L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire Review

Some games get stuck in development hell and never end up seeing the light of day, but there are those rare few that manage to sneak through the cracks and eventually release. One of those was 2011’s L.A. Noire, which was developed by the now defunct Team Bondi for seven years before its eventual release. With the studio dead and no sign of a sequel, we did not expect to hear anything else out of this game, but now L.A. Noire has been brought back with a remaster that has made its way to not only the expected platforms, but also the Nintendo Switch.

L.A. Noire is an open-world sandbox game where you play an as LAPD cop in 1947 Los Angeles named Cole Phelps. As you play through the game, you also get a number of flashbacks mixed in for Phelps as well, giving us a better idea of what kind of character this is from when he was in the military and such.

At the very start of the game, you are a Patrol cop, where you get to solve a few small cases that basically teach you the ropes of the game. Where the game really starts to open up is once you get promoted to a Traffic cop, with additional promotions coming throughout the game. The main structure of the game has you taking on a number of different cases that you must complete to advance the story. L.A. Noire has a very intriguing story throughout, including the individual cases you have to solve, but the last arc of the game can be a bit polarizing overall.

While there are a number of different cases during the game’s main story, there are also plenty of sidequests you can take part in here. These come in the form of dispatch calls while you are driving around L.A., which you can choose to take if you wish. These are completely optional, but they add to the overall world of 1940s Los Angeles while also giving you something to do outside of the main story.

Following the release of L.A. Noire back in 2011, the game received DLC in the form of additional cases. These added cases are included in this new release of L.A. Noire, adding to the content in the game, and it is handled very discretely too. Rather than just having these cases be selectable from the menu or something, they are actually interweaved into the game itself. For instance, you will come across your first of these during the Traffic Cases, with the rest showing up throughout the other rankings in the game that they initially fit in. This was a nice way of making the L.A. Noire story feel more complete by having them all together like this in the remaster.

L.A. Noire’s signature feature was the special facial technology that they used as a way to make interrogations as real as possible. You might have thought this tech would feel dated now, but it is still every bit as impressive as it was in the original release. Just like before, there are some characters that look downright creepy with this. However, this isn’t something that really could have been corrected here with the way it was developed initially and it is very remarkable most of the time anyways.

By using this special facial tech, the goal was to allow players to be able to read the characters you are questioning in the game. This comes into play with the various interrogations in the game, which have you asking suspects or witnesses questions and then selecting from Good Cop, Bad Cop, and Accuse based on their answer. This is actually a change from the original, which had the options as Truth, Doubt, and Lie. Essentially, they changed this to what your actual reaction is instead of what you think about what they had said.

This mechanic is still a lot of fun to play around with in the game, with you getting rewarded XP for choosing the right answers. Choosing Good Cop generally means that you have no reason to believe they are lying, but want to push for more info. Bad Cop means that you don’t think they are outright lying, but are leaving some details out. Accuse means you think they are downright lying, which prompts you to select evidence to prove it. If you don’t have the correct evidence, you will lose out on that question.

As you level up your rank in the game, you will earn what are known as Intuition Points, which can be used in a few different ways. You can use them to help you find clues in a crime scene that you are missing out on or to help you pick the right answers in interrogations. I try to avoid using them in my playthroughs, but they are nice to have available regardless.

One of the features in L.A. Noire’s original release was that of different outfits for Cole Phelps to wear. There were some that could be unlocked in-game, though most of the ones with worthwhile bonuses came as DLC. However, these are now included in the game itself, but that is not all. L.A. Noire’s latest release comes with exclusive outfits that haven’t been in the game at all before, such as one that removes one incorrect answer from all interrogations. These are always fun to work towards and unlock without having to pay extra, something that this version improves on the original in a big way.

Releasing for the Nintendo Switch naturally brings the portable aspect to L.A. Noire that has never been available in the past and is exclusive to this version this time around too. While not as suited quite as much as something like say The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the case structure in L.A. Noire does work well enough for players to pick up and play while on the go.

The Nintendo Switch also has something else that the other platforms do not have, which are motion controls. Motion controls are done only with the Joy-Cons, with no implementation of anything on the Pro Controller. The most common experience for motion is when investigating crime scenes, which allows you to inspect the various clues and move them around by rotating the right Joy-Con.

Motion controls can also be use for combat, both with guns and without. This allows you to aim with the controller instead with your gun, or use it to swing and block in hand-to-hand combat. This is handled pretty well and is at least worth trying out, though you likely will just end up returning to the regular controls before too long there. Lastly, you can also use the motion controls to control the camera if you want, though it’s usually just easier to use the right analog stick to do so. The motion controls in L.A. Noire aren’t vital to the experience, but they are a nice addition that sets the Nintendo Switch version apart from the rest of the pack.

Being a remaster of a last-gen game definitely helps with the performance and visual style on the Nintendo Switch. L.A. Noire looks even better than it did before, with the facial tech mentioned before still holding up quite well. There were very few hiccups in performance here on the Switch, with the only reoccurring gameplay issues just being more walking glitches than anything.

One strange issue that L.A. Noire has on Switch seems to have though is with the sound mixing. There are times where the voices sound unnatural in front of the background audio, with it almost sounding too loud at times. It is somewhat distracting at times, but it is something you will start to get used to at least.

L.A. Noire is one of those games that everyone was really hyped for and it kind of came and went very quickly. This is why it was a perfect choice for a remaster and it is just as much fun as it was when it originally released. The inclusion of the DLC cases in seamless fashion was a nice surprise and while the motion controls aren’t all that useful, being able to play the game on the go makes the Nintendo Switch version of L.A. Noire well worth checking out.


Verdict
While Team Bondi may be no more, L.A. Noire still lives on with this remastered version. It may not get the 4K support that is available on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, the Nintendo Switch version brings the portability factor while still looking very good itself. For those that missed out on the original release, you should definitely look into investigating L.A. Noire on the Nintendo Switch.

8 Facial Ticks Out Of 10

Release Date: November 14th, 2017 (US)
Available Platforms: Switch (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Team Bondi, Virtuos

Disclosure: L.A. Noire Was Provided By The Publisher For Coverage Purposes

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