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'LA Noire' is the latest offering from Rockstar Games. Famed perhaps moreso for titles where you play on the wrong side of the law, this game puts you in the shoes of Cole Phelps, an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1940s, as you try and rise through the ranks of the LAPD, solving a range of crimes along the way.
'LA Noire' is a unique experience. Utilising a host of new technologies, such as global illumination which provides more realistic lighting, and MotionScan, in which actors are recorded from 32 different angles in order to accurately recreate facial expressions in the game, 'LA Noire' is something of an evolutionary milestone in the gaming industry and a daring step forward from a studio that continues to try and push the boundaries. The clear intent to combine movie-style presentation with a gripping, challenging and enthralling game is there for all to see and the way in which the many stories, or cases, evolve is surprisingly well handled, allowing for various surprises along the way.
Gameplay is mostly linear, with each story segment involving a case. Cases involve both gathering evidence at the crime scene, interviewing witnesses and suspects and occasionally car chases and combat. The game assists with musical chimes and controller vibration at key moments whilst searching for evidence (if using a gamepad on the PC, such as the Xbox 360 controller) although these can be turned off in the settings if you really wish to make the game challenging.
Interviewing suspects is handled via a system of selecting areas of interest in Phelps' notebook and then selecting whether you believe the witness/suspect to be telling the truth, lying, or whether you have reason to doubt them but not enough evidence. This is a really interesting part of the game but is often where the most frustration may be experienced. The idea is to concentrate on what the person is telling you and to see for signs that they may be lying - such as skirting their eyes from side to side, or a quiver in their voice - and while this provides a highly cerebral element to the game it also falls short on occasions. In more than one instance, you will be utterly baffled by the leaps in logic that the game makes, wondering how you could possibly have drawn the correct conclusion given what you had available to you. But then, who said police work was easy?
On some of the longer cases, the lack of logic in some of the "correct" decisions to make will prove truly frustrating as you will find yourself talking to several witnesses and hopelessly stumbling through questioning. Fortunately, a case can still be solved even if you do make a horrible hash-job of the investigation, earning you little but a points penalty on your end of case report.
Combat is handled in a similar fashion to Rockstar's previous titles such as 'Grand Theft Auto' and 'Red Dead Redemption' in the form of an aim weapon button and a shoot button. Blind firing, taking cover, shooting around corners is all available and in 'LA Noire' you also have the ability to line up a warning shot. If a suspect flees, you can aim your weapon at them to fire a warning shot. This requires you to fill up a small circular bar which takes several seconds and therefore requires you to be in open space, as if the suspect moves out of your line of sight by ducking into an alleyway then you miss your chance and will have to resume the chase. Warning shots will cause some suspects to surrender but others to continue pursuit.
You can also respond to incoming emergency calls whilst already on a case. These provide various benefits later in the game but while the urge may be to respond to all calls as they come in, take into account what is going on in your case. For example, in one case, arriving at a destination within a specific timeframe will cause you to walk in on a crime in progress and make the case play out in a different manner than if you are late arriving. Responding to an incoming call during this case would alter the way the game plays out and although it won't harm your chances of completing the case, you may find the game becomes easier or harder, depending on the choice you make. As with everything about 'LA Noire' it pays to pay attention to what is being said and what is going on.
The recreation of 1940s Los Angeles is fantastic and fully in depth. In order to keep it fairly realistic there are no GPS options but you can set yourself a marker on the map and also ask your partner for directions, although if travelling at speed he'll likely tell you to turn too late. Because of the sheer scale of the city, it is mostly possible to ask your partner to drive between locations, which will skip to the destination after any in-game conversation has taken place while driving. Those who enjoy the worlds created in Rockstar games though will almost certainly want to spend some time getting acquainted with the city and the cars because driving is not particularly smooth due to the type of cars you will be driving.
Pedestrians around the city exist and some of them are braindead morons who will happily walk out in front of your car whether the sirens are blaring or not. Others seem to have odd survival skills that will cause them to leap away at the first hint of danger. This is some really bizarre AI. Hitting pedestrians in your car will cause you to lose points in your case report so it is ill-advised, although you can usually get away with the first one and receive an in-game warning in the form of a help notice.
The 'Complete Edition' on PC contains all the DLC available for console versions and therefore really is the Complete Edition. There is also keyboard mapping for those who will be using keyboards and gamepad support for those who prefer to use a controller. Graphics are improved over the console version of the game and Stereoscoping 3D support has been added. Those who have both a console and a PC and don't know which version to pick up would likely be best served picking up the PC version if only for the improved graphics.