LA Noir

03 September 2011

Its been too long...

Where does the year go? It feels like only yesterday that I was writing about how much fun I was having on Vanquish but that was at least... 3months ago! Crikey. It was a great game. Shortly before I completed Vanquish, I bought a brand new copy of LA Noire. This was interesting for two reasons : 1. I very very rarely buy new games at full price and 2. I loved red dead redepmption so much that I just had to get another dose of some period drama with guns and wenches.

However, LA noire did not work for me, not at all. I played it, gave it as much of a go as i could, but ultimately gave up on it. Why? There were 3 reasons....

1. High Production Values, No Soul...

The whole game, or at least all of it that I played reeked of class. The voice acting was good, the plot was, at least at the start, interesting, the gameplay seemed genuinely innovative, but I was not once engaged with the characters.  I was playing the game and found myself actively wanting to skip cut scenes and, basically, didnt care about any of the characters. Compare this to my Red Dead experience, and while probably a more simplistic plot, at least the characters were interesting and, though cliched, ones I wanted to invest time in exploring. Be that Marsden and his trouble past or the sherrif or the nut job who dug up graves, Red Dead felt living and breathing - LA Noire did not.

Too often I was left feeling as if i was playing inside a scripted game - the action sequences were unexciting and unispired, the majority of the "chase" sequences dull and lacked fun and, the city, while lacking the desolate lonliness that gave Red Dead its charm, seemed there merely to serve as an "intersting place" to run around in, rather than something to be explored.

This was a big budget game, but left all its soul at the door.

 

2. It ignored its greatest strength...

I will be very short here - I LOVED the interrogations. They were genius, but by 12 hours in, they were the only thing I was playing the game for. As I said above, the restof the game, inc. the cityfelt like it was there to serve the plot rather than be interesting in its own right, and the interrogations were great but broken up by turgid chases, bumbling around "crime scenes" in place of clues and generally distracted. I dont know but i felt they were criminally underused...

3. But was it fun - or just slow and distracting...

There were a few occassions in the game when i felt i was having genuine fun (mostly interrogating people), but by and large I felt frustrated. Rarely has a game left me wishing it did a few basic things so much better. I mean, the driving is so dull, the learning curve pathetically ling and the chasing criminals soooo repetitive that I couldnt help but feel there was a great game burried in there, but I was not willing to invest the time and effort to find it.

In general, I like long and slow games - my old favourties of Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and even Metal Gear 4 have long periods of dialogue, thinking time and general "plot sagging" moments. But at least they were fun. LA Noire became a slog - the slow bits were never rewarded well enough - the fun just was not there....

Conclusions

What should have been a great game ended up being a very dull one. If only they had put as much thought into designing the overall arc of the game as teh facial animations, I cant help but feel you'd get a shorter, less linear and more entertaining game.

LA oire became the first game of the year I bought at full price, sold at half that and then Bought Portal 2. Expect a review of that soon....

Verdict : Massive let down I doubt I'd give another go to, great ideas or not.