I didn’t complete LA Noire, but I played it for something like ten days, so I’m calling myself qualified to review it. Short answer is for all the new and experimental stuff that the game tries, it fails in exactly the same way most Rockstar do. The mechaincs are repetitive, the story is not interesting, and the game is too damn long. I kind of want to finish it, but I cannot stand another second of repetitive case work. New, entertaining game for me next. Details within.
- The representation of LA is amazing. There is so much character to the environment that you just love driving around. If nothing else, the world is solid.
- The side quests are quite varied and quite fun. There wasn’t a moment in the game where I didn’t drop anything I was doing to see what little quest I would get from the police alerts.
- The game is genuinely trying to resurrect some adventure mechanics. In that sense, it innovates in a number of ways and it does occasionally succeed with something quite interesting. Not always, mind you, but there are a couple of quite good chases, investigations, and interviews.
- The game is WAY too repetitive. You literally go through the same two steps in every investigation several times each, with a swapped in fist-fight, shoot out, and chase for flavor. None of those mechanics is strong enough to maintain over that many plays. When murder cases get boring, you are doing something very wrong. Of course, the problem here could be that the game is WAY too long.
- The searching mechanic is the worst kind of hotspot hunting. It will remind you why adventure games died.
- The interrogation mechanic is completely inscrutable at times. The difference between a Lie and a Doubt is invisible far too often, and Phelps way too frequently gives a response you don’t expect or uses a piece of evidence in a way that you couldn’t have guessed.
- The characters are still uncanny creepy. They move better than many characters I’ve seen before, so the action sequences are actually quite fluid, but whenever anyone is still, it makes you shudder. And the women in the game are just UG-LY.
- Phelps’s story moves too slow and stays too tame for most of the experience — at least as much as I saw. It’s just hard to care about him.
- It’s a Rockstar game, so you have the same mediocre shooting, fighting, and driving mechanics. They are all serviceable, but nothing to write home about.
As my friend Clayton put it, “I can’t wait until LA Noire 3.” It’s clear that they are trying something new with this game, and for that I tip my hat, but the mechanics are just too weak and used far too much each for the game to be anything but a slog. Rent it to see what it’s about, but it doesn’t get any better, so do yourself a favor and stop early. And wait patiently to see if Rockstar can figure this out and make a good game out of these interesting but failed pieces in the future.