360 or PS3?
One of the biggest (or, at least, most frequently asked) questions leading up to Noire’s launch is which platform has the best version. The PS3 has a clear edge here, as the entire game is packed onto a single disc (as opposed to three discs on the 360, which to be fair aren’t much of a hassle to swap out), and it comes with a download voucher for an extra traffic-desk case. Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of noticeable differences between the two versions, although we’ve put together a video of both (captured at 720p) running side-by-side in case you’d like to see for yourself:
Is it better than...
Heavy Rain? Yes. Not only is there more "game" here, but L.A. Noire tells a more coherent story, with better acting and fewer creepy feigned accents. Also, even though cops in L.A. Noire never seem to get in trouble for working without warrants and roughing up prisoners, its creators seem to have at least a basic grasp of how police investigations work, which in Heavy Rain amounted to "hearsay about a suspect carrying an 'origarmi figger' is airtight evidence that he's a child murderer."
Mafia II? Yes. While the games are fundamentally different – Mafia II's emphasis is almost entirely on linear driving and shooting, while Noire's is on open-ended investigation – they both try to build an open-world re-creation of postwar America. Noire's attempt is more compelling and interesting, with more variety and things to do, and its clockwork city feels much less soulless than Mafia II’s Empire Bay, and more alive.
Red Dead Redemption
? No, although it’s damn close. Again, these are two games that offer different experiences, and we commend L.A. Noire for doing something completely new. However, if you’re looking at the whole packages, Red Dead’s bear-filled vision of the Old West in decline is just a little more fascinating to explore than Noire’s pre-sprawl LA, its revenge story is more personally affecting than Noire’s tale of corruption and redemption, and its outlaw conceit is a little freer than Noire’s take on two-fisted crimefighting. Again, though: it’s awfully close.
Just for you, Metacritic!
L.A. Noire is a staggering technological achievement, offering up a fantastically detailed open world, a hugely engrossing story, varied gameplay and some of the best acting performances ever to appear in a game. More impressively, all of its parts work together beautifully, creating an immensely fun adventure that’s worth replaying at least once.
May 16, 2011