Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gaming Tuesday- L.A. Noire Review

I really don't feel comfortable getting too in-depth in talking about this game yet. I feel like L.A. Noire is particularly spoiler prone. I don't think I can give a little bit away to illustrate a point without people being able to figure out the bigger storyline. So, I think I'm going to have to make this shorter than my reviews have been in the past. I'm going to make a big general statement to avoid constantly doing this:

In that one mission where your chasing this man or woman who you found in that one place. The way that chase comes to a conclusion, that was well done.

A quick refresher on how reviews work here. A game starts with 50 "Nerd points" and I add or subtract (pretty arbitrarily I might add) points for things I like or dislike. I've only used this "official" model two games to this point. I should probably do some more, but for now here's a bit of perspective on the scoring:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 82.5
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood 78.5

This method is really just a gauge of my initial reaction to a game. I mean, I did end up giving Game of the Year to Brotherhood, so opinions can change. But enough of that, let's get to L.A. Noire.

As I stated earlier, I'm not going to give concrete examples as to why the story is great (+20). It manages to flow very well without conforming to the usual way open-world games work (+1). The story really had me engaged and I didn't want to stop playing, because I really needed to know what would happen next. The story definitely falls into Film Noir cliches*, but I don't think that's a detriment.

The gameplay mechanics are solid as one would expect with a rock star game (+2). It controls like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV. The thing I was probably most impressed by was how Bondi and Rockstar managed to keep it fun while you controlled the Good Guy (+1). Interrogation was an area that particular concerned me coming into this game, but I think the system that's in place works very well (+4). The player has to think, understand the context of the interview and be able to read, at times, subtle movements to get it right.

There is something that is holding this back from being one of the premier games for this generation of consoles. There is just a sloppiness to this game. The story is brilliant. The character are well developed and the voice acting is good. However, there are a lot of little things that tend to glitch out (-2). There are disappearing cars and people. On occasion you will teleport out of the car instead of doing like a normal person. I've experienced random frame-rate issues that seem to have no rhyme or reason. There's nothing major wrong, but it lacks the polish the Red Dead Redemption had.

One final fault with L.A. Noire, is that it's not as friendly to completists, such as myself, as a game like it ought to be (-1). The Rockstar Social Club does help (+.5). However, during the very long story there is little time or opportunity for collectables. It's not that awful, because I expected to spend more hours collecting after completing the story than I did playing the actual game, but a little head start would have been nice. This is just another minor thing.

L.A. Noire is a great game. It offers an excellent story in a gaming world that is now so often without great campaigns to play, because of the emphasis on multiplayer. It's minor flaws certainly are nowhere near game-breaking, but they show a lack of crispness that one should expect out of such a big title from a big game developer. L.A. is a brilliant game and though I may sound critical, I highly recommend it.

75.5 Nerd Points

Thanks for reading and please comment.

*I was acutely aware of those cliches, because I had a lecture about Film Noir just a few days before the game was released. Talk about timing.

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