses in 'flashback' form. The best way to communicate the story is to actually play it instead of reading my description though  . . .

  • The Gameplay 

You have weapons, you can change your clothes, you are free to cruise around in your cop mobile and explore a historically accurate adaptation of Los Angeles in its prime. There are many open world features that have been adapted from previous Rockstar games, however, L.A. Noire ditches the shootout mentality from its ancestors and instead you must solve cases through investigation, interviews and interrogation. 
L.A. Noire still holds up to being an action game with pursuit, fist fights, and shootouts. There's so much more and less.

They see me rollin'

L.A. Noire is often noted for its interrogation feature in the game. This is the part of the game where you sit down with a character ask them questions-- like any other interrogation. L.A. Noire makes this an interactive situation and is one of the most iconic features to the game.

You have to decide for yourself if this person is withholding information based on the way they interact with you.

To make this actually work a developer has to actually be able to depict human emotion even at the most subtle level. L.A. Noire is the first game to capture this effectively as it is an important aspect-- the interrogations wouldn't make any sense.

Cole examining a victim of a serial killer who is supposedly linked to the black dahlia killer.

The gameplay though is often found to be very formulaic because it is. You examine the crime scene, you gather clues and evidence that lead you to different locations where you can interrogate more people, and once these tasks been accomplished you try to solve the case. Rinse and then repeat. 

This sort of mechanic causes people to not even finish the game-- as the game's motivation crumbles and dissipates into nothing. This was not the case for my experience though. 
Enjoying certain games can be subjective-- this is why people have different tastes. 
I am methodical person, I don't mind repeating myself especially if the system works-- this system worked for me. A huge part of L.A. Noire is also its narrative which also had a huge aspect of making me 'hold on' and ignore the formulaic system.

  • Innovation and Technology
The characters were realistic in this game. This is because they were real. I already saw technology like this coming but am still surprised that it came the way it did.

After finishing L.A. Noire gaming aesthetics changed for me. Along with many others it was common for me to notice how unrealistic game characters actually look in other games-- but this has never 'rustled my jimmies' because there's really no reason why all game characters should look so authentic. L.A. Noire had to have this feature because of the interrogations-- and they were successful at it.

Dat face.


The MotionScan technology found here is absolutely stunning and I believe we will see this again in other games in the future, although most games don't really require this level of detail. It's a huge leap and definitely helps in the art of immersion interactive storytelling. Even with its flaws L.A. Noire definitely affects the world of video games profoundly with its deep ambition and innovation.

Okay I'm done . . .
Thanks for Reading!



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