L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

L.A Noire is an interactive detective story set in the classic noir period of the late 1940s, blending action, detection and complex storytelling.

Review Verdict Read Review
10Out of 10
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L.A. Noire screenshot
L.A. Noire screenshot

Physical clues aside, the bulk of your discoveries will crop up during face-to-face interviews with suspects and witnesses. You'll choose a topic for discussion from your pad, press the interviewee, and then watch their face for a response. Depending on how the subject acts, you choose to react with one of three responses: truth, doubt or lie - the latter requiring you to produce an item of evidence to back up your claim. There's a bit of a learning curve here; it's usually fairly obvious when someone is telling the truth, but it's often harder to tell whether someone is merely being evasive (requiring doubt) or actually telling you an outright porkie pie.

The suspects in early cases give the game away quite easily, for obvious reasons, but before long you'll find yourself profiling suspects on an individual basis, contrasting their current reaction with those you've already seen. It's in this manner that you'll decide whether that young Communist agitator is glaring at you because he's telling the truth, or because he hates your guts and wants to stay clammed up.

Naturally, this kind of gameplay is only made possible by Rockstar's much discussed MotionScan technology. I'm not usually the kind of gamer who dribbles all over this kind of thing, but the fact remains that the end result here is little short of groundbreaking. Games like Uncharted 2 and Heavy Rain have already made massive leaps in this area, but after LA Noire it seems unfathomable that we’ll ever be able to sit through cutscenes packed with jerky mannequins and wooden dialogue. The quality of acting on display in a single case is enough to trump the vast majority of top-tier games; when you consider the complete selections of believably flawed miscreants - the mobsters, perverts, and barflies - there's a strong case for this being one the strongest NPC casts we've ever seen.

And yet as impressive as MotionScan is, it's arguably the underlying infrastructure that makes the game work as well as it does. I've already covered the neat design of the investigation mechanics, but there's actually a similar degree of thought behind every aspect of play. There's an in-built hint system in place, masked as "Intuition", which acts like a Raymond Chandler version of the simplifiers in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? These powers only ever make your life easier, rather than giving you the answer outright, and their use is inherently limited. As you successfully interview suspects, complete Dispatch quests and visit landmarks dotted around the map, you'll earn XP which slowly fills a Rank meter. Level up, and you'll either earn an intuition point, or unlock some other form of reward - a new suit for Phelps, or hidden cars to find scattered about the map.

If there's one aspect of LA Noire that the hardcore will struggle with, it's this inherent accessibility. Even if you ignore the option of Intuition, this isn't a hard game. Screwing up at a crime scene or interview won't end your game, but instead force your investigation onto a different path, demanding that you find the answer elsewhere. As the case was with Heavy Rain last year, it's important to resist the gamer's instinct to reload when things do go wrong, because the ongoing struggle for the truth is what drives the game onward. Frankly, it's quite remarkable how adept the game is at cleverly shuffling its narrative threads. The very first interrogation you conduct resorts to a spot of suspect amnesia if you foul up, but from that point on it your efforts invariably feel like genuine organic detective work.

One of the very real pleasures of LA Noire is the manner in which it subconsciously teaches you to follow a set procedure. By the time you reach Homicide you'll know the drill: show up at the scene, speak to the coroner and attending officer, then take a look at the evidence before you chat to the witnesses. As subsequent clues reveal themselves, you'll make a habit of using Gamewells - roadside telephones - to call on supporting services back at HQ. You'll know that when you show up at an apartment, the mailboxes will show you whose door to kick down.

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Highest Rated Comment

El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev@ SexyJams

Have you got two kidneys?
Posted 20:45 on 16 May 2011

User Comments

guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ ReadySteadyGo

I didn't actually pay £40 for it - it was actually a rental from Lovefilm - it was just a bit of banter :0)
Posted 10:33 on 24 May 2012
p0rtalthinker's Avatar


I quite liked L.A. Noire, but yes, not really a tenner for me. I can see where you fell in love with the game though Neon :)
Posted 18:20 on 23 May 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar


The best part of the game was the podcast discussion it generated ('the DOG did it!!') :D

Hell, that would have made for a much better story/overall plot...
Posted 17:47 on 23 May 2012
squidman's Avatar


This game was the worst episode of Mad Men I have ever seen.
Posted 17:45 on 23 May 2012
ReadySteadyGo's Avatar


I thought the game was cracking myself but no idea why Guyderman paid 40 for it when it's been cheaper than that, even at launch.

My main gripe is that the DLC should have been released when the game came out as it was all set during the main game rather than after.

Also Rockstar didn't just publish it, in fact Team Bondi didn't complete it and it was a mad rush for it to be completed in time by some of the Rockstar studios. I think it was Rockstar San Diego (Red Dead) and North (GTA) who finished the game. I know Rockstar Leeds did the PC game mind.
Posted 17:29 on 23 May 2012
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ dav2612

No, you're quite right. If I were to re-review it, I'd still be very positive about it. It's a game I've gone back to and replayed, which is something I rarely do these days (Dark Souls is the most recent example). Though I didn't finish it the second time, which probably says something.

In this case, it was a mistake - because I don't feel like it's worth that number. Red Dead Redemption, on the other hand, is absolutely a 10 for me. I adore that game, it's one of my highlights of this and every other gen.

As I say, I still have a lot of love for LA Noire, but it's a flawed experience to say the least, and with hindsight I think a lot of things I admire about it have very little to do with gameplay or technical coherence. I have no doubt that there are other people out there who have similar affection for it, and like me they're probably people who are massive fans of James Ellroy and co.
Posted 17:22 on 23 May 2012
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ mydeaddog

I accept Paypal!
Posted 17:21 on 23 May 2012
dav2612's Avatar

dav2612@ mydeaddog

Was it really that much of a mistake though? It's not like you scored it 10 and on reflection now you would give it 3. From what you said above, it doesn't sound like you'd still be writing a review that would put people off.
Posted 17:10 on 23 May 2012
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ Clockpunk

Haha, don't mate. I think it's fair enough that I should feel a tad sheepish, but I'm a big boy now and can admit my mistakes!

@guyderman Fair enough, but due to my heavy debts I'll have to pay you back at the rate of 1p per month. Send an SAE to the VG address and I'll post you a penny for May's fee.
Posted 17:08 on 23 May 2012
guyderman's Avatar


I don't - I only bought it because it got a perfect 10! You owe me £40!!!!
Posted 17:06 on 23 May 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ mydeaddog


I feel bad now...

... a little...

sorry, old chap! :p
Posted 16:30 on 23 May 2012


If you still have it, Game are offering a £10 PSN card for 99p against the PS3 version.
Posted 16:25 on 23 May 2012
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ Clockpunk

You have no idea how much that score pains me. Most of us have a review or two that we got wrong, but that one really does hurt to reflect upon.

In all honesty, I still do have a huge amount of time and affection for LA Noire, and I'd still score it higher than the vast majority of gamers... but a 10 was a seriously bad call on my part.

So, there you go. Apologies to anyone who bought this on my advice and then hated it. I done goofed.
Posted 16:13 on 23 May 2012
draytone's Avatar


I know its a Team Bondi game and Rockstar only published it, but still, I always expect the very best from Rockstar.
Posted 09:06 on 22 May 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar


Nope, still not forgiven Neon for that one! :p
Posted 21:20 on 21 May 2012

Game Stats

Technical Specs
L.A. Noire
Out of 10
L.A. Noire
  • Original, intuitive game design
  • Superlative voice acting throughout
  • Nails the era to a tee
  • Action controls could be better
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 20/05/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Team Bondi
Publisher: Rockstar
Genre: Third-person shooter
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 548 99
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