Thursday 11 July 2013

My PS3 Highlights #2: L.A. Noire

With the fourth incarnation of the PlayStation due to hit stores this holiday season, I thought it was a good time to reflect upon some of my own most cherished and memorable gaming experiences with the PlayStation 3. 

Each entry into this brand new column will give you my thoughts on some of my favourite PS3 games and the enjoyable and grabbing gaming experiences they have brought me. 

After Part #1 focused on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Part #2 is all about one of the most original titles to hit PS3, L.A. Noire

"Hmm, I have a hunch that this gentleman might be dead"
A combination of cover shooter mixed with adventure, LA Noire is a game completely different to anything else I've ever played. Whilst it was hit and miss at times, it did something new, original and different which is always important.

The way in which L.A. Noire immersed the player into the period setting of 1940's Los Angeles and placed them into the shoes of goody-two shoes war veteran Cole Phelps was, in my mind, done really well. Right from the off, the player is made to interact with the environment and search for clues, piecing them all together and thinking like a detective would.

I'll own up at this point and admit this; in real life, I'd make one helluva crap detective. My philosophy of 'guilty until proven innocent' and constantly playing the 'bad cop' role made the game substantially harder. The number of times I accused an innocent person of first-degree murder doesn't bear thinking about.

The game mechanics revolved around using your detective's notebook to join the dots and discern which suspect was lying, bluffing or telling the truth. It was at this point that the stunning motion capture comes in. Every character in the game has realistic facial expressions that are surpassed by nothing before or since. I'm not talking about in cut-scenes either, I mean in actual game-play. If anything, the realism is kind of disconcerting - you can see every wrinkle and crease on a person's face when they blatantly lie about being at the murder scene.

Whilst it may not be the best Rockstar game to feature in this column , L.A. Noire is a brilliant homage to the gangster/detective/film noir genre. The way in which Rockstar has stayed true to the genre and includes everything from the quintessential femme fatale to classic storyline troupes makes for a truly unforgettable gaming experience.

From Roy Earle, the bent detective who has connections with the underworld to Herschel Biggs, the grumpy and tired senior officer, L.A. Noire is a homage to classic Hollywood cinema and the characters we all recognise. Personally, I really liked Roy Earle; he might have been a complete scumbag who only looks out for himself, but he was a likeable one.

Phelps and Bekowsky arrive at the station
Whilst it wasn't perfect (like any Rockstar game, it does drag in the middle third and the cases can get slightly repetitive), what L.A. Noire does brilliantly is make the player feel like they are figuring the mystery out for themselves.

After playing through L.A. Noire and coming across clues in every nook and cranny of the game world, real-life is disappointingly dull and devoid of conspiracy.

If you haven't gotten the chance to experience L.A. Noire for yourself, I suggest you get on it. The memorable narrative (which periodically rewinds back to World War II and recounts Phelps' past in the Marines) and entertaining characters make this a defining title to have been released on Playstation 3. It might make you want to tear you hair out with frustration at times (some cases require you to make choices on who to convict and the ethical decisions you make are tough) but L.A. Noire is the kind of game that rewards player for thinking things through before they jump.

What are your thoughts on L.A. Noire? What are some of your most memorable PS3 experiences? Leave me a comment below! Next up in PS3 Highlights: Batman: Arkham City.

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