So, I finished up L.A. Noire, at least the main storyline cases.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. The game has plenty of problems and there are a number of elements I wish had been handled differently, but I have to give Rockstar and Team Bondi some kudos for trying something a little different and succeeding where they did. Looks like it took me about 27 hours to finish the cases, handle about half the street crimes, and just muck around in general: well worth the price, and I’ll probably play a little more from time to time until there’s some DLC.
As for where they failed and succeeded, well, I don’t want to get specific. There’s some mostly general, non-spoilery stuff below.
- I didn’t really care for the detective you play, Cole Phelps. That isn’t to say he wasn’t well-written or performed; he was. I just didn’t like him much, and even with his back-story revealed, I just didn’t care that much about him. I think I felt more empathy for Niko Bellic, which is kinda weird.
- Cole’s partners were very well done. You get a few different partners depending on which desk you’re working, and I thought they were great and evolved nicely as the game proceeded.
- Examining clues was just plain fun. I will never, ever tire of having a roomful of stuff to pick up and examine. If you could have picked up an examined every single object in the world, I would have done so. It’s just neat, even with items that have no relevance to the case.
- Someone should make a detective mod for Oblivion or Fallout 3, where you actually can pick up and interact with every single object in the world. I would play the shit out of that.
- A couple bugs: there was a remaining clue in a location in a certain case, but even using the intuition feature that told me exactly where it was, there was nothing there. Unless it was buried in the floor, but I didn’t have a jackhammer either way.
- At one point while driving through a neighborhood, I pulled into the driveway of a large house, just to look at it. When I stopped, a large, closed gate rendered directly behind me, meaning I couldn’t exit the driveway, and had to restart.
- During one chase, an empty car materialized in the sky, and plummeted about fifty feet down onto the street. Not complaining: it was funny as hell. I think the script called for the fleeing suspect to crash into someone, and there was no one around, so the game just created a car in mid-air to satisfy its requirements.
- The overall story didn’t please me that much. Part of it was that I figured out something way ahead of where the game apparently wanted me to (I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the same thing, so I’m not saying I’m some kind of detective genius). Part of it was not really caring much about Phelps. Part of it was just kind of weird.
- I can see what they were going for with the overall story, though. I just don’t think it was a success. I can’t really be any more specific than that without spoilers. I’ll probably do a spoiler-heavy article in the future when more people have played and finished.
- There are some genuine, eye-rollingly clunky moments in the game. It feels like they threw a lot of ideas into a pan but didn’t bake them long enough.
- There’s a lot more action in the game than I originally thought. This is fine: I like shooting people. It makes a nice change of pace from closely examining hairbrushes and carrots. But there is so much action in places it just feels a little incongruous with the general slow, deliberate pace of the game.
- I never really got very good at interrogating people. Lies, I get: they say something, I have evidence that shows otherwise, I confront them with it. Truth vs. Doubt seems a little wiggly, though, and Doubt always seems to end with my blowing my top when perhaps a more cool-headed approach seems in order. Maybe some sort of interrogation strategy option would have been good: Make Nice vs. Intimidate. Good Cop vs. Bad Cop. That kinda thing. I know from reading books and stuff that a lot of successful interrogations result from making the suspect feel like you completely understand and agree with what they did, or from telling them you know stuff that you don’t actually know. There wasn’t much of that in the game. Mainly, Phelps just yelled at people.
- I wish there was more to do, I guess — Los Angeles, for me, remains largely unexplored.
- I can walk into restaurants, and sit down, but I can’t figure out how to order drinks or food. Maybe some games of darts or pool or bowling, like in GTA, would have been nice. Though I’m glad Phelps doesn’t have to go on dates.
- Street crime is fun enough, but I wish there were a few of those “people in need” from GTA, where you could stop, talk to an informant or acquaintance, maybe help out or get involved in some off-the-books crime solving or muscle work.
- Definitely looking forward to DLC. I welcome more individual, stand-alone cases.
Something that’s cool and shows just how different this game is from GTA, according to my stats:
My time spent brawling: 12 minutes
My time spent gunfighting: 1 hour, 55 minutes
My time spent examining clues: 3 hours, 16 minutes