L.A. Noire: Final Thoughts On An Innovative Production
After completing L.A. Noire and letting it sit a bit in the ol' noggin, I've got a few parting thoughts.
If you need to catch up, make sure to check out our review as well as the additional video commentary. I mention a few of the drawbacks concerning a "lack of identity" and pacing in the full analysis but here I want to talk about the innovative aspects of the game; specifically, the storytelling, acting performances, and MotionScan.
Firstly, being a proponent of the advancement of video game storylines in terms of overall writing quality, I was impressed at the presentation and depth of L.A. Noire's plot. Granted, it isn't quite as evident through the first half of the game but as things wind to a close, it begins to feel very much like a big-budget drama galloping to its much-anticipated conclusion. The characters flesh out fully, the various stories begin to merge and gel, and that good old-fashioned feeling of uncertainty and excitement dominate the senses. In short, it's dramatically sound.
There are few games that would probably make for a great movie with little adaptation; L.A. Noire could be a film tomorrow without altering either the script or the cast. Perhaps the reason it strikes such a chord with us are those memorable faces; faces that rightfully remain burned in our brain, faces that continually tell us more of the story. I was skeptical of this whole MotionScan thing but after seeing it in action and considering the sheer potential for such a technology, I'm now a believer. Drama is about people. Faces define people. Team Bondi's production is the first game to fully grasp this concept.
While I have my reservations about the actual detective work and how we question suspects and witnesses, it's still a very strong premise with an interesting and often mesmerizing style. The '40s theme really resonates strongly and becomes a staple of the presentation; it helps to cement the adventure's individuality and allows us to marvel at a bygone time. It really is a combination of factors that makes this interactive experience innovative; it isn't necessarily any one element. No wonder it debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival; this is the future of gaming in more ways than one.
I do think too much of it was saved for the last quarter of the story, as the characters felt like they came crashing down with the sheer weight of the revelations behind them. I also would've preferred the final challenge to focus on the mental aspect of the game rather than straight-up shooting. I consider that a mistake; you go to all these lengths to create something special and the end is...well, Red Dead Redemption. But the story really saves it; it's dark, more than a little depressing, and in the end, the insidiousness and pervasiveness of corruption and "justice" wins out. But only to a certain extent...
It's a beautifully designed game that will stay with the player for a very long time, and that's why it's similar to Heavy Rain. It shows us that gaming can be many things and can deliver on multiple levels, and proves that top-notch writing, acting, and extreme attention to detail are still highly valued commodities in this industry. The shooters can be as popular as they wish; it's nice to see the true revolution - the groundbreaking innovation - occurring outside the lines, so to speak.
P.S. I really can't stand the German accent. But you know, for some reason, I could listen to Elsa all damn day.
Related Game(s): L.A. Noire
6/8/2011 10:30:53 PM Ben Dutka