Unless you’ve been completely oblivious to the world, you may have heard about Rockstar’s latest epic, L.A. Noire. This isn’t your usual GTA game, there are no beating down pedestrians and taking their cars, no wild gun battles involving tanks and grenade launchers. Ok, well there are car chases, but not as extreme as before. L.A. Noire is perhaps one of the most original games in recent memory.

The story revolves around Cole Phelps as he rises through the ranks of the LAPD. He moves through assignments in the traffic, homicide, vice and arson desks. The cases follow pretty much the same formula. You investigate the scene of the crime, gather clues, interview witnesses and suspects as you try to solve the case. This is all set against the backdrop of 1940s Los Angeles and the culture and corruption that permeated the society of the time. This is the one thing that makes the game that much more enjoyable. It’s not just the city itself created down to the smallest detail, it’s the way of life that is depicted, the way husbands and wives interact, attitudes towards minorities and the like.

One of the biggest additions to the game is the revolutionary facial animation system. You see the actual faces of the actors, realistically created in the game. There were times when I thought I was actually watching a movie. Muscle twitches, blinking and other like movements are what you would expect them to in real life. This is crucial when you interrogate witnesses and suspects, as you must read these twitches and movements in order to ascertain whether they are lying or telling the truth. It’s equal parts being Cal Lightman from Lie To Me and Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney series (which I highly recommend you play).

Some of the things that set the game apart are the same things that drag the overall experience down a bit. For each case you do basically the same set of things in order to solve the case. A while into the game, you learn what to expect, as there’s no really mission variety. This is alleviated by the personalities and events that are encountered. There are instances where you’ll feel like you’re playing a GTA game with a different setting. Also, the shootout sequences are slightly reminiscent of Uncharted. However, these are minor flaws which are more then offset by other facets of the game.

L.A. Noire is a very well crafted game, from the facial animations to the setting. The story is paced nicely with investigating and action sequences, particularly towards the end of the game. Mixing elements from Heavy Rain, Ace Attorney, Uncharted and their own GTA, Rockstar has put forth a very enjoyable game that is sure to be up there as Game of The Year.