L.A. Noire - I'm going to be honest here - is not really 'clicking' with me at the moment. I'm about four hours into the game so far and, to be perfectly honest, it's all feeling just a little bit flat. But I'm hoping to be convinced that I'm wrong on this. I'm sure some of you guys are a bit further into the game - should I stick with it? Do things improve as the game progresses?
But first - some things I really love about L.A. Noire. The facial animation, obviously, is an integral part of the experience. It's a grand leap forward in terms of production values and, more importantly, enhances the level of performance that can be captured and experienced by the player.
And unlike some visual leaps forward, it's not necessarily an aspect of the game you 'forget', or become accustomed to. You're constantly being reminded, each time a new character is introduced, of the incredible benefits of L.A. Noire's motionscan technology.
Yet, I'm finding that there's a strange disconnect. The writing doesn't necessarily feel as sharp as it should, and the interrogations can often feel a little strange - particularly as the protagonist Phelps launches from sympathetic 'good' cop, to ear melting 'bad' cop within the space of two seconds - depending on whether or not you click 'truth' or 'doubt'. It feels inconsistent and jarring. As someone mentioned to me on the weekend, L.A. Noire works better if you pretend that Phelps is bi-polar.
The interrogations can often feel like blind luck. L.A. Noire never really seems to provide you with a defined set of rules that aid you in conversation. There is very little to guide you in the right direction, and at others it's way too clumsy and obvious. At times you spot your own inconsistencies with the interviewee's story, but it's not the specific direction the game needs you to head in, so you fail. Again, this makes you feel disconnected from the case. So far I've never really managed to lose myself in a battle of wits the way I had hoped to in L.A. Noire. It feels like I'm constantly being reminded that this is a game, and my options are limited and restricted. The idea that one choice, or one course of action during an interview is 'correct' or 'wrong' seems at odds with the subtleties of conversation, and seems to subvert the tone L.A. Noire is shooting for.
Investigations are fun - but once again there seems to be very little game involved. L.A. Noire is often compared to old school adventure games like Police Quest, but in some ways those games actually feature more depth. Investigation in L.A. Noire really amounts to little more than a pixel hunt. There's very little deduction involved, very little detective work. You find evidence, and after a quick tilt of the analogue stick you're given the information you require. So far I've had very little chance to do any sleuthing of my own and, hence, felt very little reward.
I think it's important to note, however, that this is just my personal experience with the game so far - most people I've spoken to seem to have the opposite opinion. Have become engrossed in the story, enjoy the writing, the style, the aesthetic. I'm hoping that, as I get into the game, the story will gain momentum and propel me through the game a little more.
I had a very similar experience with Ghost Trick - a game that was in 'tutorial mode' for far too long; a game I felt I had little impact to begin with. Ghost Trick eventually turned out to be one of my favourite games of the year so far, so I'm hoping for L.A. Noire to kick in the intrigue and really engage as I continue to play.
But, for now, four hours in, it's just not quite clicking with me. I almost feel bad, mainly because L.A. Noire is ambitious, it's attempting to break new ground. I think that should be rewarded, and I'd much rather be playing L.A. Noire than another cookie cutter shooter. I guess, at the moment, I'm just feeling a little bit disappointed.
I'll leave it there - this is a community review after all! I'm really keen to see what you guys think of the game, and I'm fully expecting that everyone will disagree with my thoughts so far.
So, how are you guys enjoying L.A. Noire?