The Let's Play Archive

L.A. Noire

by Bobbin Threadbare

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Original Thread: Let's Play L.A. Noire: A Series of Film Reviews



In 2011, Rockstar Games published an ambitious little title called L.A. Noire. L.A. Noire was the baby of an Australian company named Team Bondi, and its main draw was a technology called MotionScan, which uses a 32-camera array similar to the ones used by The Matrix to create a detailed three-dimensional picture of an actor's face--you might say it's a sort of three-dimensional rotoscoping. Thanks to this technology, the game has by far the best facial detail of any title in the 360/PS3 generation, though it can still look awkward at times when it uses a transform effect to transition between frames, plus the face model tends to have more details than polygons.

Unfortunately (at least according to what little information has reached the public ear), Team Bondi was not exactly a well-oiled machine of a company, to the point where Rockstar had to interfere quite a bit in order for L.A. Noire to be any good and even to make sure the game would eventually hit store shelves instead of vanishing like some overreaching piece of vaporware. Regardless of the truth, Team Bondi would wind up self-destructing soon after L.A. Noire's release despite it being a critical and commerical success. Rockstar Games holds the rights to the franchise, so we could eventually see a sequel developed by a different team, but so far Rockstar hasn't been in any hurry.

As for the game itself, L.A. Noire is an episodic title which (mostly) follows a man named Cole Phelps as he first rises and then falls through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department during the years 1946-47. Players search crime scenes and houses for clues, chase cars and people, get into fistfights and gunfights, and most particularly interview suspects and witnesses (easily the game's centerpiece thanks to the whole MotionScan tech). It's an action-adventure game in the most literal sense, and depending on how well you interview people, how many clues you pick up, and how much damage you deal to the city in the process, you'll earn a rating of between 1-5 stars. You'll also earn experience and gain ranks over time, but since I've already maxed that out on my Rockstar Social Club profile we'll just be ignoring it.

Cole Phelps is an unusual protagonist in that he is what a cipher personality would be like in real life: ambitious, goal-driven, calculating, quite often difficult to work with, and enough of a bully that the Doubt and Lie choices don't sound strange coming out of his mouth even when the player picks incorrectly. The stick up Cole's ass is so huge that he's not the sort of person you can easily identify with, but I choose to take this as a commentary on video game protagonists. On top of that, Cole does grow and develop as the game progresses, so it's not a total loss.

Also, I'm going to be spotlighting a different classic film at the end of each episode. You don't need to offer me suggestions since my list is pretty much set at this point, but you're free to guess at what's coming up, offer viewing suggestions to other posters, and provide additional trivia for the films I've reviewed (and even those I haven't). In addition, this thread is a full spoilers allowed environment regarding both L.A. Noire and any film plotlines. You may discuss any and all future events without using spoiler tags, and I will explain the reason why I'm encouraging this in my first video.


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