Five things I have learned from spending five minutes (okay, a little more) with L.A. Noire.

LA Noire image

1. The facial animation is really something. Every little twitch is captured. Yes, I know that’s what we were promised. But to see it running before your eyes is something else. It’s a massive step forward for video game graphics.

2. The bodies, however, are not quite as special. There have been a few moments when the superb acting – for a video game, this is another significant progression, bettering Red Dead Redemption by some margin – has been awkwardly juxtaposed with clunky movements. They’re not bad at all – but are made to look ordinary by the facial work. Plus, some of the bodies seem too small for the heads in certain cut-scenes.

3. Chasing after crooks and beating them down is pretty easy. Granted, I have not progressed too far, but even for entry level fisticuffs, the couple of brawls I have been in have been beyond simple. Punch, duck, grab, throw. Plus the mechanics are fairly stiff – perhaps it’s just me but the responsiveness isn’t what it could be.

4. The storytelling is fantastic, and the cases superbly structured. I have already been hooked enough to want to know what happens next, at every turn. Every little clue, I want to sniff it out; every possible extra (newspapers: do pick them up), I want to tick it off. Cole is not the most engaging of protagonists so far – but there’s the suspicion that we’re going to learn a lot more about him, very soon.

5. I shouldn’t have agreed to play the game through with my wife. Not because I want her to miss out – but she is unlikely to want to play for more than an hour a day. I could quite easily play through for a good few hours at a time. This is going to be slow progress…

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