When I first saw footage of LA Noire, I focused on the driving and gunplay. Unsurprisingly, I was unimpressed with a cheap GTA rip-off (quite literal in this case). Then I found out it was actually being released by Rockstar and took a closer look. I honestly couldn’t tell whether or not it would be worth my time, since I’m not one who buys games for looking pretty.
Heavy Rain was fulfilling story-wise, keeping me hooked throughout the experience. When I decided to play LA Noire I was hoping it would turn out to be something similar in terms of story, if not gameplay. Most of the time I can see the ending of a game coming a mile away, so it’s those little surprises that really get me. Why did I remember Red Dead Redemption? Because the ending pissed me off at how realistic it was. Infamous 2 betrayed my expectations in a frankly hilarious way. Twilight Princess was bittersweet. Assassin’s Creed consistently leaves me wondering “what the fuck” at the end of each game along with its’ characters. It’s that little twist at the end, the little extra detail that really makes me remember a game.
I picked up LA Noire after a few non-gaming media sources mentioned it. It wasn’t quite like Heavy Rain, keeping me engaged in the overall story. Frankly I could predict Cole Phelps fall from grace when he got promoted twice in the first few missions. The thing that really interested me was how everything was interconnected. Between the newspaper sidestory with the doctor, to the stolen morphine being mentioned every other mission, to Cole’s precipitous career as an honest cop in a corrupt city, everything came together masterfully. It was the execution of telling the story in a variety of ways that was unique, even if the story wasn’t exactly the most mind-blowing thing ever. Then again, story is never the grandstanding selling point of Rockstar games.
Gameplay-wise, the fact that LA Noire is essentially a point-and-click game with 3rd person shooter and driving sections lends itself well to the narrative. The game is done well enough that they didn’t even really need the face-capture technology, despite how cool it is.Another reason the game was satisfying, however, was probably because the story is self-contained. All DLC is extraneous, and Rockstar felt no need to hint at a sequel. Everything about LA Noire is in the box. Excellent. As much as I love Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect, it’s a little irritating when you don’t get the whole picture after playing for over 40 hours. I just wish they’d polished the open-world aspects of the game a bit more. Frankly I got bored with exploration pretty quickly despite the novelty that is a 1947 Los Angeles.