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Notebooks and Lip Sync: Why L.A. Noire Will Rock Your World

Result.

Playing Team Bondi’s L.A. Noire fresh from a surprisingly successful media blackout presents an interesting set of delights. For one, the facial animation and lip syncing is staggeringly good – I’d seen the odd video as we posted them but hadn’t really analysed the details, and to see multiple characters all talking and acting at the level they are shows just how far technology has come, even from the likes of the relatively staid, in comparison at least, Heavy Rain.

It really is impressive – not just on the main characters but on everyone, from sideline extras to supporting roles – every word, every expression, every nuance is captured perfectly, and it instantly grabs your attention.  Married with the well delivered lines and superb vocal work, L.A. Noire’s performances are sublime, making the game seem not only more real, but more engaging, more believable.  Money well spent, then.


The acting is superb, with plenty of current TV and movie talent making up the credits list.
Secondly, I had no idea the game was so structured and defined.  I knew it wasn’t strictly a free roaming title in the same vein as Grand Theft Auto (thankfully) but although there are sections where you’re free to take the plot at your own pace and explore a little, you’re really only doing this to gather evidence, and straying too far from the path won’t move the game along.  Instead, you’re given missions that are built and played linearly, at least in terms of overal construction.

This works brilliantly, in case you’re wondering.  The first few are short and serial in nature, but a promotion an hour or so into the game presents a fresh angle or two and things start to pan out to provide a little flexibility – of course, by this stage the game is holding your hand a lot less, the excellently done tutorial sections at the beginning never getting in the way or feeling contrived but to be free of their shackles is indeed welcome.  By the time you’ve learnt how to pursue a fleeing suspect, look for clues, aim and shoot your weapon and even conduct interviews and interrogations you’ll be happy enough to fill your own detective shoes.

The interrogation aspect is one that I found most intruiging.  Dialog trees aren’t new to gaming, but here they’re crucial, your skill in establishing whether a suspect (or witness) is lying or telling the truth (or indeed, you have doubts) from their language and mannerisms as important as ensuring that you’ve already found all the evidence you need to successfully carry out the particular conversation.  If you can’t, or don’t, the meeting can go astray, and you’ll need to restart.


Hand to hand combat is the only personal downer, but it's something that doesn't spoil the party at all.
Conducted mostly from your notebook, these sections stand out as being a real talking point, and even though a couple of times the game didn’t make it entirely clear why I’d failed at a particular question or I’d missed a vital bit of the puzzle, the game always manages to find a way around so that backtracking is all but removed and the plot can continue smoothly enough.  It’s a clever concept, and it means that sticking points shouldn’t remain so for long.

Each element of the game, from the slow exploration of a crime scene to frantic shoot-outs or car chases, manages to feel both coherent yet distinct enough to always feel fresh, the only demerit saved for the slightly clunky hand to hand combat that – thankfully – doesn’t really outstay its welcome.  The constant changes of pace, interspersed with the smart dialog and logically placed cut-scenes, relays a filmic quality that most games simply fail to manage – if nothing else, Rockstar’s latest is their most cinematic.

But I’m impressed with the whole package.  L.A. Noire feels like the sort of game I could really get my teeth into, the storyline already starting to show some interesting qualities as flashbacks hint at troubles sure to raise their heads later on, and it appears 1940s Los Angeles was an exciting place to be.   The game controls well, looks absolutely gorgeous, is dripping with atmosphere and could well be the best thing you’ve played for months.

Our review is on the way, the game’s out on Friday.

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32 Comments
  1. obiadekanobi1980
    Member
    Since: May 2011

    cannot wait to sink my teeth into this it lokks amazing and after hearing this it sounds amazing!!! day 1 but me thinks well done rockstar for bringing us this gem

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 09:07.
  2. DrNate86
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    Gah this game looks amazing but I have so many going at the moment and so little money. It is going to be a real struggle not to buy it!

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 09:32.
    • shields_t
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      Same here, I’m hooked on Mass Effect 2, finished it and jumped straight back in to play it through on Insanity difficulty. I’ll wait till it drops in price a little, though Rockstar games tend to hold their value pretty well.

      Comment posted on 19/05/2011 at 10:27.
  3. theberzerka
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I can’t wait to pick up my pre-order on Friday. I’ve managed to wangle a babysitter for the weekend and the other half can’t wait to watch. Now all I need is a few kopperbergs and I’ll be a very happy detective.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 09:33.
    • moshi
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      My other half is interested in playing the game to, so even if it does arrive early I shall have to wait for a suitable time to play it together.Which may be a little frustrating to me .
      High 5 for Kopperberg too

      Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 10:54.
      • djdustb
        Member
        Since: Nov 2008

        The problem we have in our house is that both me and my Girlfriend want to play this. So we have to leave the room when the other is first playing through so not to ruin it for the other. Taking turns to work through the game does make this a long process.

        Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 11:10.
      • theberzerka
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        Mine only likes to watch, which is fine by me (she’s absolute shite at games and is a bit of a technophobe).

        Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 19:38.
    • Hoopiness
      Member
      Since: Sep 2009

      You and your other half ditching a little one to play/watch this blows my mind on numerous fronts.

      For my dip into the game, I’ll need to wait until the little one is asleep, and even then my other half will do nothing but roll her eyes…

      ;)

      Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 15:27.
      • lokiy2j
        Member
        Since: Sep 2010

        agreed, although I am super hyped for this game, my little girl is five and my wife wants to play it too, so I will be waiting until they are both in bed on friday night to play this gem! and next weekend when the wife’s away my little one will be thoroughly entertained with whatever new toy I buy her and I can play this all saturday mwhahahahahahahaaaaaaa.

        Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 18:17.
      • theberzerka
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        Wouldn’t say witching

        Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 19:21.
      • theberzerka
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        That was meant to say; Wouldn’t call it ditching, grandma asked if she could have him for the weekend. It just happens to be lucky that it falls on the weekend that I would like to drink and play. I’m not one of those parents who grabs any chance to off-load their kids. Sorry if my reply is a bit mardy, but I dislike that type of parent.

        Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 19:32.
  4. Huddy
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    I was really hyped for this game until I started to read comments from owners published stateside. It seems to be a good game with a few issues which results in it becoming quickly repetitive.

    The motion capture tech on show will no doubt help it sell by the bucket load, but I am not sold on the actual gameplay, it seems to share the annoyances of GTA and RDR in clunky controls and soulless shooting mechanics.

    I’ll no doubt pix this up at some point, possibly a rent or bargain bin purchase.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 09:37.
  5. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Great read nofi, cannot wait to pick this up today ^^
    Should have taken days off work lol.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 10:09.
    • skibadee
      Member
      Since: Oct 2009

      mine has been sent get a free T-Shirt as well.

      Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 13:46.
  6. cam the man
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Not really my type of game so was undecided whether to give it a go. I’ve read some good reviews etc. about it and after reading above I’m tempted, but with the games I’ve got to finish and Dirt 3 out next week I don’t think I’ll have the time to play through it.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 10:24.
  7. djdustb
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    Looking forward to picking this up on Friday morning.

    I had concerns about how much conrtol you would actually have in the game and feared it would be almost Heavy Rain (which was good, I just wanted a game where I could do more). These fears seem to have been put to one side for now.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 10:26.
  8. ProjectJAY
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    This game has got me so excited, should be arriving in the post on Friday…but then I can’t play it for a week because my 360′s at home :( Foiled again!

    I hope no-one manages to spoil the story for me in that time, unlike Heavy Rain…

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 10:45.
  9. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I have a few concerns about the overall package but i think this is one game that will have to be experienced.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 10:52.
  10. BIGAL-1992
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    REALLY looking forward to it. But one thing everyone; Rockstar only publish the game, all the work was done by Team Bondi.

    Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 11:05.
    • skibadee
      Member
      Since: Oct 2009

      no they have done things as well.

      Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 13:46.
    • lokiy2j
      Member
      Since: Sep 2010

      I posted something on the forum about this, and from my further investigations it seems that team bondi AND Rockstar developed this, not sure who did what tho.

      Comment posted on 18/05/2011 at 18:20.

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