I had the pleasure of borrowing this game from a friend recently. While a very enjoyable game, I would almost classify it as interactive entertainment. It seems to be a game that is impossible to fail at the few minor failures I faced in cases were easily fixed; with no repercussions. While the face reading does have a bit of a learning curve to it it becomes easy and repetitive after awhile. I unintentionally screwed a few cases up simply by playing too tired and driving myself; as it turns out I am terrible at driving 40's style cars dead tired. So I managed to bang up quite a few cars and public property landing me several cases completed with 2 or 3 stars. Rather than the 5 stars I was acquiring under more ideal circumstances; Luckily for me the game allows you to replay cases without playing the entire game again. I was after all tearing through town like the devil was on my coat tails most of the time.
Spoilers after the jump.
The stories and cases were top notch, very entertaining although the twists in some of the stories threw me for a loop, I accepted them in stride and powered onward. I found it very disappointing to be changing main characters at the end of the game for no apparent reason. I can't fathom why rockstar decided this was going to be a good idea. You play 95% of the cases as Phelps, then you switch to Jack at the end; It felt very anti-climatic.
To clear the final cars from my list, I had to go to the Vehicle Showroom from the main menu of the game, and cross check "darkened" cars with this list. I then wrote down each car I was missing on a notepad. After 10 hours of using the images of the cars to try and find them around town, I came upon a bit of online advice. If you open the showroom on a "darkened" car and hit 'A', then go and start up Free-play on the Homicide Desk, When you load most of the time the missing car will either be in the parking lot across the street, or being driven somewhere in the vicinity. Should the car be a no show, rinse and repeat as it will almost always appear on the second try. *This doesn't work for Service, Police, Sport, or Bonus* cars. Many of those you need to acquire during specific cases.
This brings me lastly to the Street Crimes, I think these are the meat of the game between bits of gravy and stuffing. The car chases and shoot outs were very entertaining, without the hassle of going through some of the questioning of the regular cases. While normally I much prefer an in depth story line, these were very light on story, I think using these in concert with the major cases and story points brought the game together nicely into a well rounded and VERY entertaining game.
Overall LA Noire is a fantastic game, it's worth playing. If you haven't yet sign up for the Rockstar Social Club, it can help fill in any thing you are missing with it's vast checklists for locations, cars, news papers, and film reels.
Lastly, What is with Phelps cheating on his wife with Elsa? I didn't see that coming nor did it seem to fit his personality. It seemed like it was hammered in to move Phelps from Vice to Arson.