In the tradition of Sierra’s Police Quest series or the Tex Murphy FMV games from Access comes the latest from the-studio-that-can-do-no-wrong, Rockstar. Acting as distributors, they have obviously given developer Team Bondi the proper lessons in how to make a completely compelling video game product.
L.A. Noire is a startlingly polished game experience, ostensibly considered an open-world TPS along the lines of Red Dead Redemption or the perennial GTA series, only this time set in 1940’s Los Angeles. But players aren’t really free to run roughshod over a meticulously re-created LA, mowing down pedestrians and shooting shopkeepers in the face. Instead, there is just enough range for the player to avoid feeling like they’re on a Tunnel-Of-Love ride, but reigned in enough so that they can’t break the storyline that Rockstar has created.
And what a storyline. As Cole Phelps, a newly-minted beat cop who works his way up through the LAPD to detective, gamers delve into a fascinating story with many facets, twists and turns, all the while hewing to police procedure and proper investigative and interrogation tactics.
The whole thing comes off wonderfully well, including the vaunted MotionScan technology, which captures a complete likeness of the various actors’ faces as they read their lines. Put into practice in the game, the results are startling, and more than just eye candy; it allows players to read the faces of interviewees for tell-tale signs of fibbing.
Really, if you have any kind of interest in video games, you should sashay over to your nearest game store and pick this up. Rockstar and Team Bondi just raised the bar for video game excellence.