L.A. Noire

 
(i)

 

Complex, violent police drama is intended for adult gamers.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As opposed to some other games from Rockstar, the same developer behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise, this game clearly places players on the side of good. The film noire-inspired story focuses on bringing criminals to justice. However, it does not shy away from portraying the corruption, violence, and sexual imagery often involved in this pursuit.

Positive role models

The protagonist is often referred to as a clean cop, an incorruptible hero who is fair-minded and strongly motivated to discover the truth at all costs. Note, though, that most of the game’s characters are archetypes from the period. They may use racial slurs, casually discuss spousal abuse, and drink heavily while on the job. What’s more, our hero, though clearly depicted as an upstanding officer, isn’t always the kindest of men when interrogating persons of interest. He sometimes lashes out with terrible accusations -- at the player’s command -- without good reason. Plus, it’s not uncommon for him to strike pedestrians while driving, though they all seem to live (the game strongly discourages running down civilians).

Ease of play

While controls for driving and gunfights are pretty standard and should prove familiar to veteran gamers, other aspects of the game, such as searching crime scenes, interrogating persons of interest, and flipping through a case notebook, are wholly original and will take time to learn, regardless of player experience. Interviews are particularly hard, as players must watch and listen carefully to determine whether interviewees are telling the truth.

Violence

Players frequently find themselves in gunfights against a wide variety of criminal characters, such as murderers, robbers, and abusive spouses. Characters yelp in pain and blood sprays from wounds to stain clothing and coat the ground. Several interactive scenarios show gruesome, bloody murder scenes, with the player manipulating corpses looking for clues. Players also engage in relatively mild fist fights. Non-interactive scenes show criminals beating, shooting, and murdering people in graphic ways that involve weapons such as crowbars and guns. Players can strike pedestrians with cars, but these civilians always seem to survive, dodging so that they take only a glancing blow.

Sex

Several crime scenes show fully naked corpses of women sprawled on the ground. Players can interact with these corpses, closely examining marks and wounds on their abdomens, chests, wrists, and faces. One of the city’s stores has a sculpture of a bare-breasted woman on its shop front. Another scene shows a deranged man running around in the street in his underwear. Sexual topics are brought up casually in dialogue, with characters using words like “shlong” and discussing a woman’s ripped panties.

Language

Expect a full range of swear words, including “ass,” “bitch” “s--t,” and several variations of the F-word. Also, several characters use racial slurs that were used during that time period, including the words “kike,” “goy,” and the "N" word.

Consumerism

Several products sporting known brands -- Tiffany & Co., Chevrolet, Oxydol -- appear in the game’s environment, but they are period-specific and not intended as product placements.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many non-player characters smoke cigarettes and drink and appear in bar scenes that are visited during investigations. Players also examine empty beer bottles and cigarette packages, matchbooks, and cigarette stubs. A tobacco company ad on the radio describes in detail why its cigarettes are the most satisfying. Some investigations involve the examination of drug evidence, including marijuana.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that L.A. Noire is a crime thriller featuring gunfights, nude corpses, and strong language. It is targeted specifically at adult players and is not intended for children. The game’s complex cases force players to unflinchingly investigate some very disturbing crime scenes, absorbing as much as they can from mutilated bodies and other bloody evidence in order to identify and track down criminal suspects. While mature themes are prevalent throughout, the story is presented from the side of law enforcement, and its protagonist -- the character that players control -- is depicted as an incorruptibly good cop seeking justice in each case he is assigned.

What's it about?

Combining elements from film noire, modern procedural police dramas, and third-person open-world action games, L.A. NOIRE puts players in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a decorated World War II veteran who starts a career on the L.A. police force in 1946 and quickly gets promoted from beat cop to detective. Each new case requires him to study crime scenes in search of evidence and to record clues in his notebook. He puts the pieces together to identify persons of interest, then finds and interrogates them. Thanks to a bar-raising, performance-capture technique, characters are capable of subtle facial expressions that may indicate when an interviewee is holding back on the truth or outright lying. Players have to decide on the fly whether they trust the responses they hear, and could accidentally send the wrong person to jail if they make mistakes. Players can also choose to accept quick one-off missions -- in-progress bank robberies, domestic abuse situations, suicidal jumpers -- via calls that come in over the radio as they drive through an intricately detailed recreation of mid-century Los Angeles.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There’s no other game like L.A. Noire. Some elements -- the third person gun battles, for example -- are clearly derivative. However, the meat of the game -- procedural investigations that involve exhaustive crime scene searches, intense interviews with persons of interest, canvassing people who live near crime scenes, chats with the coroner to gather scientific evidence -- is something that’s never been seen before in this manner in the world of interactive entertainment. And it’s extremely compelling.

At least it will be for some gamers. There’s little doubt that a game like this won’t prove engaging for all. Miss a clue or fail to interpret a subtle interviewee expression properly and your job can get much harder. The slow pace may leave some action junkies wondering what they signed up for. However, game fans who have always wanted to know what it might be like to be a character in gritty old police thrillers like Double Indemnity or Touch of Evil will be in pure heaven.

Online interaction: Players can connect with Rockstar’s online Social Club to see how other players have handled certain issues in witness and suspect interrogations. Community results are shown as percentages; no communication is involved.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Does it bother you if games allow or direct you to hurt innocent characters? Do you prefer to always play as the good guy?

  • Does this procedure-oriented game make the job of a detective seem interesting to you? Do you think you might have a knack for finding clues, reading interviewee reactions, and putting puzzle pieces together?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Price:$59.99
Available online?Available online
Developer:Rockstar Games
Release date:May 17, 2011
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

This review of L.A. Noire was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 13 and 15 year old Written byJeannie97211 May 20, 2011
 

This game is great, the nudity is not nearly as bad as the review above makes it out to be.

As a parent, I was reluctant to buy this game due to its ratings, but I thought I would at least give it a try, so I bought this for 15 and 13 year old sons, and they absolutely LOVE it! I have seen them play this for a while now. When the game is rated M for nudity, that was my biggest concern, but it was not actually a big problem, the nudity is no worse than the nudity in the move "Silence Of The Lambs", they are only corpses and are somewhat covered up with a bag. The drinking and smoking is no worse than what you would see in a regular action flick and the same goes for swearing.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Parent of a 10, 11, and 18 year old Written bySteadFast Racing May 29, 2011
 

NOT FOR KIDS!!!

ADULT GAME - to expose kids under the age of 17 to this game is like introducing them to the depravity of this world up close. Yes, killings happen everyday but we arent exposed to the mind or methods of the killer. innocent minds should be protected from this. It is a good game but it is meant for adults, the game even has a character that is into necrophilia. Raise your kids responsibly, dont just give into their every wish or desire... our next generation is going to be afflicted with all sorts of issues because parents didnt filter out good and bad from the eyes and minds of young kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written byGameView September 20, 2011
 

Its ok for kids!

La noire is fine for kids ten or over the violence and bad scenes are not set so bad. If you did not let you son/daughter get Grand Theft Auto then let them get La noire. it is realy ok i mean it has it scenes but it is ok.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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