L.A. Noire was a very cool experience. It’s a solid game, but I can see how not everyone might like it.
One thing that jumped out at me is that it’s got that “adventure game” vibe – the kind that Under a Killing Moon or Rise of the Dragon had back in the day when the genre’s golden age hadn’t quite slipped into twilight just yet. That automatically gives it a wholly different kind of pacing than a Grand Theft Auto, not the least of which is also because you play a cop meaning that random run-overs were no longer “part of the job”.
Taken from the perspective of ye olde adventures, I thought it was great fun. But if I headed in thinking that I’d be blasting across L.A. like an Untouchable (that could also be fun) I’d be disappointed when I hit my first interrogation and actually had to solve something.
Instead of throwing objects at a puzzle as you would in an adventure game, you’ve got an inventory of clues and statements. The only downside to this is that once you’ve reached the end, it’s pretty much over. The story has been told and there’s not a lot of random activity outside of the main case and the random street crimes to go after. Unless you want to five-star all of your cases, there’s not a lot of extra ground to cover outside of the main game.
There’s also no multiplayer, though how it would work in Noire could be a problem – detectives won’t normally shoot at each other, but you can actually post a question to the online community using Phelps’ “intuition points”.
But I’ll never really look at in-game conversations the same way again in any other game. Heavy Rain tested me on reacting to the thoughts in a character’s head, reflexively picking what I thought they should be doing on the spur of the moment.
L.A. Noire pushed me to look into a suspect’s eyes and be able to tell whether or not they were lying through their teeth, or whether that smile meant something else entirely. There’s no doubt that Noire is a game with character. Definitely recommended, but only if you like a slower paced adventure set in a sandbox L.A. from the 1940’s.
That’s the short version. If you need more to go on, you can always click here for my full report.