Monday, April 25, 2011

L.A. Noire: Prophesied

When Rockstar Games talks, the gaming world listens. And with good reason; this is a developer that's created and cultivated some of the most ambitious and successful games and franchises in the last ten years. Grand Theft Auto was a phenomenon during the PS2 era and Grand Theft Auto IV was a mega-hit for the current generation of game consoles. Then there was Red Dead Redemption, a re-invigoration of one of Rockstar's older franchises that took the GTA formula in a whole new direction. It won a multitude of Game of the Year awards, changed the way people think about open-world games, and is regarded by many as a modern classic.

And now, in less than a month, Rockstar and developer Team Bondi will be releasing their next game, L.A. Noire. This marks the beginning of a brand new franchise for the heavy-hitting developer/publisher and it seems to be following the design tenants of Red Dead; Take the GTA formula and twist it into something completely unexpected.

For the uninitiated, L.A. Noire takes place in the late 1940's and puts you in the shoes of a man named Cole Phelps, a soldier just back from World War II whose trying to find his place in the world. Deciding to put his military experience to use, he joins the LAPD and your main goal throughout the game is to climb the ranks of the police force to go from street cop to detective and then you must work your way up through the hierarchy of departments like traffic, homicide, vice, etc..

The gameplay seems to blend the open-world freedom, driving, and gun fights from GTA IV with detective work similar to that of the Ace Attorney series or Heavy Rain. This means you'll be exploring crime scenes for clues and, once you've found them, you can take a closer look at them to reveal more information about the case. The cover system and shooting control seem to have been tightened up since GTA IV and should work even better here. The driving looks similar to GTA but I suspect that, although there will be car chases, the cars will probably drive slower than they did in Liberty City since these are all cars from the 40's. This is probably for the best since driving too quickly in GTA IV would sometimes cause the game to hitch up and objects often wouldn't appear until you'd already crashed into them.

Stylistically, this game already gets the thumbs up from me. How often do you see 1940's era America depicted in a video game? And how often do you see it done to the quality on display here? Never.
L.A. Noire looks like crime drama at it's absolute best and with a powerhouse like Rockstar to back it, May should be great month for a trip to the City of Angels.

Here's an official trailer that sets the stage very well and should pique your intrest if this post hasn't already: