I've been liking L.A. Noire, but reading Richard Cobbett's review made me realise that I've been enjoying it more as a somewhat serious Xbox version of Phoenix Wright than as an actual noir mystery adventure. I guess at one point I'd expected the latter, but pretty early on I worked out that L.A. Noire wasn't it, and stopped worrying about it.

As such, I don't really mind the Truth/Surprisingly Aggressive Doubt/Lie mechanic. But Cobbett is most certainly correct about one thing: Phelps is perhaps the most dull main character I've ever played (with the possible exception of Gordon Freeman). I keep waiting for him to get interesting and he keeps not doing it. There's a series of cut scenes which I sort of expect to make him interesting, but they're not doing it either. There was an odd voice-over at the start which mysteriously disappeared (was it… murder?) which was interesting in itself but failed to pass any of that onto Phelps. If he was any duller he'd be the lead character in a CSI spin-off.

Meanwhile, when I'm not awkwardly interrogating people, I'm shooting down criminals like flies. This is as fun as in any GTA-style game, but feels a little odd when I'm supposed to be a fine upstanding member of the law. I guess it's possible that there were cops that went around shooting people in the head all the time, but even if there were, Phelps doesn't really come across that way.

There's a lot to like here, and spotting actors you know is much more fun with the insane level of performance capture they've done: "Hey, it's you, bald coroner guy who's been in every TV show". But overall, it's not anywhere near as evocative as I was hoping. While playing Red Dead Redemption, I felt like I was a cowboy. While playing Arkham Asylum, I felt like I was Batman. While playing L.A. Noire… I'm just playing L.A. Noire. It's not so bad, really.

Portal 2, on the other hand, is awesome.

Tom Charman Mastodon