Well, this LA Noire is just peachy. Looks amazing – the acid-etched clarity of 40s LA is dazzling. THAT facial animation has to be seen to be believed, an awesome achievement only slightly tempered by the fact that EVERY FUCKER LOOKS THE SAME. Especially the women, of whom there are precisely TWO. Still, early days, and the actual animation is mind-blowing.
The storytelling is sensationally good, as you expect. As everyone is an armchair detective, you’ll have the cases cracked in seconds, and as usual Rockstar are one step ahead of you on this and are counting on it. You know what the story is, and it’s your job to make everyone in the game tell it right. Suspect looking like they’re about to crack? You know they did it, you just need to find the right gap to wedge yourself in and blow their story wide open.
Point and click mechanics have been mentioned time and time again, with Lucasarts being a particular touchstone. Totally true, nailed it everyone. Although I’m reminded more of the Nancy Drew games – mock if you wish, but I’ve spent longer and more enjoyable afternoons chewing through Her Interactive’s breezy puzzles than I have riding a stupid fucking horse around the Mojave desert in Red Dead Redemption. Or whatever desert, I don’t really give a fuck. Still, yes, the gentle questioning, the search of each screen, the connections made opening up further questions… it’s all good, basic puzzling. This is probably Rockstar’s most approachable game since Ping Pong.
I’m only a few missions in. I’ve just unlocked free roaming, which is wonderful – not having to worry about the odd broken wing mirror or dented pedestrian showing up on the end-of-mission report sheet is a liberating experience. On the one hand, I’m enjoying being the good guy, but on the other I miss GTA’s nihilistic amorality, the feeling of being able to do anything and the only consequences are paid out in blood; not nagging from your partner, not being shown a bill for the damage, not being told you’re a failure.
Still, you can’t complain about a game as rich, beautiful and simple as LA Noire. It has your entertainment at heart. It wants to show you everything.