Why I think L.A Noire is not worthy of the praise.

I have decided after much deliberation with myself that I have a problem with all the praise L.A Noire is getting, I don't think it's fully justified. 
 
Let me start by saying I don't think L.A Noire is a game. I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between. 
 
In all of the reviews I've read, the game has received almost faultless praise and admiration. I think a lot of this comes down to the faces, yes, they're very good. Yes they're the best in any game so far (Except Phelps. Phelps' actor is too blinky and his mouth is funny) but does that mean the rest of the game should be ignored or let off for being slightly mediocre? No. 
The driving sequences are essentially filler between cases, unless you let your partner drive, in which case, the game is one big cutscene. Ofcourse, you're a cop so you have to drive reasonably sensibly and if you don't? The weird driving physics make you want to drive properly. I managed to jump a police car over a cliff and across the mouth of a tunnel, land it and carry on driving, the driving feels very stiff. I understand the game isn't meant to be a driving game, but when your game is 25% walking around looking for clues, 25% questioning people, 25% interrogating people and 25% driving around to cases, you better make sure it's somewhat entertaining. I guess the random street crimes help matters, maybe that's sort of why they're in there, but they soon become repetitive. Especially when most of them end up with a stiff being loaded into the back of a black ambulance. Whenever I see that cutscene I chuckle because Phelps looks as disappointed as I feel. On a side note, anyone else feel Phelps is a total kiss ass? It kind of grinds my gears.
 
When I got into my first crime scene I stumbled around and messed up a lot of things because I wasn't doing it the 'right' way. I felt angry about this because I was forgetting it was a game, I wanted to do things the way I would do them. I found this especially problematic when questioning that first woman. (Anyone else think all the women in L.A Noire look almost identical?) I didn't like the way I would press Doubt for instance and then Phelps would jump on the poor woman and exclaim she was the murderer or something. It felt wrong, I ended up failing that questioning and she refused to talk to me again, just because Phelps pounced on her with a bit of a blunt statement. 
 
I understand, by the way, before you tell me "That's your fault for not doing it right" that it is my fault. As a human, I wanted to explore the questioning my own way, not the way the game dictates. I can understand they had to stop somewhere, but I still feel the questioning and interrogations could have had a few more paths, or a deeper tree of questioning because there should be no right or wrong. I was wrong. This is more of a game than I ever imagined. In the sense that you're forced to play it a certain way at least. 
 
I think I'll stop there, I've shared most of my thoughts about the shortcomings of the game. Here's the important sentence: Don't get me wrong, I love L.A Noire, the story telling is fantastic and it's essentially CSI: 1940s which is great, I just felt that not enough had been said about some of the negative parts of the game. Please don't burn me. 
 
EDIT: I have just read Slaker117's review of L.A Noire and I can say he certainly explains my feelings a lot more in depth than I could be bothered to. 

43 Comments
44 Comments
Edited by RiotBananas

I have decided after much deliberation with myself that I have a problem with all the praise L.A Noire is getting, I don't think it's fully justified. 
 
Let me start by saying I don't think L.A Noire is a game. I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between. 
 
In all of the reviews I've read, the game has received almost faultless praise and admiration. I think a lot of this comes down to the faces, yes, they're very good. Yes they're the best in any game so far (Except Phelps. Phelps' actor is too blinky and his mouth is funny) but does that mean the rest of the game should be ignored or let off for being slightly mediocre? No. 
The driving sequences are essentially filler between cases, unless you let your partner drive, in which case, the game is one big cutscene. Ofcourse, you're a cop so you have to drive reasonably sensibly and if you don't? The weird driving physics make you want to drive properly. I managed to jump a police car over a cliff and across the mouth of a tunnel, land it and carry on driving, the driving feels very stiff. I understand the game isn't meant to be a driving game, but when your game is 25% walking around looking for clues, 25% questioning people, 25% interrogating people and 25% driving around to cases, you better make sure it's somewhat entertaining. I guess the random street crimes help matters, maybe that's sort of why they're in there, but they soon become repetitive. Especially when most of them end up with a stiff being loaded into the back of a black ambulance. Whenever I see that cutscene I chuckle because Phelps looks as disappointed as I feel. On a side note, anyone else feel Phelps is a total kiss ass? It kind of grinds my gears.
 
When I got into my first crime scene I stumbled around and messed up a lot of things because I wasn't doing it the 'right' way. I felt angry about this because I was forgetting it was a game, I wanted to do things the way I would do them. I found this especially problematic when questioning that first woman. (Anyone else think all the women in L.A Noire look almost identical?) I didn't like the way I would press Doubt for instance and then Phelps would jump on the poor woman and exclaim she was the murderer or something. It felt wrong, I ended up failing that questioning and she refused to talk to me again, just because Phelps pounced on her with a bit of a blunt statement. 
 
I understand, by the way, before you tell me "That's your fault for not doing it right" that it is my fault. As a human, I wanted to explore the questioning my own way, not the way the game dictates. I can understand they had to stop somewhere, but I still feel the questioning and interrogations could have had a few more paths, or a deeper tree of questioning because there should be no right or wrong. I was wrong. This is more of a game than I ever imagined. In the sense that you're forced to play it a certain way at least. 
 
I think I'll stop there, I've shared most of my thoughts about the shortcomings of the game. Here's the important sentence: Don't get me wrong, I love L.A Noire, the story telling is fantastic and it's essentially CSI: 1940s which is great, I just felt that not enough had been said about some of the negative parts of the game. Please don't burn me. 
 
EDIT: I have just read Slaker117's review of L.A Noire and I can say he certainly explains my feelings a lot more in depth than I could be bothered to. 

Posted by swamplord666

didn't read most of your post but so far, it's worthy of praise since although there are a couple of minor problems here and there, i'm enjoying it immensely and it offers something different from a lot of games these days.

Posted by sodapop7

Why should there be no right or wrong?  It works the way it does in real life where if you assume certain things you're not going to get full information.  The good part is that you still have a chance to solve the case but you may not end up with the right person, which I think adds a lot of weight to the interrogations.    
 
The bottom line is most of the things you bring up seem like nitpicking to me.  The overall experience is fantastic which is basically what you said at the end so why are reviewers so wrong for sharing the same feeling?  Funny thing is if all these things were mentioned there'd be threads complaining how harsh people reviewed it.  I guess there's no way to please everybody.

Posted by GreggD

Mediocre? You trippin'.

Posted by RiotBananas
@sodapop7 said:
Why should there be no right or wrong?  It works the way it does in real life where if you assume certain things you're not going to get full information.  The good part is that you still have a chance to solve the case but you may not end up with the right person, which I think adds a lot of weight to the interrogations.     The bottom line is most of the things you bring up seem like nitpicking to me.  The overall experience is fantastic which is basically what you said at the end so why are reviewers so wrong for sharing the same feeling?  Funny thing is if all these things were mentioned there'd be threads complaining how harsh people reviewed it.  I guess there's no way to please everybody.
If the fact that I felt the game is more of an interactive cutscene is nitpicking then, whatever. These are just my views. I feel like the game is too restricted by today's technology.
Edited by Yummylee

The interrogations are pretty shallow, and the game definitely begins to repetitive, but I'm still enjoying it a lot and it has some brilliance in here if just for making the first step of what could definitely be something fantastic. I remember some saying this could be like the original Assassins Creed of a franchise and I think that's a solid prediction. 
 
L.A Noire on its own I still really like. The cases themselves are all fairly varied, and it's kind of exciting when you're given your next case and you're off to see how the victim was killed, where, when; and it's always entertaining thanks to the stellar voice acting. The investigations are too simple as well. It goes to surprising lengths to let you know ''yo, das not relevant to the case!'' since Cole outright tells you. Plus when you pick up the right item it gives you a chime and then (for me) more or less always gave me that notice up top telling me ''some items can be examined further'' or ''move around the item until you feel the vibration''. The last one was a paraphrase but it was the jist. 
 
But even with how simplified it is, and with how it almost practically pulls you by the hand through it all, I'm still having a lot of fun. Again, the environments are always exciting to look forward to because of the amazing detail, and, of course, the voice acting and the faces are of an incredible quality. It's a pretty easy going game (which is not how most wanted it to turn out, including me admittedly) and one I find to love just driving around and going along with the story, because the production values are that good.

Posted by Dagbiker

If your looking for GTA 5, this is not that game, but if your looking for a great story this is a great game. and i disagree with you about you thinking this is not a game. do you change the story, no, but you do get a score. so if your telling me that Super Mario, or other games that give you scores as opposed to story changing devices are not games then i guess your right.

Posted by Video_Game_King

*sigh* You went through with that bad idea. I wish I could comment on anything in this blog, but I haven't played L.A. Noire, so I'm not at all qualified to talk about it.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

LA Noire is most definitely a game. 

Moderator
Posted by RiotBananas
@Video_Game_King said:
*sigh* You went through with that bad idea. I wish I could comment on anything in this blog, but I haven't played L.A. Noire, so I'm not at all qualified to talk about it.
Nah this is seperate to that idea. I've just been thinking about how no one has mentioned these thoughts whilst playing. I know I'm not the only one who thinks the reviews and praise are based on the faces and adult story. 
Posted by Leafhopper

Well everyone is inclined to their opinion. I havent played it yet but I guess you just dont like it.

Edited by SoldierG654342

I haven't played it myself, but I suspect that a lot of the prise the game is getting comes from the fact that it's trying something different. Being different isn't a virtue in itself, but if the game tries something different and succeeds, the it deserves to be praised.  
 
Much like film criticism, games are starting to be criticized on a curve. 

Edited by ShaneDev

Everything I didn't like about the game initially like the odd driving, basically automated chases and stiff shooting I quickly adjusted to. I enjoy those parts but the meat of the game is the interviews and case solving. On these it took me a while to get use to the three options for interviews. Once I got the hang of it, twas great. These are very well done in my opinion and exactly what I wanted form the game going in. 
 

 I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between. 

I don't see how this is different to most games on the market. In fact I could probably use this to describe every cinematic game of the last ten years.
Posted by sodapop7

You spend your entire last paragraph saying all the stuff that is so enjoyable which is basically the whole game so yes it is nitpicking especially if it took so much deliberation to come up with these problems.   
 
What exactly would have made it a "game"?  What do you think of other adventure games?  Those are essentially the same thing you're describing, but I don't see how that makes it not a game.

Posted by Slaker117
@RiotBananas said:
@Video_Game_King said:
*sigh* You went through with that bad idea. I wish I could comment on anything in this blog, but I haven't played L.A. Noire, so I'm not at all qualified to talk about it.
Nah this is seperate to that idea. I've just been thinking about how no one has mentioned these thoughts whilst playing. I know I'm not the only one who thinks the reviews and praise are based on the faces and adult story. 
*cough* *cough*
Posted by Video_Game_King
@RiotBananas said:
adult story
That's still a valid point to be made in reviews? Didn't that stop being novel in 1994?
Posted by RiotBananas
@Abyssfull said:
The interrogations are pretty shallow, and the game definitely begins to repetitive, but I'm still enjoying it a lot and it has some brilliance in here if just for making the first step of what could definitely be something fantastic. I remember some saying this could be like the original Assassins Creed of a franchise and I think that's a solid prediction. 
 
L.A Noire on its own I still really like. The cases themselves are all fairly varied, and it's kind of exciting when you're given your next case and you're off to see how the victim was killed, where, when; and it's always entertaining thanks to the stellar voice acting. The investigations are too simple as well. It goes to surprising lengths to let you know ''yo, das not relevant to the case!'' since Cole outright tells you. Plus when you pick up the right item it gives you a chime and then (for me) more or less always gave me that notice up top telling me ''some items can be examined further'' or ''move around the item until you feel the vibration''. The last one was a paraphrase but it was the jist. 
 
But even with how simplified it is, and with how it almost practically pulls you by the hand through it all, I'm still having a lot of fun. Again, the environments are always exciting to look forward to because of the amazing detail, and, of course, the voice acting and the faces are of an incredible quality. It's a pretty easy going game (which is not how most wanted it to turn out, including me admittedly) and one I find to love just driving around and going along with the story, because the production values are that good.
The Assassins Creed 1 analogy is a perfect one.  
 
I feel that if there is an L.A Noire sequel it will be perfect.
Posted by RiotBananas
@Slaker117: Yeah, your review is actually my exact thoughts. Especially: 
 

As a piece of interactive fiction, LA Noire is still probably the best you can find today. If that's what you want, fine. But as a good game, something with solid mechanics that work together to make an interesting play experience, LA Noire is a failure. It is shallow, repetitive and unsatisfying. The trappings are there, an interesting setup, but I can not recommend this to people who wanted a well executed adventure game.

Edited by JasonR86

It hasn't been universally acclaimed as perfect everywhere.  For example, Matt Helgeson at Gameinformer gave it an 8.75.  He essentially said that the story, atmosphere and everything else ancillary to the actual gameplay was great.  But that the gameplay itself had its problems.   
 
I think it is fair to say some reviewer's perceptions of the game have been tainted by their love of the game's technology.  But, to be fair, the technology plays a key role in the gameplay experience.  Despite the problems the OP had with the interrogations it can't be understated just how much the facial animations add to that mechanic.  Further, though technology doesn't make a game it is a big part whether we like it or not.  I believe it is fair to say that the technology alone makes this game a fun experience.  And it is not as if the gameplay is terrible.  It is serviceable.
 
I think when people look at the reviews for this game, or any other game, people should read the content of the review and not just the final score.  Most of the reviews I've read have commented on the gameplay issues.  Some might not but I would argue that the majority of reviewers have commented on this game's weaknesses.

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Posted by Slaker117
@RiotBananas: Thanks. :)
Posted by Positrark
@RiotBananas said:  

Let me start by saying I don't think L.A Noire is a game. I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between.  

 Calling it not a game sort of invalidates your entire argument just because it's such a nonsensical statement.
 
 

Posted by RiotBananas
@Positrark said:
@RiotBananas said:  

Let me start by saying I don't think L.A Noire is a game. I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between.  

 Calling it not a game sort of invalidates your entire argument just because it's such a nonsensical statement.
 
 

If you read the entire blog I actually say it's more of a game than I imagined. The gameplay is almost non existent. That's what I meant. 
Posted by MikkaQ

People's ideas for what a game should be are too complicated. LA Noire is very damn much a game. 

Online
Posted by Landon
@XII_Sniper said:
People's ideas for what a game should be are too complicated. LA Noire is very damn much a game. 
It's a game because it can only be played on a game system. Which I think is fair enough.
Posted by Bloodgraiv3

I understand where you're coming from on a lot of your points with L.A Noire but I disagree with almost all of them, Coles face seems perfect, the driving is the best in any open world i've played, and its just a damn fun world to play, I don't think it needed to be an open world game but i'm glad that it's there, calling it not a game based on what you've said could also apply to nearly every other adventure game out there. 
Posted by MikkaQ
@Landon said:
@XII_Sniper said:
People's ideas for what a game should be are too complicated. LA Noire is very damn much a game. 
It's a game because it can only be played on a game system. Which I think is fair enough.
Also the fact that there's... y'know  gameplay. You drive around, you shoot criminals, you find clues, and interview people. It feels like separate mini-games, but more cohesively put together. 
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Posted by JasonR86

Can someone explain to me what the 'it's not a game' thing even means?  What are the qualifications of a game?  Is a video game not a media format something that is controlled by a player?  Wouldn't that mean L.A. Noire f'ing qualifies?  The whole thing sounds pretentious as all hell.

Online
Posted by Bloodgraiv3
@JasonR86 said:
Can someone explain to me what the 'it's not a game' thing even means?  What are the qualifications of a game?  Is a video game not a media format something that is controlled by a player?  Wouldn't that mean L.A. Noire f'ing qualifies?  The whole thing sounds pretentious as all hell.

I think it was meant as there was more watching than playing. 
Considering the driving is optional. 
Edited by JJWeatherman
@RiotBananas said:

@Slaker117: Yeah, your review is actually my exact thoughts. Especially: 
 

As a piece of interactive fiction, LA Noire is still probably the best you can find today. If that's what you want, fine. But as a good game, something with solid mechanics that work together to make an interesting play experience, LA Noire is a failure. It is shallow, repetitive and unsatisfying. The trappings are there, an interesting setup, but I can not recommend this to people who wanted a well executed adventure game.

I haven't read the review, but that section would only be accurate if it said "Action-adventure game" and not just adventure game. Are the Monkey Island series bad adventure games because all you do is click around and talk to people? Of course not. 
 
And btw, I don't exactly agree with the OP due to the same point. How can you call this an interactive cutscene and not a game? Seems like you're saying that adventure games aren't real games, which is ridiculous.
Posted by JasonR86
@Bloodgraiv3 said:
@JasonR86 said:
Can someone explain to me what the 'it's not a game' thing even means?  What are the qualifications of a game?  Is a video game not a media format something that is controlled by a player?  Wouldn't that mean L.A. Noire f'ing qualifies?  The whole thing sounds pretentious as all hell.
I think it was meant as there was more watching than playing. Considering the driving is optional. 
I guess I just find the argument irritating and pretentious.  Let alone the fact that I find the rationale ridiculous.  We as gamers bitch and moan when Fox News or any other outlet picks on our medium of choice but then we want to set up exclusive qualifiers where only certain games are allowed to fit in to our 'club'.  It's silly to me. 
Online
Edited by Slaker117
@JJWeatherman: My review is about how I don't think LA Noire was a very good game, not because it's too "clicky" but because what you do with adventure game concepts doesn't lead to anything interesting. Pretty much, I thought the "puzzles" were shallow and just kind of there to be walked through, offering no logical challenge.
Posted by Selftest

I'll qualify my statement with this; I haven't played L.A Noir, but I've watched a lot of video. Take that for what it's worth. 
 
It looks like an adventure game. There are only so many ways to do an adventure game. Think of it like this: If this were 1996, L.A Noir would be a text-based adventure game with small rendered scenes, with text like "The suspects eyes dart around the room as you interrogate him. His brow furrows, his hands can't stop moving. He looks like a liar. How do you proceed?" and then you'd type "Doubt" and the interaction would start. 
  
 
I think you have to take the whole game (setting, time period, overall "attitude" of the world) in to see why certain things happen the way they do. This is a Pulp world. That's the way cops act in Pulp and detective fiction. It's either "You're a lying scoundrel, ya see?" or "I know you did it, now give us a confession." That's the way the game is meant to be played, because that's the world you're in. 
 
The game gets high praise because the folks praising it think the game deserves that high praise. Nothing wrong with that. If you have a different opinion, that's great too. But I think you have to look at WHY the game has received so much praise. That facial animation looks GREAT. The story seems interesting. It's nice to see a big budget game that ISN'T MW3 or GoW3 or ME3 or whatever else. Team Bandi and Rockstar set out to change the face (see what I did there?) of gaming, and most reviewers feel they did an apt job of showing off that tech.

Posted by CL60

Yawn.. another one of these.. People praise it because they love it, you don't, get over it. If you don't like it say that, but don't say it doesn't deserve the praise. 

Posted by RiotBananas
@CL60
Yawn.. another one of these.. People praise it because they love it, you don't, get over it. If you don't like it say that, but don't say it doesn't deserve the praise. 
Actually I really liked it as a cinematic experience where my hand was held through the entire thing, I didn't enjoy it as a game.

That's basically what I'm saying.
Posted by Afroman269

It's worthy of the praise and the potential in a sequel can be pretty high. It does feel a bit like like how Assassin's Creed 1 and the analogies to that game are spot on and I'm looking forward to a more fleshed out sequel to L.A Noire.....if that ever happens. 

Posted by Greigo
@RiotBananas said:
@Positrark said:
@RiotBananas said:  

Let me start by saying I don't think L.A Noire is a game. I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between.  

 Calling it not a game sort of invalidates your entire argument just because it's such a nonsensical statement.
 
 

If you read the entire blog I actually say it's more of a game than I imagined. The gameplay is almost non existent. That's what I meant. 
The gameplay exists it just plays in a different way, With a set of rules that I personally found easy to understand and follow. I would much rather play LA Noire's style of adventuring than the old school text based adventures back in the day, when you could die instantly from a completely random unseen threat. (Go east , you go east fall down a deep well and die.... game over).
Posted by 234r2we232

What you described is every problem I have with every Rockstar game. Too much filler, too much repetition, and generally not enough real meat to make an interesting game. They use nice music, that's about it.

Posted by KimFidler

I called it quits when I hit disc 3.  The story is the best part of the game, while the actual gameplay gets repetitive and boring.  I can understand why some people like it but it's just not for me.

Posted by HydraHam

another L.A noire is overrated, not worthy of praise blah blah post? i respect your opinion, and some of your points are valid but as a whole i disagree, the game deserves all it's praise.
 
But it all boils down to OPINION.

Posted by Doctorchimp
@RiotBananas: I'm struggling to understand your opinion.
 
What did you want in it? Did you want Phelps to shoot 50 people between cases and have a 30 second time limit to get to the next place? Since I'm guessing you wanted it to test your skill?
 
Then when it did test your skill with the interrogation segments and you failed at it, because you just wanted to talk casually, you get mad?
Posted by vidiot
@RiotBananas said:
I have decided after much deliberation with myself that I have a problem with all the praise L.A Noire is getting, I don't think it's fully justified. 
 
Let me start by saying I don't think L.A Noire is a game. I feel it is more of a set of very rigid interactive cutscenes with driving and shooting sections in between.
Stop. You just described game mechanics and design. So you basically just said it's not a game, but then said that you play it.
I understand, by the way, before you tell me "That's your fault for not doing it right" that it is my fault. As a human, I wanted to explore the questioning my own way, not the way the game dictates.
I wanted to be able to hunt down and kill every-one of my annoying squad mates in Killzone 2, and then let the story take it from there. I wanted to explore the game my way
I also wanted a button to press over-and-over again to let me breathe.
 
Sometimes design needs to take a linear path. You are upset at the lack of illusion given to you, regarding having direct control of the situation: Completely understandable. 
But to cite that this is literally "not a game" because of a rigid linear design is kinda ridiculous.
Posted by DG991
@RiotBananas: I read your post. I haven't played it but from the quick look I thought about a lot of the stuff you said.  And generally I do agree. Except the part when you say it isn't a game, cause I think it is. 
 
Maybe it isn't my type of game, but I don't really think it is that impressive. And the faces are top notch compared to other games but I still think they are so weird looking on the bodies that it doesn't really matter. 
 
I appreciate what they did with the game, but yea I don't think it is flawless like a lot of reviews seem to say. If it wins GOTY that would be disappointing. 
Posted by MariachiMacabre

I'm wondering if you expected GTA5 because if you really didn't expect this to be an Adventure game, you're crazy. 

Edited by LordXavierBritish

I would agree with you if it weren't for how malleable each case's outcome can be.
 
The beauty of L.A. Noire is that it makes it all seem scripted.
 
Also, I still don't get the complaint about the Doubt and Truth buttons everyone keeps bringing up. If you don't learn the first time you completely go off on someone when pressing Doubt then that's your own fault.
 
That being said the game is riddled with sub-par story telling and segments of narrative it didn't need. It's nowhere near perfect, but it's a lot more than okay.