L.A. Noire Review

  • Posted May 23rd, 2011 at 14:29 EDT by Adam Dolge

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L.A. Noire

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L.A. Noire's intriguing character profile, deep interrogation and investigation system, and impeccably detailed facial technology puts this detective thriller in a class of its own.

We like

  • L.A. is highly detailed, atmospheric
  • Terrific casting, motionscan technology
  • Compelling character profile and narrative

We dislike

  • Some cases are slightly disjointed
  • Control issues occasionally hinder action sequences

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

(continued from previous page) ...the ranks of the LAPD as detective on different desks: traffic, homicide, vice, and finally arson. While each desk has a different feel, the basics are generally the same. Phelps starts each case in his desk’s briefing room as his superior delves out the initial details. You may take on a series of disturbing homicides, investigate a corrupt housing developer, or connect the dots on a morphine distribution ring. You are given a notebook that contains all of your case notes. Inside you’ll find a description of people involved in the case, locations, and any evidence you’ve found so far. Finding evidence involves snooping through crime scenes or other locations and waiting until your control vibrates. This is one example of how the game helps players put the story together. In addition, music plays when there is evidence to collect. When the music stops, there is no more evidence to find. Not everything you pick up is worthwhile; in fact, the majority of objects you investigate are irrelevant to case, only adding another layer of realism to this deeply engrossing game. You can manipulate objects you pick up, and the control will vibrate again if there is something worthwhile to check out. This vibrating feature, along with the aural hints, may be turned off in the options menu if you want to truly test your abilities.

The cases are tied together, but not every case seems to fit. The homicide cases initially were the most interesting, but they didn’t play into the overall story so much as the other desks. Think of the game like a TV series with each desk acting as a season, and each level acting as an episode. Like any good cop TV show, it initially draws you into the story and introduces you to the bulk of the characters you’ll meet throughout the series. You’ll meet bartenders, pest controller salesmen, gangsters, fellow detectives, crooked cops, a manipulative doctor, and a sexy jazz club singer. While the plot develops well early in the series, the middle season seems detached from the overall drama, but it’s wrapped up nicely in the end. And, like a good show, the ending isn’t really a huge shock, but it’s upsetting, and not only for the plot points, but also because all the characters you took the time to know and love are looking for another job.

L.A. Noire is a joy to watch. In fact, it’s almost (I mean, really close) as fun to watch as it is to play. Since a lot of the gameplay involves an actual case investigation, you can collaborate with a friend trying to put the pieces together. This is one of the first mature titles that I’ve played together with my girlfriend, and she actually enjoyed it as much as I did. In fact, I could see playing a case in front of my mom and she would get drawn right into the story.

That’s not to say L.A. Noire is simply a slow-progressing story that’s more in love with asking questions than shooting a thug square in the face. Just about every case has an action sequence to keep you from falling asleep (not because it’s overly dull, but because the cases are typically pretty long). These sequences may include running down suspects, tailing a taxi, or an all-out gun battle. Driving is everything you remembered from GTA IV; the R2 button controls the gas while the L2 buttons controls the brakes. Fist fighting and gun battles aren’t terrible, but they are sometimes troubled by control issues, especially ducking behind cover. I also have some issues with how the run button is mapped to the same button used to shoot. In addition, there are some typical camera control issues that will slow things down, but these are very small problems if you are comfortable in third-person environment.

You will find plenty of replay value that works quite well into the 1940s L.A. backdrop. The map is absolutely massive and populated with more than 400 actors. You can collect 95 classic vehicles, including hidden cars scattered through the city, and respond to an assortment of street crime like brawls or shootouts. There is little doubt we’ll see a bevy of DLC in the near future, and ... (continued on next page)

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