For a lot of reasons, at first glance, I wasn't sure I'd get on with LA Noire.
It had long driving sequences, slow-paced investigations and big cinematic cut scenes that seemed to drag on for ages - when all I wanted to do was mow down innocents on nearby pavements and shoot bad guys in the face. (In between solving some mildly challenging mysteries and sporting some rather classy pin-striped suits.)
But after a while, I began to realise that my early suspicions were unfounded, and that Team Bondi's detective game wasn't just a GTA carbon copy with an unsatisfyingly dull 'this time you're a good guy' twist.
Instead, what I found as I played further was actually quite refreshing. It became something new and quite apart from the kind of open world experience I've come to expect from a Rockstar Production.
First off, the setting is incredible. LA Noire contains, and quite unashamedly so in fact, the same sort of tiresome objectives that you're used to in similar open world titles, but in this game, the long windedness is repelled by a strong and constant background narrative. In addition, it offers the stunning real time vistas of LA, which (for your information) were scaled from birds-eye-view pics from the streets of LA from the 40's ad 50's. This really gives you that feeling of stepping into a time machine.
To get the most from LA Noire, you have to injest all of its city's majesty - most of which comes away from the enjoyable-if-repetitive main campaign. Whilst driving to your next crime scene or radio response call, you can do a bit of sightseeing and feast your eyes on some of LA's most famous monuments and land marks, or simply sit back watch a living, breathing city go about its day.
The detective aspect of the game is brilliantly done; your objective being to take your time to examine all the evidence, get all the clues, question all the witnesses/suspects and try to deconstruct the sequence of events as they happened.
Investigating a crime scene is incredibly rewarding when done properly and not rushed. Building your case with care and precision is the aim of the game - and the detecting element really makes LA Noire seem fresh and different from other open world titles.
Fedoras off to the slavish efforts of Team Bondi for getting one of this generation's most important games out of the door. Cole Phelps earns credit, scandal and much more during his hours of adventuring, but now he's accrued something new. You, sir, have my vote.