L.A. Noire is groundbreaking, innovative, and at times downright brilliant. It is also infuriating, repetitive, and at times downright laughable in its execution. Yet somehow, it manages to rise above these imperfections and deliver a compelling, if not wholly suprising, story.
L.A. Noire offers a glimpse into gaming's future, a future ripe with wondrous possibilities. Instead of relying on story to show off excellent gameplay. L.A. Noire finds a way to invert the relationship between the two, using gameplay as a device with which to further the story. This subservience to the narrative serves to make L.A. Noire a much more interesting game than the average open world shooter. I'm not even sure game is the right word for this title, it is more of an experience than anything else.
Linearity is not usually conducive to interactivity, yet L.A. Noire manages to marry the two into a certain cohesiveness many games simply can't match. Cole Phelps felt less like an extension of myself, and more like his own living breathing person. That is a testament to the performance of Aaron Staton, an actor whose excellent portrayal of Cole Phelps would have been impossible with standard facial animation technologies. Instead with the use of MotionScan, L.A. Noire is able to convey a lifelike quality, that not only broaches the uncanny valley but at times shatters it.
What this means for the future of gaming becomes apparent early into your first playthrough. No longer can developers focus solely on gameplay to the cost of story, no longer can characters be soulless two dimensional cutouts of stereotypes, and no longer can developers give gamers "mature" games with no substance.
L.A. Noire has something to say, and like any good cop, you have to read between the lines if you want to hear the message.
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