LA NOIRE - Review (☆☆☆☆☆)

          After I was about 24-hours deep into L.A. Noire the 17-year-old son of my fiancée (who'd not yet played) asked, "Do you find your former experience as a cop helps?"

          "No."  I said, keeping the hop-headed juvenile delinquent in my peripheral vision while still focusing on the baby booming post-war city of angels (where none are depicted).  "In fact, I find the opposite to be true."

          If you're a fan of any or all of the games made by Rockstar, you'll like this one and will be in familiar territory.  Here, instead of being a gangster (like in all the GTA's) or an outlaw (Red Dead Redemption) you're a good cop in a world of corruption.  Just like previous Rockstar's, you still drive any and every vehicle—but in 1947 L.A. you ask politely or 'emergency commandeer' them—but, different from previous games, you must drive carefully; hitting citizens or damaging property ruins your score.

          The map of Los Angeles is huge and there are more puzzles than ever before.  Players must find 50 golden film reels (hard—I've only found 2); discover and photograph all the 1947 landmarks; drive 95 different cars (not too hard—I've already found 83); and solve a few dozen crimes by locating evidence and interviewing people.

          Here's where being a former cop is a detriment:  You choose from truth, doubt, or lie after they answer every interview question.  No going back.  No do-overs.  No interrogations.  No repeating yourself.  And, if you don't have hard, tangible, evidence in-hand you can't accuse them of lying.  But...just like in real life...everyone rarely tells the truth.  So far, I'm the worst at determining who's telling the truth and who to doubt (there's a built-in work-around using "intuition points," but I've not resorted to that quasi-cheat—obviously, my downfall).

          All the missions in the game could probably reach 'case closed' status in less than 25 total-hours.  However, with all the side missions, puzzles, and the occasional case do-over (because your outcome changes depending on the quantity of evidence you compile, confessions you obtain, and collateral damage you avoid) I believe the game will/could take a minimum of 75-100 hours before boredom sets in.

          Although I think LA NOIRE deserves my highest rating, it's not for children.  Not because it's rife with the stereotypical misogyny, racism, and hyper-nationalism often depicted in films and TV, which show us post-WWII America through a dark and gritty lens, (e.g. Dragnet, The Killers, The Two Jakes) nor because it contains violence, nudity, and profanity (albeit that's not a bad reason) but because it requires an adult's reasoning and sensibility.  If you're old enough to enjoy a black-and-white police procedural you'll understand and appreciate this game.       

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