I finally beat L.A. Noire, two years after I bought it and after getting 2/3 through it and losing my save game. It’s an amazing game and there was a lot I loved about it. I loved how it recreated 1940s Los Angeles, particularly in the interiors. I loved the story, which combined elements of Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. I loved how central returning G.I.s were to the story, and how the different characters were all woven together to form a larger story. I loved looking through homes for clues, not so much because it was super fun but because it gave me a chance to explore the carefully constructed world the designers had built.
I was less excited about the interrogation gameplay. I had a hard time figuring out the right answer, and often resorted to a walkthrough to guide me. The characters often had different tells, and it wasn’t always obvious who was lying and who wasn’t. Also, anytime you accused a character of lying they would say “you have no proof!” even though you had found proof in the room they were in minutes earlier. If you know you have damning evidence against you, why would you deny it or challenge the detective to prove it?
I also disliked the fact that you never really got a chance to explore the world they built. You can theoretically go anywhere in the world, but in practice you are always going from one case to the next. The only side missions require you to be in a cop car, which makes the hidden cars sort of useless. What’s the point of finding cool old cars if driving them penalizes you with missed chances at side quests?
I’m surprised that Rockstar never made an expansion on the L.A. Noire engine that was more GTA 1940s – one that took more advantage of the world they had already built for L.A. Noire. I would love a game where you got to find hidden jumps, help civilians, do wanted missions, and basically have a similar experience to Red Dead Redemption.
The bottom line is that it is a great game, but one that misses some opportunities to be better. It is one of the few games I’ve actually finished, and that was just because I needed to see how the story ended.