Graphically, the game is decent, though not amazing. The PS3 version is limited to 720p, (the Xbox version does 1080p). With the PS3 version, view distance is rather limited, though one could argue this is a realistic — if anachronistic — representation of the legendary haze of my adopted city. What the graphics lack in realism, the art direction makes up for. It's a beautifully realized Los Angeles of the 40s, from the cars to the buildings to the outfits, everything. That's 1947, to be precise, and developers Team Bondi certainly were careful in recreating the period look, drawing heavily on Robert Spence's aerial photography of L.A. as it evolved over the first half of the 20th century.
Extensive motion capture was used on all the actors, so facial expressions and body language are far more realistic than they are in most other games (the rendering is good enough that you can recognize the actors that the characters are based on, which is really cool). Sadly, the engine fails to live up to the characterizations, as there's still a jerkiness to the movements, similar to that found in the GTA games. Still, these visual issues (aside from some noticeable aliasing) are minor enough that they're not overly distracting.
Voice acting, generally, is fantastic. Aaron Staton does a great job as the main character, Cole Phelps. Many other familiar actors have smaller parts or cameos, which adds to the movie feel of the whole game.
The music, by Andrew Hale, does a great job creating the atmosphere for this game noir. The sound effects, be it guns or the various cars you drive, are decent but nothing special. I often felt there was a dearth of audio in an otherwise fully realized city.
L.A. Noire tries to do something a little different with the open world shooter concept, and it largely succeeds. I can't say I was as riveted to it as I was with Portal 2 (my most recent love), but as one of the best big-budget games in recent memory, it is easily worth the money.
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