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L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire cover 2
Developer Team Bondi
Publisher Rockstar Games
Release date(s) PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
NA May 17, 2011
EU/AU May 20, 2011
JP July 7, 2011
Microsoft Windows
NA November 8, 2011
EU/AU November 11, 2011
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One
EU/AU November 14, 2017

HTC VIVE
EU/AU December 15, 2017

Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
HTC Vive
Engine(s) Custom
Havok (physics engine)
Protagonist Cole Phelps
Jack Kelso
Mode(s) Single player, Sandbox
Genre(s) Mystery
Media 3 DVD-DLs, Blu-ray Disc, Download
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature 17+
PEGI: 18+
BBFC: 18
ACB: MA 15+
Review(s) GameRankings

(PS3) 88.12%
(X360) 87.76%
(PC) 81.70%
Metacritic
(PS3) 89/100
(X360) 89/100
(PC) 83/100

LA Noire is a third-person neo-noir crime video game developed by Team Bondi in conjunction with Rockstar North and Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 May 17, 2011, in North America and May 20, 2011, in Europe and Australia.

Setting

LA Noire is set in a nearly perfectly recreated 8 square miles of Los Angeles of 1947, with players being given an open-ended challenge to solve a series of crime and murder mysteries.

As the title suggests, the game draws heavily from both plot and aesthetic elements of film noir - stylistic films from the 1940s and 1950s that shared similar visual styles and themes including crime, sex, and moral ambiguity and were often shot in black and white with harsh, low-key lighting. The game uses a distinctive coloring-style as well as the choice of black-and-white in the homage to the visual style of film noir. The post-war setting is the backdrop for plot elements that reference the detective films of the '40s, such as corruption and drugs, with a classical jazz soundtrack.

Gameplay

LA Noire's gameplay is similar to that of a crime game and an action game. You play as Cole Phelps, a police officer returning from World War II, solving cases by looking for clues and interrogating suspects. By solving crimes Phelps ranks up among the police ranks from a normal officer all the way up to a Vice detective. The game allows players to play at their own pace, allowing them to simply cruise around the 1940s Los Angeles. LA Noire also blends in an action component, allowing players to get into gun fights and car chases. Player's health isn't displayed on the HUD, instead of when Phelps takes damage, the screen fades into a black and white tone. Avoiding damage reheals Phelps.

Plot


Following the end of World War II, Cole Phelps (Aaron Staton), a decorated USMC veteran of the Pacific Campaign, returns to Los Angeles, California to live with his family while taking on work as a Patrol Officer of the LAPD. In 1947, working with his partner Officer Ralph Dunn (Rodney Scott), Phelps successfully solves a major murder case and impresses his superiors, who promote him to detective. Working alongside Stefan Bekowsky (Sean McGowan) in Traffic, and then Finbarr "Rusty" Galloway (Michael McGrady) in Homicide, Phelps earns a reputation for solving difficult cases that eventually land him a promotion into Vice. During this time, he begins falling for German lounge singer Elsa Lichtmann (Erika Heynatz) and soon has an affair with her. Unknown to him, Roy Earle (Adam J. Harrington), his partner in Vice and a corrupt cop, uses this information to help several prominent figures in the city, including the Chief of Police, cover up a major scandal by making him a media scapegoat, in exchange for a place in a syndicate known as the "Suburban Redevelopment Fund" (SRF)—a development program that supplies homes for homecoming WWII veterans. When his adultery is exposed, Phelps becomes disgraced in the LAPD, while his wife ends their marriage. Prior to his demotion to Arson, Phelps had found that several Marines of his former unit had been selling morphine syrettes stolen from the ship that had taken them home, the SS Coolridge, which had later led to most being assassinated by mobsters working for Mickey Cohen (Patrick Fischler), who controlled the drug trade and had resented the competition; most of the stolen drugs remains unaccounted for by the time he is demoted. While investigating a pair of suspicious house fires with his partner in Arson, Herschel Biggs (Keith Szarabajka), Phelps notes a connection between them and a recent housing development, known as "Elysian Fields", but is warned by Earle to back off from tycoon developer Leland Monroe (John Noble). Seeking help to investigate the development, Phelps advises Elsa to refuse a life insurance payout in order to prompt his old comrade Jack Kelso (Gil McKinney), now an investigator for the California Fire & Life insurance company, to look into the matter. Kelso quickly discovers that the development is using unsuitable building materials and becomes an investigator for the Assistant D.A. whereupon he soon learns that Monroe and his former employer, the owner of Fire & Life, are involved in the SRF syndicate.

Kelso and Phelps eventually learn from their investigations that the Fund is merely a front to conceal its true purpose: to defraud the US Federal Government. Run by several local businessmen, dignitaries, as well as Monroe and the Chief of Police, the syndicate had learned about the proposed route for the Whitnall Parkway through the Wilshire district of the city and thus bought the land it would run through. Monroe then built communities of "matchstick" houses, while Fire & Life falsely claimed the land was a higher value, knowing that the government would pay whatever the land was worth in order to gain eminent domain over it. Further investigations reveal that Courtney Sheldon (Chad Todhunter), a headstrong corpsman of Phelps and Kelso's former unit, had been involved in the theft of the morphine. The remainder of the morphine had been given to Sheldon's mentor and pop-psychiatrist Harlan Fontaine (Peter Blomquist), who sold it on to finance the Fund and murdered Sheldon after he began questioning the syndicate's plans. Following a shoot-out at Monroe's mansion, Kelso discovers that the SRF had used Ira Hogeboom (J. Marvin Campbell), a former flamethrower operator from Phelps' and Kelso's unit, to help them with their plans. Hogeboom, suffering from PTSD and schizophrenia after inadvertently killing a large number of civilians on Phelps' orders during the Battle of Okinawa, had been unknowingly manipulated by Fontaine to torch the houses of holdouts who refused to sell out to the SRF, until eventually going insane after he inadvertently incinerates a house with an entire family inside.

After learning that Hogeboom had murdered Fontaine and kidnapped Elsa, Phelps and Kelso pursue him into the Los Angeles River Tunnels as a heavy rain begins, fighting their way through corrupt policemen and thugs. The pair rescue Elsa, with Kelso killing Hogeboom to put him out of his mental anguish. With the water level rising, the group uses an open manhole to escape, but Phelps has swept away in the current and killed. Whilst the SRF scam is exposed, several members escape justice by making a deal with the Assistant D.A. to testify. They attend Phelps's funeral, each delivering eulogies to his memory, much to the disgust of Elsa. Biggs remarks to Kelso that Phelps was never his friend, to which Kelso agrees but responds that he was never Phelps' enemy.

An epilogue flashback scene soon reveals that Kelso had known about the stolen morphine and Sheldon's involvement after they and their other fellow Marines found the surplus supply on their ship home. However, Kelso refused to be involved in Sheldon's scheme to sell the drugs along with the other Marines, telling them all that they will lose his respect for them as Marines if they go through with the drug profiting, setting in motion the events of the game.

Themes

Like Rockstar Games' crime epics Grand Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption has many deep and violent themes. These are the two themes of L.A. Noire:

The first is that there is no redemption in this kind of story except in death. The second one is atonement and the lack of forgiveness for those who have gone astray. This means that it won't matter what lengths Cole goes to make up for his past mistakes, he can never escape from them.

Development

L.A. Noire was originally a PlayStation 3 exclusive title. Brendan McNamara who previously worked for Team Soho departed from his original company which developed the largely successful crime game The Getaway. Team Bondi and Sony Entertainment Studios had a falling out and Rockstar Games, developer of the hugely successful Grand Theft Auto series and Midnight Club series announced that L.A. Noire will be developed for the home consoles, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, despite originally being a PS3 exclusive.

L.A. Noire was originally meant to be released during 2007 but was delayed, then announced to be released in 2008 and 2009 and delayed again. Information about L.A. Noire was minimal until GameInformer chose L.A. Noire to be its front cover game in March 2010. Team Bondi released a trailer for L.A. Noire since there hasn't been any video footage of the game since a trailer released not long after the games original announcement showing actual in-game footage. Team Bondi released a new trailer for the game about the Red Lipstick murder and a few weeks later, another trailer about The Naked City pre-order exclusive was shown and the technology behind MotionScan, the technology used to capture the facial movements of the game.

Team Bondi has also released 2 Gameplay series trailers since then, the first look at actual gameplay. Gameplay series Orientation shows basic gameplay mechanics such as fighting, interviewing and searching for clues. Gameplay series Interrogation and Investigation was based on two of some of the most important gameplay mechanics in the game, investigation, and interrogation.

L.A. Noire was released on the 17th May for North America and the 20th of May for the rest of the world.

The Xbox 360 version of L.A. Noire consists of 3 discs; the PS3 version comes with a single Blu-ray disc.

Technology

L.A. Noire became famous due to the technology used for the game's development, a technology called MotionScan. MotionScan is a new performance capture technology and an alternative to traditional motion capture. It utilizes 32 high-definition cameras that completely surround the actor and capture the performance in 3D at 30 frames-per-second. MotionScan is a technology provided by Depth Analysis, a sister company to Team Bondi and part of a special partnership with Rockstar Games. Every character in L.A. Noire uses MotionScan technology and over 400 actors were filmed making the game. This new technology helped the game to be recognized around the world, and thanks to it, L.A. Noire is one of the most promising games of 2011.

Reception

L.A. Noire has received critical acclaim, with critics praising the game for its story and facial animation technology. The game holds a score of 89 out of 100 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and 83 for the PC Metacritic, which is considered "Generally favorable" on the website. GameRankings rated the PlayStation 3 version 88.12% the Xbox 360 version 87.76% and the PC version 81.70%.

The UK newspaper The Guardian gave the game a perfect score of five stars, stating "Ever since it first worked out how to assemble pixels so that they resembled something more recognizable than aliens, the games industry has dreamed of creating one thing above all else – a game that is indistinguishable from a film, except that you can control the lead character. With L.A. Noire, it just might, finally, have found the embodiment of that particular holy grail." X-Play, GamePro, and Giant Bomb gave the game a perfect score of five stars too, praising it for its story, graphics, and feeling.

Famitsu gave the game a near-perfect score of 39/40, with a 10, 10, 10, and 9, placing it as one of the highest rated games in Japan. IGN gave the game 8.5 out of 10, stating that the game "may not reach the emotional heights of a game like Heavy Rain, but it's something everyone must try out. It reaches high and almost succeeds as a brilliant new type of video game narrative." GameTrailers gave the game a 9.1 out of 10, concluding that it "floors you out of the gate, loses some steam due to repetition, but eventually wins the day thanks to its subtlety, attention to detail, and stunning character interaction." GameZone gave the game an 8.5/10, stating that "The story is intriguing, albeit a little slow at first. L.A. Noire takes an old-school approach toward its storytelling. It’s a much slower approach, similar to older movies, with a heavy emphasis on detail. It is that attention to detail that sets L.A. Noire apart from other games and makes it enjoyable to play."

Eurogamer and Edge both gave the game 8/10, with Edge praising the facial technology, and pointed out that while there are no other major aspects of the game that had not been done better elsewhere, the fact that Team Bondi had brought together such a wide range of game genres in such a stylish, atmospheric, and cohesive manner was an achievement that few developers had managed.The Official Xbox Magazine gave the game an 8/10 too. 1UP gave it a perfect score, but the website also warned that the extended cut-scenes in the game could make some players feel they lost control of the action.

Despite having very positive reviews, many reviewers said that the game has too many cutscenes which are very long, leaving a small amount of free movement for the player.

Awards

  • GameTrailers - Best New IP of 2011
  • VGChartz - Best IP of 2011
  • GameSpot - Best Atmosphere of 2011
  • Eurogamer - 11th Best Game of the Year

Sales

L.A. Noire was the best selling game of May 2011, selling more than 899,000 copies for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game became the best selling new IP ever in the UK, and stayed on the top of the charts for over three weeks. In Japan, the game sold more than 71,000 copies for both consoles.

As of early 2012, L.A. Noire sold more than 5 million copies.

The Complete Edition

In July 2011, Rockstar Games announced a PC version of L.A. Noire, dubbed "The Complete Edition", which contained all of the previous DLC from the game, including the Nicholson Electroplating Arson case, Reefer Madness Vice case, The Consul's Car Traffic case, The Naked City Vice case, A Slip of the Tongue Traffic case, The Badge Pursuit Challenge, and all weapons and outfits released to date.

The game was released on 8 November in North America, and 11 November internationally. On 20 October 2011, Rockstar announced that the same edition would be available for the PS3 and Xbox 360 a week after the PC release, on 15 November in North America, and 18 November internationally.

The Remastered Edition

On September 7, 2017 Rockstar Games announced a new version of the complete game, remastered for 4K resolution for Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and a 7-case special VR version exclusive to the HTC VIVE. In addition to the Complete Edition's content (except on the HTC VIVE) the Remastered Edition includes four new outfits and two new collections. Certain whole-game achievements that only included the main cases and not the DLC cases in previous versions of the game, now include every cases' progress. During interrogations the "Truth" "Doubt" and "Lie" options are now "Good Cop" "Bad Cop" and "Accuse", respectively. Instead of the type of reaction Cole will give, the Remastered Edition goes towards his behavior for the interrogation options. However, his actual reactions will be the same as they were in the original game. The same will apply for Jack Kelso as well.

Just like in the original Complete Edition, DLC cases in the Remastered Edition are story missions that must be completed in order to progress the storyline. Just like the original Complete Edition, there are no DLC cases in the Patrol or Homicide desk chapters. In addition, there are no new Vehicles, Newspapers, Landmarks, or Gold Film Reels to unlock aside from the ones that appear in the original game, nor are there new Street Crimes to complete. However, new Outfits will become available as the player progresses; some are exclusive to the remastered versions, and new Collectibles will become available as well, each offering various challenges and rewards for completing them.

  • The PS4 & XB1 versions also include new cinematic camera angles and a Photo Mode that lets the player freeze the scene and change the camera position, exclude characters, and add filters & effects to take custom screenshots.
  • The Nintendo Switch version includes a Joy-Con mode with gyroscopic, gesture-based controls, HD rumble and new wide and over-the-shoulder camera angles, plus contextual touch screen controls.
  • The HTC VIVE version consists of 7 of the 26 cases.

The Remastered games were released on 14 November in worldwide on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The 7-case VR edition for the HTC VIVE was released December 15th.

Trivia

Mainmenu
  • L.A. Noire is heavily influenced by the films L.A. Confidential, Chinatown, and The Naked City, among many others, using characters and locations similar to various noire movies.
  • "Noire" is the feminine form of the French word "noir" meaning "black".
  • When the player encounters the orange Neon sign reading "L.A. Noire" before loading the game, the letters L, I, and E never flicker, spelling Lie, in that order.
  • Being set in 1947, the game's setting has a few features that did not exist at the time and a few factual errors.
    • Many of the vehicles and songs in the game are from 1948 or 1949, the most notable being the 1949 Chevrolet Styleline.
    • In one case, there is a letter with a ZIP code. ZIP codes were not introduced until 1963.
    • The animation for characters entering cars shows that they are putting on 3-point seatbelts. Lap style seat belts were not even offered as options in cars until 1949 and 3-point seat belts were patented in 1955.
    • Many storefronts display a 50-star American flag. The 49th and 50th states would not be admitted until 1959.
  • L.A. Noire is banned in Saudi Arabia because it contains scenes of nudity.
  • L.A. Noire was the first game to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was shown as an hour-long film, followed by a session where the audience could ask questions to the developers about the making of the game.
  • A majority of the actors in this game have appeared on the show Mad Men including Aaron Staton who plays Cole Phelps.
  • It is so far the only Rockstar game this generation to be published by them but not developed by Rockstar.
  • When using the Nintendo Switch as a portable unit, some players have noticed reduced framerates at times.
  • The vast majority of cutscenes in the Remastered Edition are not recorded by the gameplay recorder features on the Playstation 4 or XBox One and taking screenshots during them with the console's hardware are blocked.

Gallery

Videos

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