I decided to finally play this. Am I an idiot, or is this game designed terribly?

I'm leaning towards a mix of being unlucky and stupid, but here's my experience with the game:

It looks good. I like the style, and I like the facial animation stuff, of course; who doesn't? The cars control surprisingly well, although the whole "skip action sequence" thing makes me feel like I'm a huge sucker every time I opt to actually play the game. From what I've played (not much), I like the main character's really uptight asshole demeanor and I'm interested in seeing how his personal story develops. It's not the longest list, but those are the bulk of things I like about it so far, and in theory those things could keep me playing a game to completion. But hey we're not here to talk about positive things.

Let's get into the thing the internet was made for: my problems with the game. I go on my first real murder investigation. I gather some clues from the crime scene, then I talk to a store clerk lady. Thanks to an incredibly annoying in-your-face tutorial (by the way, do those remaining 'help' messages ever go away?), I pass that interrogation with flying colors. But now I've gotta find the murderer at a jewelry store, and most of the training wheels are coming off. No problem, I got this. I chase the dude down and bring him to the station for questioning. Mr. Murderer wants me to prove my allegations, which is kinda weird, him being the suspect and all, but I go along with it. I offer up what I think is a good piece of evidence, and the game makes a noise, and the perp contorts his face and says something out-of-context to the effect of "incorrect answer, player." Then Phelps puts a little 'x' on that bullet point. Wait! Phelps! Dude! We can try again, man! Fuck. So, naturally, this being a game and all, I quit and restart. After sitting through the entire cutscene again I get to the question and fail, yet again. Third time's a charm, and finally I nail the interrogation and my boss is super psyched. No more blue uniform.

So to keep things shorter, I'll say that about the same thing happened for the next case when I went to the victim's wife's house to ask her questions. After restarting three times and still fucking something (no idea what I could have done differently) up in the interrogation, I just said "okay, I'm playing this game wrong. You're supposed to roll with the consequences." So from that point on I did just that. I did alright on the wife's convo, but when I went to her accomplice I failed every single bullet point. Didn't matter, I guess, as my boss said I did a bang-up job.

Next case (my final case): Some "kids" stole a diplomat's car or something. I walk around the crime scene trying to find every little piece of evidence, then talk to an old man who witnessed the commotion. I realize he's lying to me since I have to stop playing and belly-laugh for about two minutes at the fucking hilarious faces this guy is making. He does this twice, and -- since my version of Cole Phelps is apparently entirely incompetent -- I get both of them wrong. I also accuse him of telling the truth when he wasn't, so fail every single bullet point. No idea what I did wrong, or how I could have known otherwise.

I think I finish the scene, then go to check out the dealership the car was rented from. No surprises here: I find "all" the clues, do the stupid minigame, then talk to the owner and fail every bullet point. I'm feeling pretty good right about now. Not at all frustrated. I see a worker detailing a car right next to me and get in it, trample over a curb, and smash into traffic. Feeling a little better now. I get back in my squad car.

"We should probably get back to the empty lot, Cole." Wait, what? I finished that lot. You told me to come here. Since it's not on the notebook anymore, I assume it's a minor glitch, and proceed to the station to interview the diplomat. Hey, guess what? I fail every bullet point. Now I head to the main subject's house. After scouring for every clue I can, I talk to his wife. Fail every bullet point. "Hey Cole, we should head back to the empty lot." Ohhh, okay, so I did forget something. Well, I head back and spend about ten minutes trying to find whatever it is my omniscient partner seems to think I've forgotten. Can't find it. "Hey Cole, there's no way we're done with the subject's house. Let's get back there." What? What?! Dude, make up your mind. So I go there, find nothing, and am currently left with no idea what to do. I have 3 potential places to go to, each with a possible hidden gem of evidence, and no idea where to start.

I want to enjoy this game, or, at the very least, I want to experience the work that was put into the game. But I can't. I could walk around forever, bouncing between 3 locations, trying to find the magic piece of evidence like some mid-'90s adventure game, but I'm not doing that. No fucking way. I might restart the whole case sometime in the future, but for now I'm done. This game, at least in my eyes, is goddamn fucking terribly designed. It has potential, and gumption... or whatever, but the fundamental game design part of it just isn't good at all.

tl;dr: I fail every single interrogation and the checkpoints are terrible, and you can't skip the cutscenes. There's no leniency at all on what items you choose to "prove" your claims, and it requires the player to know exactly what the game designers were thinking. Worst of all, I'm stuck running between 3 different locations looking for a magic piece (pieces?) of evidence that will advance the story, but have no idea where to start.

Terrible, frustrating design. Or not? Tell me what I'm doing wrong.

48 Comments
48 Comments Refresh
Posted by Jaytow

You're an idiot.

Posted by Cameron

The game part is not the good part. Just use a walkthrough. The story and setting are interesting and the game looked really good when it came out, that was the appeal for me. The actual investigation parts were a huge letdown.

Posted by Brodehouse

I dunno dude. If you're failing every bullet point, I think your contributions should perhaps be viewed with a critical eye.

Posted by Karkarov

Jaytow is being overly critical. I am curious how you botched "everything" exactly I seem to think I only actually failed like 1-2 cases for the whole game, and yes I took what I got. You just have to realize it is a game and play it that way, it isn't real life where you can pull all evidence, you only get one piece to use and you have to use only what counters exactly what the perp is challenging you on. That said yes, the game has a ton of logical WTF?!?!?!? moments and as a game isn't that hot. It does have gumpshion but it isn't a great product.

Posted by Claude

At first, I thought, this is cool. But I too failed at reading people's faces and getting the job done. When I found myself going to gamefaqs over and over because I hated being wrong all the time, I decided this game wasn't for me and quit.

Posted by me3639
@cameron said:

The game part is not the good part. Just use a walkthrough. The story and setting are interesting and the game looked really good when it came out, that was the appeal for me. The actual investigation parts were a huge letdown.

Sorry to say, but i agree. The investigations, gathering evidence, should make the interrogations easier, but the answers and facial expressions all borderlined to more questions. I think its a really good game with strong sense of atmosphere, but it struggles with an identity of police simulation/ interactive movie/ click and point adventure. Probably the best voice acting in any game this generation and the story is actually pretty strong. A lot of good ideas that maybe will be revisited. I could go for an investigation in space, ala Outland(w/Sean Connery) that would be sooo good.

Posted by Nekroskop

I played through the entire game calling everyone a liar. It was amazing.

Posted by development

I dunno dude. If you're failing every bullet point, I think your contributions should perhaps be viewed with a critical eye.

That's what I'm trying to do. I even used up my two intuition points but figure I'm just super unlucky. I'm trying to read their ridiculous facial expressions and still seem to get "truths" wrong when their faces are just stone-cold normal. Don't know what's up. My best guess is I'm just not finding all the evidence, even though I'm walking around forever. That, and a dose of pretty unlucky guessing.

Edited by fodigga

It seems like you lack the perception to be a true detective.

I played through the game, and sure there were times when I messed up on some evidence or interrogation but for the most part I was able to figure out what the game was trying to get out of me.

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Posted by development

@karkarov: Well, I didn't actually fail a case yet. I'm sure I will if I continue, but as of right now I'm just hanging out with literally every bullet point in this case being 'x'-d out and no idea where to go. Yep, I don't know what else to say, but literally "every" bullet point this case I have failed. I figure I'm hitting "lie" when they're bluffing, and I'm hitting "doubt" when they're lying. It's too early in the game for me to know if there's a difference in their facial expressions when they're 'lying' or 'bluffing' (for 'truths' it's obvious). The worst part is that I have no idea where I'm even supposed to go now.

Maybe I'll drive down to the beach and see if their recreation of Santa Monica is at all accurate. After that maybe I'll grab a walkthrough like @cameron suggests. Still, though: bad, bad game design.

Edited by development

@fodigga: How do I raise my perception?

Posted by ch3burashka
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Posted by fodigga
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Posted by development

@ch3burashka: Sorry, I forgot about that. But what do I do with all these chakras?

Posted by BRich

I think I missed a couple bullet points in the entire game. Maybe get tested by a psychologist?

Edited by Karkarov

@development: This is how it works, when you know they are lying but you can't "conclusively prove it" you use doubt. When they say something that is a lie either because you have evidence proving it or earlier in the conversation they gave contradictory information you use lying. If you don't think they are lying obviously you use truth.

Posted by Evilsbane

@claude said:

At first, I thought, this is cool. But I too failed at reading people's faces and getting the job done. When I found myself going to gamefaqs over and over because I hated being wrong all the time, I decided this game wasn't for me and quit.

Same here, I love so much about it but I want to get the right answers I want things to play out the best way possible I can't help it, I am a completionist.

Edited by Kidavenger

I just noticed the box art reading this, Who the hell is the woman on the box? kind of funny, doesn't seem to have anything to do with the game at all and she takes up a huge portion of the cover art.

I liked this game, but the interrogations were not very good, I seemed to be maybe 50-60% right during questioning which puts it squarely in dumb luck territory to me. Also, the driving was fine, but fuck the AI drivers on the road, worst traffic simulation I've ever played.

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Edited by SpunkyHePanda

One of the big flaws of the game is that these are just actors you're interrogating. No matter how convincing they are, there's a fundamental difference between lying and "lying."

Posted by RonGalaxy

It's mostly fine. The shooting is pretty fucking bad though, good thing there isnt too much of it. My opinion is that it's good, but then it falls flat on its face the last 1/4-1/3 of the game. And the ending it horrible.

Posted by Superkenon

@development: This game has some funny logic in spots, but it's not that bad. I was able to deduce my way to correct answers probably 80% of the time, and a lot of the ones I got wrong I would chalk up to user error, too.I messed up some cases pretty bad, but I didn't ever restart -- I just rolled with it.

One of the more interesting parts of the game is how it doesn't seem to have a fail-state, aside from the action sequences. The case scenarios kinda bend and branch depending on your actions, so I really think it's best to stick to the decisions you've made and let the story unfold by way of your consequences.

I think I would've hated my time with the game if I was worried about getting a "high score". If you want to enjoy the story, enjoy the story. It'll play out one way or another, so own it and surge forth! Make it yours! Be proud of your bumbling detective!

Your situation with the evidence-search is an odd one, though. I don't remember anything like that happening to me. I felt like the game was pretty good about letting me know if I had found everything at a given location, so I was never just groping around blindly. Maybe you did find a horrible bug? If you run into something like this again, it might be worth looking at a guide. I wouldn't recommend that for interrogations though. If you remove the suspense from those sequences and just turn it into a "PRESS X, X, Y, X, Y TO WIN" thing, it seems like it'd be pointless.

Or not. Enjoy those thoughtless typings!!

Posted by Sooty

Nope you're not wrong. It plays like utter shit.

Posted by development

there's a fundamental difference between lying and "lying."

I'm actually interested in playing more just to see more ridiculous faces.

Posted by UngratefulDead

Not to defend LA Noire, but I think you're doing something very fundamentally wrong if you're getting EVERY single interrogation point wrong.

Posted by Demoskinos

@development: Yout problem here is your restarting. Don't. It will drive you mad and ruin the game. Go with thr flow and let your decisions be your decisions.

Posted by mlarrabee

It is an adventure game, but without a fail state. Make your choices, live with the consequences, but above all, remember that these are actors pretending to lie. You may be able to read facial expressions in real life, but in the game you have to work through two layers of reality.

Unless you're the greatest human behaviorist ever, you're going to misread faces occasionally, and unless you're an excellent logician, you're going to pick the wrong evidence sometimes. If you're picking the wrong answer every time, then...

Posted by Commander_Crichton

Usually it's pretty obvious when a suspect is telling the truth: their eyes don't dart around and they don't make silly uncomfortable looking expressions. The real issue for me was figuring out when to pick "doubt" or "lie". If you're really unsure of which one to pick then you should go with "lie", hear Cole out, what exactly is he looking to prove, see if you have the evidence to prove said thing, and if you don't, then just back out of the accusation and go with "doubt". If you're really unsure what to choose then just put some of those intuition points into asking the community for the correct answer. As for evidence collecting, just keep looking for evidence until the music stops playing, which means you've found all there is to find.

Posted by Xeiphyer

I failed for a while before I understood what exactly the game was trying to tell me and was asking me for. It gets easier as the game gets harder, ironically.

Edited by development

@demoskinos: Not to be a dick, but if you're interested in reading my full post you'll see I go into that. I fairly quickly opted to stop restarting, and that may or may not have been my downfall.

Posted by LawGamer

The best piece of advice I can give is to ignore what the game tells you about the facial expressions almost entirely, since outside the tutorial cases the advice doesn't really apply. In real life, eye contact actually is actually a pretty poor indicator of truth telling anyway.You are far, far better off looking at the evidence, coming up with a theory about what's going on, and then asking "does this response logically fit the evidence I have?"

For example, in the 2nd/3rd? case on the traffic desk you need to interview the girl who had been sexually assaulted. When I first played through the game, the girl was refusing to make eye contact when answering my questions. Remembering what the game told me about eye contact, I immediately assumed she was lying and tried to use either "Lie" or "Doubt." Well, Cole does his whole psychotic Lt. Kaffee thing, the girl starts crying and I get the questions wrong.

When I went back and replayed that part of the case, I realized I was thinking about it wrong; nothing the girl was really saying was all that far outside of what the evidence told me had happened. And in real life, sexual assault victims often have difficultly making eye contact when interviewed, since they feel embarrassed or ashamed about what happened. How the whole scene was being portrayed was actually not that far off from how it might go down in real life, and by treating the girl as though she actually existed and had real human reactions I did much better at getting the questions right.

Posted by development

@lawgamer said:

Well, Cole does his whole psychotic Lt. Kaffee thing, the girl starts crying and I get the questions wrong.

Holy shit! I literally laughed out loud. That sounds horrible! I'll make sure to get that one right if I continue.

Edited by Marokai

As someone who ended up not caring for the game very much and feeling very disappointed after I was persuaded into buying it off the back of the short-lived critical acclaim it received, I found the best way to get enjoyment out of the game is to basically ignore every tutorial it gives you, stop worrying about getting high scores, and accuse everyone of lying all the time like a complete psychopath. If memory serves, you could basically rig much of the conversations, since accusing someone of lying usually gets them to respond with some variation of "Well how can you prove I was lying!" and you can back out if you don't have the weirdly specific evidence it can require.

But yeah, the game part isn't very good. It's very pretty, expertly crafted, the facial animations are really something special, but LA Noire can often feel like an interactive tech demo. The story is needlessly cliche (adhering to a lot of dumb noire tropes just for fun) and doesn't make much sense by the end, either, to add insult to injury. Though, it being very pretty and a fairly easy ride, it didn't shock me how it became such a critical hit. LA Noire is the game that finally convinced me of how useless rave reviews often are.

Posted by development

@marokai: Yeah, I was pretty surprised to see Brad gave this game 5 stars with how incredibly flawed it is... and with how bad at games he is.

Posted by 49th

Don't ever restart. Just play for the story, you'll make mistakes like a real person would but you still always progress through the story.

You might not even know if you've charged the correct person but that's based on the choices you made and you should accept that.

Posted by brownsfantb

I really hated that the game would make it so obvious when you got something "wrong." The perfectionist in me would get so frustrated and I just couldn't keep going knowing I made a mistake that I could go back and fix. I would have enjoyed the game so much more if they had designed it without "right" and "wrong" decisions and just having branching story paths based on what you do. I had a lot of problems with Heavy Rain but that game handled these kinds of situations way better.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@49th said:

Don't ever restart. Just play for the story, you'll make mistakes like a real person would but you still always progress through the story.

You might not even know if you've charged the correct person but that's based on the choices you made and you should accept that.

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Posted by MidNVis

This game was cool because it was different and had cool tech in it. I'd never play it again, but it was worth playing once.

Posted by development

I really hated that the game would make it so obvious when you got something "wrong." The perfectionist in me would get so frustrated and I just couldn't keep going knowing I made a mistake that I could go back and fix. I would have enjoyed the game so much more if they had designed it without "right" and "wrong" decisions and just having branching story paths based on what you do. I had a lot of problems with Heavy Rain but that game handled these kinds of situations way better.

Have you played Beyond? I haven't, but Patrick linked to a good article in Worth Reading that made it sound like the way it handles its decisions might be exactly the kind of thing you're looking for, regardless of how good its actual story is.

Edited by GERALTITUDE

Some of what you talked about is true, but I don't feel as strongly about it, that's for sure.

Found the game easy most of the time, but it was lame how specific the evidence path was.. I wish there had been some kind of "put the case together" hub rather than the way the game pushes you forward through the case. The story is pretty cool though and it looks awesome - the faces are amazing, but the body animation isn't so great, so if they've improved on that, their next game (if it ever comes out) could be cool.

Posted by OurSin_360

I'm not going to call anybody an idiot, but if your not good at deductive reasoning and reading facial queues (especially the over exaggerated ones in the beggining) this game is probably just not for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and what they do with phelps story was really good IMO, but once you play it there really isn't any replay value.

Edited by development

@oursin_360: That wasn't the problem at all. It's ridiculously obvious when a person is lying, but I couldn't tell when to say "doubt" or "lie." And at least once when I said "truth" while they were completely stone-faced I got the notebook entry wrong. It just seems inconsistent. I also didn't know that you could back out of the "lie" section after you hear their response. I thought once you clicked any option you were committed to it.

Posted by Fredchuckdave

@nekroskop: Yeah, there's no reason not to screw with people as much as possible for the humor. LA Noire is a solid game, about as good as it could be under the circumstances.

Edited by Jaytow

@karkarov: I'll be honest, I read the title and took my chance. I didn't even read it.

Posted by Marcsman

The game sucks. I failed every interrogation too.

Posted by VoshiNova

La Noire (La-nor-ei) had so many great pieces, but those pieces were so out of place that it was impossible to appreciate while playing.

But looking back it was a fun experience, the music, the characters, and the city.

Posted by CrimsonHigh

I remember reading somewhere that the Truth, Doubt, and Lie options were originally Coax, Force, and Lie with coax being a soft encouragement to draw the truth while force was a more aggressive method to draw out the truth/call out BS. However Team Bondi never redid the dialog to reflect the change, hence the reason Phelps goes ballistic whenever you choose doubt.

Here's the eurogamer link where it's mentioned. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-11-15-l-a-forensic-brendan-mcnamara-on-l-a-noire-interview

If you want to continue to play the game, try thinking about the original Coax, Force, Lie design and see if it helps.

Posted by Nasar7

I usually got 80% of the bullet points right, and eventually got the trophy for a perfect case on my own. I don't know man, maybe you're overthinking it? Just go with your gut.

Edited by laserguy

The game was a great Idea gone bad. Poor design. I bought the DLC, excited to keep going and never touched it. When I look over my 360 game list it sits there taunting me from June 2010.