L.A. Noire: A Movie-Like Game About Movies

Posted on by Brian Allen (AllenScribe)
URL for sharing: http://thisorth.at/5rpt
Rockstar Games' latest sure-to-be blockbuster, L.A. Noire, released this week on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to the customary fanfare. It steps to the forefront of two gaming debates: one that's been brewing for years and another that's fairly new. And for a change, the big discussion regarding the game isn't about violence. (Well, it probably is at Fox News, but their video game coverage has me convinced most of their staff is still playing Pitfall on the Atari 2600.)

Roger Ebert caught the ire of gamers the world round when he stated that games are not and could never be considered art. The National Endowment for the Arts respectfully disagrees. Noire is definitely a game with the potential to knock down stereotypes, especially since it is the first game to be included in the Tribeca Film Festival. It certainly doesn't hurt that Noire is a digital love letter to the film industry.

The game is well-written, superbly acted, and gorgeous to look at. When we discuss the search for the "Citizen Kane" of games, this one will undoubtedly be in the running. Just as with a movie, hundreds of creative people have to work together to create the perfect game environment. Noire strives for a realistic vision of post-World War II Los Angeles, but takes dramatic license to tell its story. Real life cases such as the Black Dahlia are referenced, but most are fairly original, each a unique little mystery that requires perception and perseverance to crack.

Among the "hardcore" gamer demographic, complaints are already surfacing accusing L.A. Noire of being more "movie" than game. Especially for a release from Rockstar Games, "The House That Grand Theft Auto Built," this title is more about reaction than action. In many ways, it's a game about watching people. The game's most revolutionary feature is the technology that allows nearly perfect recreation of an actor's face. You spend a great deal of time interviewing witnesses and suspects, looking for that facial tic or lack of eye contact. Crime scenes must be meticulously searched for clues that will break the case.

Truthfully, the story will advance even if you Inspector Clouseau your way through some of these cases. I'm into the second disc and I messed up one crime scene so bad, I felt like an actual L.A. detective working the O.J. Simpson case. If you want a break from the main storyline, Rockstar mixes the more in-depth cases with a set of street crimes that give you an excuse to go Clint Eastwood on petty criminals.

Sure, you can advance even if you don't play things perfectly, but a great game offers you chances to play smarter as well as playing harder. Part of the challenge in Noire is replaying the cases to get a better score and crack them earlier. I get plenty ticked off when I pay $60 for a game and it's over in five hours, with two and a half of those hours being long-winded cutscenes. L.A. Noire is not that game. It's a new animal in the world of video games in that you're effectively playing the game while you're watching it. Every quote could be a clue, and the slightest facial movement could send somebody on the path to the gas chamber.

If the developer that gave us Grand Theft Auto can take its finger off the trigger and get cerebral, gamers owe Rockstar a chance to try it. Perhaps the answer is that it's art if it moves you, and it's a game if you enjoy playing it.

Will you play L.A. Noire?

1612 views & 13 votes

Debate It! 1

nope. it's not as good as the other similar games.

Posted By dylancayleb,

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