L.A. Noire

“There is no redemption except in death”

L.A. Noire is a neo-noir, action-adventure detective game initially released on 17th may, 2011.
Developed by the Australian development studio Team Bondi and Rockstar Games the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series and Red Dead Redemption.
If those names alone don’t mean much and you aren’t convinced then let me try and change your mind.

Los Angeles

“A city on the verge of greatness, the city of opportunists, a city of pioneers, a city of dreams and dreamers, a city of undercurrents” are just a few ways the narrator describes the city of Los Angeles circa.1947 as smooth jazz plays in the background. The camera pans across the city’s various neighborhoods giving you a glimpse in to the lives of its people just before you are introduced to your first case in classic “Noir” film fashion. The screen fades out from black and white in to color as the name of the case is displayed diagonally across the screen. It is evident from these very first minutes of the game that the cinematic flow, the writing and music is simply one of the best of the previous generation of games. L.A. Noire is heavily influenced by the films L.A. confidential, Chinatown and naked city among many others. “Noire” is the feminine form of the french word “Noir” meaning black.

Cole Phelps

You play as Cole Phelps a war hero who has returned to Los Angeles and climbs the ranks of the LAPD solving one case after another. Each case is paced like an episode out of a television crime drama and it feels like it too as you watch it play out.The game could also be played in Black and white mode for a true classic feel. Over the course of an investigation you will first arrive at the crime scene, investigate the crime scene, gather clues and interrogate suspects and people related to the case. Apart from these core elements some cases will have you chasing down suspects on foot and in vehicles, engage in shootouts and the occasional puzzle all the while noting it down in your trusty handbook which helps you keep track of every piece of information you gather and helps you make an informed decision while interrogating suspects. The more you explore the more information you have leading to new leads and new revelations. Here the game rewards the player not by forcing him to explore the map but to organically nudge him towards various branches of the ongoing case, feeding his/her curiosity every single moment.

You Liar !

The star of the game is the interrogation system that tests the players ability to judge characters based on their facial expressions something that was made possible by the new (new for the time) impeccably detailed facial motion capture technology developed by Team Bondi. This is where excellent technology coupled with incredible acting creates one of the most captivating narrative experiences.

This bold attempt by the creators of L.A. Noire also resulted in a revolution in video-games both in technological and narrative terms and also raising the level of engagement for games that followed like Beyond : Two Souls and The Last of Us.

The 26 story cases (incl. DLC) make up for a complete, satisfying and rewarding experience that lets you experience the after effects of the horrors of war on the human mind, witness the seedy side of the movie industry and go head to head with gambling racketeers, mobsters and powerful businessmen as you climb the ranks of LAPD with new friends and old enemies.

Despite of its noticeably repetitive gameplay and an open-world that might feel a bit linear in 2017, L.A. Noire sets itself apart as there has never been such a solid, unique and captivating attempt at crime detective genre in video-games till date. Whether you are a fan of Rockstar Games or noir cinema or detective dramas L.A. Noire is a must play for every gamer and deserves a place in your permanent library.

L.A. Noire is available on PS3 and XBOX 360. If you do not own the previous generation of consoles L.A.Noire : The Complete Edition (incl all DLC’s) is available for PC on Steam as well.

Published by Samartha Ingle

Game designer and writer

2 thoughts on “L.A. Noire

  1. Loved this game (the score was fantastic, and I still listen to it), such a pity it didn’t sell well enough for a sequel. There was such a sense of time and place, I used to just drive around with the radio playing ( T Bone Walker, brilliant). I have a sense of a path not followed in gaming, what this should have led to. Thanks for this review, think I might get out my 360 and go for another drive.


    1. I Know right but even though the game did not sell well the developers are still in a pretty good condition. I recently did come upon a rumour that they were discussing a remaster for current gen.


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