I think I’ve played enough of the game to do this now. This will also be an opportunity to work on my layout for reviews intended for parents who ask “Is this game appropriate for my kid?”
First, the beneficial side to this game-
Physical- Cole Phelps, a former USMC officer is very fit and chases people constantly on foot. It is a stretch, but some people may take this as motivation to run more… not likely though. Auto-aim is decent in this game, requiring manual aim only when your enemy is behind cover, so there is a slight hit on hand-eye coordination and dexterity development, but, like most games, just running around trying not to hit walls in your car is enough to improve your coordination.
Emotional/Social- With the Social Club, people who play LA Noire are in competition with others, from time spent looking for clues vs. how many clues were found to how many bullets you fired and how many were hit. Competition, especially in controlled arenas is healthy. Also, since this title is one of the biggest of the year, the likelihood that it will be a topic of conversation among young men, in particular, is high.
Mental- The game revolves around cases where you scour crime scenes and residences for the evidence that will convict your suspect. Once you have the evidence, you can interrogate your suspect, searching their faces and idiosyncrasies to see if they are lying. This requires focus and a good strategy for ensuring every clue is found.
Education- Reading- At the end of the homicide cases, you are given snippets from a poem and must determine where your next stop is from the map, the poem, and the little bits of information given about each area. Good reading ability and memory are very beneficial.
Education- Math- nothing that I have found is purchased, and no money or other valuable is dropped, so there is no element of financial responsibility.
Education- Logic- there are some logical puzzles that are somewhat on the simple side that must be solved to gain vital clues, like putting together a water heater or reassembling a globe.
Education- History/Civics/Politics- Cole has flashbacks to his days in WW2, occasionally giving some insight, like why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the first place. He is a very intelligent man, and will make comments throughout the game. Also, as you pass certain city landmarks, you can read briefs about them, learning more about the history of LA itself. I am starting to get into a part of the story that is referencing the Red Scare as well, which may spark curiosity into that era of our history.
Morals- Cole is an honest cop, and while his partners may do the wrong thing, thinking they are doing the best, Cole refuses to take part in anything that might be contradictory to his beliefs. You can commandeer cars on the street, much like stealing them in Grand Theft Auto, but it comes with an unspoken agreement that the car will be returned to its owner eventually. Every mission is started with your standard issue police car, regardless of what you steal off the street. Also, the more property you damage or people you hit while driving from case to case affects your overall performance on each case, so it behooves you to stay within the lines and run your siren to let people know you are coming through. Cole only pulls out his gun when there is a present deadly threat, and as far as I can tell, you cannot just run around shooting people for fun.
Difficulty- There are a few helpful options for people who want to be a detective, but aren’t very good at the action genre. Auto-aim, on by default, will help you hit center mass, but you still have to correct for cover. Clue assistance, which is on by default, will rumble your controller when you come near an object you can interact with. Finally, the last option, which I can’t remember the name of, will allow you to bypass chase scenes, gunfights, and brawls if you fail them enough times. This is also set to on by default. I don’t know how many is “enough” because I hadn’t failed anything more than once before finding that option and disabling it.
Now for the bad parts-
Profanity- lots. Besides the f-bombs, and the c-word that most people think is even worse, there are racial and ethnic slurs. Also, seeing as it is set in the 1940s, before the civil rights movement, the word Negro is applied abundantly. One of your partners is a misogynist, talking about women as if all are automatically bad because he has been through three divorces.
Violence- fist-fights and gun fights. You’ll see blood spots on your back if you are hit by gunfire.
Graphic images – The images of violence get fairly graphic as well. At one point, you zoom in on a woman’s hand which has had the wedding ring forcibly removed, as well as the sin around it, showing bone.
Nudity- You investigate a string of women who are murdered and left in parks naked. There is a point to the nudity, but it doesn’t stop pubic hair and boobs from being on your tv.
Lawlessness- This game is about cops who can, on occasion make mistakes whether accidental or on purpose, like a decision between putting away a child molester for a murder that the husband probably committed, but the husband isn’t likely to hurt anyone in society again, whereas the molester certainly will. Overall, though, the game represents a good sense of morality. Cole takes responsibility for anyone he has to shoot and loathes the idea of putting an innocent man in the gas chamber.
Verdict- The game is rated mature for 17+. There is good reason for this. If you know your kids and what they can handle, it is your prerogative to allow or disallow access to the game. If you let your kids watch R rated movies, this is somewhat equivalent, depending on the movie.