Video Game Review: L.A. Noire

Video Game Review: L.A. Noire

Developed by Team Bondi and published by the stellar Rockstar Games, L.A. Noire represents what I feel is a huge break through in interactive content. While much of L.A. Noire is a game, it its very core, L.A. Noire represents what I hope is a step forward for the medium. L.A. Noire is probably best described as being an interactive movie, or television show. The game deals with mature themes, and for the first time, the entire performance of a an actor is captured through new motion capture technology, so ever tick, wink, and suspicious look is there for you to see.

Your name is Cole Phelps, a WWII vet who is starting his career off as a patrol-man in the LAPD. As the game progresses, you move your way up to traffic detective, homicide, vice, and eventually arson. All while being told a story relating to Phelps military service.

Games from Rockstar have always been break throughs, whether it be the open world of GTA III, the story of Vice City and San Andreas, the rendered detail in GTA IV, and taking those elements and putting them in the wild west in Red Dead Redemption. Here they take it one step further. Los Angeles is alive in this game, rife with pedestrians, signs, and familiar landmarks, from the ding on the traffic signal, to the music coming from the radio, it is absolutely immersive. Though the game is technically open, it pushes you along the story like no other game from the publisher. Honestly, I’ve never been a “completionist,” but I do terrible at open world games, I get so side tracked with the world, that I never end up continuing with the story. L.A. Noire moves things forward, but its nice to know those side missions are there for you.

L.A. Noire for some reason triggers memories of the point & click adventure games I used to be obsessed with as a kid. The classic Lucasart games like Indiana Jones, The Dig, and also Kings Quest & Hugo’s House of Horrors. The interaction of the environment is great, and the dialogue detailed.

The fighting mechanics are so-so in this game, but that is always a criticism of these guys. However, it wasn’t so bad in Red Dead. In this, the fighting isn’t the necessarily the focus, so its quickly forgotten because of the story.

If you’re looking for a unique, entertaining, and enthralling game, look no further than L.A. Noire.

If you’ve got both a PS3 and an Xbox, I’d recommend the PS3 version. The Xbox version comes on three discs.

PAX East 2011 Highlights

PAX East 2011 Highlights

PAX East 2011 came to a close this past sunday, three days of amazing gaming goodness. For those of you who don’t know, PAX is of course the Penny Arcade Expo, a convention that celebrates all avenues of gaming, from upcoming video games to D&D and card games. There are two, PAX Prime in Seattle, and now in its second year, PAX East in Boston.

This years show brought 70,000 participants, the expo floor was packed, with some waiting hours to play games like Duke Nukem Forever, and Star Wars the Old Republic.

LA Noire

The standout of the convention for me has to be L.A. Noire. The latest from Rockstar is going to be hitting stores this May, but they had a full 25 minute demo for us that really blew me away. The game essentially is a James Ellroy novel come to life. They’ve recreated Los Angeles circa 1948, and you’re a rookie detective making your way up in the ranks. The developers used actual motion capture on the actors in the game, giving you detail and emotion never before seen in a game.

Duke Nukem Forever

Considering I’ve been waiting the release of this game since the 1997 cover story, it was the first game I ran to at the opening of the convention. The demo was the same that was at PAX Prime, and honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed. I found the controls to be wonky, and the AI dated. However, the nostalgia factor certainly earns the game points, and I have to admit, I can’t physically NOT buy this game. I do however feel that the next title in the series (hopefully it won’t take another 15 years) will be more the sequel we deserve.

Nintendo 3DS

There is a lot of hype surrounding Nintendo’s latest handheld. While I do feel that the hardware is underpowered as is all of Nintendo’s platforms, I was definitely curious if it would make up for its stereoscopic 3D screen. I played Street Fighter IV, as well as Steel Diver, and I have to say, a few more really good titles, and I’m on board. The device feels great, the 3D is cool (and if it does give you a headache you can switch it off).

RAGE

The demo of RAGE was really impressive. Rage of course being the new game from iD software using their new iD Tech 5 engine. Talk about impressive graphics, the game was demoed on an xbox 360, and that had to be the best graphics I’ve seen on an Xbox 360.

Other standouts, SOCOM 4 I really enjoyed, Gears 3 felt like Gears with a little bit more color, and the indie games I played were really impressive. So those are my thoughts on PAX. Now I’ve got to go back to playing Pokemon.