Cole Phelps is back with his first ever Arson desk DLC, and this one’s a doozy. Unlike most of your cases, which are a slow build, this one literally starts off with a bang.
In the cold dead of morning, the Nicholson Electroplating plant explodes in a thunderous eruption of twisted metal: and it’s up to you to find out what happened.
First things first, the Nicholson DLC is based off a real life events: and given the amount of effort Rockstar put into this one, it shows. The explosion itself is one of the most exciting single events in the game, and the attention to detail is especially evident in this DLC. One of the best things about the case is that the endgame and motive are not immediately apparent – which happens with nearly every murder and vice case, despite how entertaining they might be.
Since this is an Arson case, you’re once again partnered with “ol’ basket case” Herschel Biggs. While Biggs was one of my least favorite partners in L.A. Noire, his character does a decent job of keeping things on track in this one, and his naivete helps add a welcome element of calm in contrast to the state of emergency L.A.’s inhabitants are currently in.
As previously mentioned, the attention to detail shines through by way of the case’s story. Nicholson will take you all across L.A., from the explosion site, to suspect’s apartments, and even airplane hangers. Fans of The Rocketeer and The Aviator will also recognize a pretty big namedrop: Howard Hughes. Although he doesn’t appear in person in the DLC, as a huge fan of Hughes’ history, it was great to be able to visit one of the locations that housed the Spruce Goose, and see it for myself.
In fact, after visiting the Goose, I found myself retro-actively wishing that Team Bondi melded more historical elements of L.A. into the main game, considering how well it was done in Nicholson. While the developers did do a great job re-creating Los Angeles and some key landmarks in the core game, said landmarks didn’t really feel like an intricate part of the story like they do here. As an added bonus, in addition to the historical backdrop, you’ll also get a few extra tiny details on Cole’s childhood interests, which is always a welcome addition.
As far as the action scenes go, they’re very well distributed – probably more so than any other case. As soon as the case starts, Herschel will tell you to “get in the car and get to the cloud”, which creates an immediate sense of urgency. Over the course of the DLC, you’ll shoot a couple of looters, decipher some puzzles, closely look over photographic evidence, and engage in a few chase scenes: add in a healthy amount of investigatory work and a large shootout, and you have a pretty diverse gameplay array.
So far, L.A. Noire’s DLC has had one hit and one miss, but if there’s more on the way like Nicholson, there’s nothing to worry about. Cole’s superior calls this case “the case of the decade” – I might be inclined to agree.
Gamer Limit gives L.A. Noire: Nicholson Electroplating Disaster a 9.5 out of 10.