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4.5 out of 5

by Tim

Rockstar Games is finally trying something different with L.A. Noire, they are setting aside their childish gameplay for a story driven experience – and I am on board one-hundred percent.      

Yes, the Grand Theft Auto formula is still in place – you’ve got the open world with the little map in the corner - but instead of causing problems for the police – you are the police.  You play as Cole Phelps, an up and coming police officer new to crime driven Los Angeles, California.  You play as Cole while he goes up and down in the ranks.       

Gameplay can be slow in many areas, but that’s only when comparing this game to Grand Theft Auto and all of its clones out there.  You are a police officer investigating a crime scene, of course it will be slow.  I think if they cut out the slow and occasionally monotonous gameplay, it would take away from the storytelling experience.  I actually felt like a 1940’s detective during this game, and I felt connected with each and every character that I came across.  Which leads me to one of the highlights of this game, the characters.  Each character seen from beginning to end was different, there was no carbon copy of anyone seen in the game.  There were no over the top characters either, Rockstar thankfully kept them in the Grand Theft Auto series.  I felt as though I was re-living a Hollywood movie because each crime scene, each suspect, and each victim felt so real and compelling.  For the first time in a video game, it felt as though these characters had real emotions… which had something to do with the amazing facial technology they used in the game.  Although I do feel that they used their budget on the facial/character graphics, and the background suffered in the progress.  Shadows rendered on the wall seemed poorly executed, they often looked pixilated and fake.       

I would have enjoyed more of a reason to explore the streets of L.A., sure it’s free-roam, but I felt no need to explore more than what was needed.  You do get the occasional police call to help in a crime in progress, but that was about it.  So I felt that the open world wasn’t as necessary as they thought.  Some of the chase scenes became more of a nuisance than others; you always knew when someone was about to run, and it often took away from the experience.  And unfortunately, the replay value is pretty low.  I completed the story within sixteen hours and I feel no need to go back for a second try.  Adding more of a reason to delve into the story and world would have given this game a nearly perfect score.       

If you are a fan of Shenmue, like I am… you will love this game!