3DS Review: James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes

LA Noire meets Professor Layton this is not…

I love a good crime story, especially one where you are hunting down a serial killer. LA Noire took it to a whole new level with its take on the seedy side of the city, while bringing some disturbing post-mortem close-ups. Puzzles games like Professor Layton have been popular on the DS, so surely combining the two wouldn’t be too difficult. Perhaps that wasn’t the intention of the developer, but it comes across that they wanted to do this…but couldn’t quite due to the 12 age rating.

The game starts out with you taking a picture of yourself with the 3DS camera, so it can be used in the game’s cutscenes, like for newspaper clippings and so on. You enter a TV gameshow where you choose puzzles to solve to get points, after which you are approached by a former friend and agent who wants your advice to solve a murder, he gives you photos which also become puzzles in themselves as you try and work out what the murderer has left you to so solve. You can get hints and even the solution if you have enough resources from the gameshow, but you won’t need many since they are pretty easy.

The problem is that despite there being murders, you don’t really see anything gruesome, all you do is solve little puzzles as you try and track down the killer. It starts out slow though and the interactive movie-style doesn’t quite work as it looks particularly dated and doesn’t make good use of the hardware.

The 3D effect isn’t the best either, but it does use the tilt controls for some of the puzzles, which mixes things up a bit. Voice-acting is pretty cheesy, but then again it’s Hollywood…so what do you expect? The music is a mixed bag. Another problem is that once it’s all done, there’s no real reason to come back. It’s rough around the edges, but it can be fun if you can get past the negatives that hold it back.

There are some good head-scratching puzzles to be found though, and as long as you don’t cheat by looking online…then you’ll have a good time with it. It may not be perfect, but it does have its moments that are impressive…despite the lacklustre storytelling methods used, it just doesn’t impress at all and feels like it was initially made for DS, but half-way through they decided to just add the 3D effect for the sake of it.

The Verdict

James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes is a good puzzler, but it’s not unique and what it does has been done before a lot better. It has no replay value once it’s done, but it does somehow manage to keep you playing till the end, despite its flaws.