Games

‘L.A. Noire’ takes GTA in new direction

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Play: ‘L.A. Noire’ review

By Mark Taliaferro

“L.A. Noire” is the new open-world diversion from Rockstar Games, the developer behind the wildly popular “Grand Theft Auto” series. In short, this is a fantastic game, but it’s no GTA.

While “Noire” looks like a GTA game and sometimes feels like a GTA game, it’s far more linear and far more scripted. You can still take any car you want and drive like a madman across an enormous city, but the character of the game just doesn’t equal GTA 4.

One of the primary reasons for the different feel is that you play a cop rather than a criminal. One thing the game does a great job of is creating a living, playable detective movie. The theme is well implemented, and the story is fantastic. If you see the game’s title and instantly think of all the classic noire films you love, then you will almost certainly enjoy this game.

Conversely, if you love the GTA series primarily because you love stealing cars and committing random acts of violence and chaos, this game could bore you a bit. The focus here is on searching crime scenes for clues, then using those clues to interrogate suspects. If you interpret the meaning of the clues properly, your interrogations will be more successful and you will get the bad guys locked up sooner.

The big technical feature that Rockstar is touting is the new facial-gesture technology. It may sound like a minor improvement, but it’s not. Graphically, the game feels more alive than any game before it. The facial gestures are only relevant during cut scenes, but in a game this focused on story, that’s OK. The cut scenes are plentiful, and every one feels meaningful.
The game is available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Xbox version suffers from a bit of graphical slowdown, but it occurs during cut scenes and does not affect gameplay. The PS3 version is the better version graphically, but only because of those minor flaws on the Xbox.

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