Let’s get it out of the way. LA Noire is not a game for everyone. The story is cliched, oddly paced and tropey. The incredibly expensive facial recognition tech is somewhat let down by the clunky dialogue system.
But in spite of all that, it does a fantastic job of capturing the feel of being at the heart of Noir Detective stories. Even Better, LA Noire is a perfect game to play with a group of friends. Following the clues, making connections and catching lying witnesses out is better with company
As rookie LAPD detective Cole Phelps, you’ll investigate cases across the city, in the Traffic, Homicide and Vice departments. Fresh from fighting the Japanese in the War, you’ve got the guts and gumption to make it far in the Police Force. Along the way, you’ll have a cast of intriguing support characters and partners and a rogues gallery of some truly despicable villains. Solve cases, climb the ranks and try and navigate the (incredibly sexist and racist and corrupt) world of the early 50’s in America.
There’s some weird idiosyncrasies in the game. The huge Rockstar Open World doesn’t really add much to the game, and I found myself skipping ahead with the fast travel options.
The gunplay is perfunctory, and the (infrequent) fistfight sequences end up being rather obtuse to control.
But the bright lights of the Interview Room are enticing. The game shines when the investigation elements work.
Cases play out in a fairly linear fashion, but it still captures the feeling of a detective story as the player hunts for clues and follows up on leads. Sitting with friends to play has the effect of mimicking the best feeling of watching Whodunnits.
Then come the Interviews themselves. As you watch the incredibly detailed faces of motion captured actors strive to display innocence or guilt, being able to turn to a friend and ask their thoughts is reassuring. Finally, the moment that the group realizes just how the evidence can link the criminal to the victim is a truly sweet one.
The game is many years old now, readily available on PC and being remastered soon for PS4, Xbox One and Switch, as well as Vive.
So if you can, get your gumshoes on. Grab the trilby (never fedora) and get ready to enter the grimy world of being an LAPD Detective. Just maybe bring a friend along to keep you on the straight and narrow.