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L.A. Noire Box Art

When you think of open world games developed by Rockstar Games, you tend to play a main protagonist, that strays on the wrong side of the law, more often than not. You could be forgiven for mistaking that to be the case here, but it’s not. No, instead the game co-developed by Australian based studio Team Bondi diverges from the norm. Oh, there’s still the criminal aspect involved but you’ll be fighting it, not assisting. L.A. Noire as the name might suggest takes part in world famous Los Angelos, but back in the 1940’s when arguably Hollywood was at it’s glitziest but crime and police corruption were also at an all time high.

Working Your Way Up

In L.A Noire, you’ll be stepping into the shoes of Cole Phelps, an American soldier returning from World War 2. Looking to atone for his sins committed during the war, Phelps joins the police force looking to make a difference. The L.A.P.D is mired with controversy and suspected of corruption, but certain individuals want to bring a bit of respectability back to the police force. And in Phelps, they have a respectable war hero that can be their poster boy. You’ll also find your character getting pushed up through the ranks rather quickly – You can expect that some of your fellow police officers might not be all too happy about it either.

Cole Phelps Patrol Officer

Sir, that's a nice gun you have there.

At first, you’ll start out as a beat cop, move on to traffic detective, homicide, vice and finally arson detective. Each desk reportedly has about 5 to 6 cases, each lasting between 30 and 45 minutes, so you’re looking at about 15 – 20 hours worth of gameplay going through the story. At each rank, you don’t just get new cases to solve, you also get new partners that will assist you in solving crimes and fights. Yup, you can expect a fast paced action scene here and there, between the interviews and clue hunting.

It’s not quite so open

In comparison to the Grand Theft Auto games, L.A. Noire is expected to be more linear despite being an open world game. We’re led to believe at this point that you’ll move between the different ‘desks’ mentioned earlier in that exact order and solve each of the cases in the same order. There’s also going to be less side quests as well. Things like finding and shooting 99 red balloons in Vice City for example, those types of quests aren’t expected to be in the game. Despite it’s more linear approach, the methods in which you solve the individual cases can be different between replays, finding new clues, interrogating witnesses differently etc. You can also be out driving, enjoying the sights of 1940’s Los Angelos when a crime is reported over dispatch, which you can then choose to answer.

L.A. Noire Screenshot driving in car

They see me rolling, they hating..

Your face looks so real

Perhaps the biggest talking point about L.A Noire to date, and one that has me personally excited for the game, is how life like the characters look. Team Bondi have gone to great lengths to turn facial animations, realistic ones at that, into actual gameplay. When you ask people questions, they’ll react in certain ways. Sometimes it might be obvious that they’re lying, since they might not look you in the eye after their response. Other times, you might notice a subtle tic that tips you off. You’ll have to read their voices and expressions to find out where they stand. Are they trying to hide something? Or are they just deeply saddened by the news of the murder?

L.A. Noire camera screenshot

Smile for the camera

Spare us no details

Rockstar won’t be sparing you the gory details when you go about your investigations either. Especially in Homicide, not only will get to see the bodies, but you’ll get to seem them up close and in detail. And if you’re squeamish, you’ll also have to slowly and meticulously inspect the body to determine the cause of death and find any clues that might help catch the killer. As you can imagine, clues are going to be a big part of this game and they’re aren’t just going to be found at the crime scene you initially visit. I’m hoping that some of the more obvious clues in the game might turn out to be red herrings, leaving the player and one Cole Phelps, a little red faced when they haul someone in they shouldn’t have.

L.A. Noire Victim up close

Team Bondi and Rockstar not sparing us the gory details

As I mentioned earlier, L.A. Noire isn’t going to be all clue hunting and interrogations, it’ll have it’s fair share of action in the game. From fist fights and gun fights, to foot or car chases, there’ll be moments that get your heart pumping. Some of the cases you’ll be working, were actually pulled from old L.A. newspapers by Team Bondi, though with the names of people involved having been changed, naturally. Rumour is that one or two were actually unsolved crimes, so, will you be the one to crack the case?

L.A. Noire hits game stores on May 17th in North America, May 20th everywhere else.

For the month of April, our site wide poll is L.A. Noire themed, so why not cast your vote?

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