Staff Reviews

Briefly Noted: Whodunit? Who Knows?

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L.A. Noire is the latest creation of Rockstar Games, the much-praised company behind Red Dead Redemption and the Grand Theft Auto series. Like those games, Noire offers a massive open world—a down-to-the-shoelaces recreation of Hollywood shortly after World War II. The studio is notorious for games that allow players to engage in freewheeling thuggery, but this time order is the objective: Players take the role of an earnest police investigator moving up the ranks by solving cases.

The game's most intriguing innovation is the chance to conduct "interrogations" of suspects. The challenge is to determine, based on the suspect's behavior, whether he or she is lying. But unlike most video game challenges, there's no trick to mastering it. In the end, it's a mix of thorough prior detective work and subconscious intuition. And even then, it's easy to be wrong. The subjective nature of the game play highlights the uncertainty of much police work. Sometimes even good players—or cops—make big mistakes. —Peter Suderman