L.A. Noire is not L.A. Confidential. Don’t even think that. Never mind the setting, the time period, the plot points, the corrupt system, the do-gooder cop with the tragic past or the “just the facts, ma’am” routine. Never mind femme fatales, dirty vice squads, gruff but loveable partners or the one clue that cracks the case. Never mind any of that, because even if you’re not paying attention, this game will just cutscene your way through to the plot to the few things you’re allowed to do.
Plenty of noise was made about the interrogation mechanic, where the great facial animation makes you try to call out a suspect on a lie. It’s a neat trick, but ultimately the acting means they look like a cartoon character told to look shifty. Finding evidence is a chore and much too methodical, and by the time you get to chasing down suspects on foot or in the car, and settle the issue with fists or guns, you remember that this is a Rockstar game at heart, and sandbox shooters are what they do.
Not to say L.A. Noire isn’t fun or worth playing. There’s a great style to the game, a decently worked-out plot and some fun little set pieces that make a few cases really stand out. That said, the ending falls apart at the seams, and ultimately this game just isn’t the straight dope it tries to be.