It’s been roughly six years since L.A. Noire originally released to critical and fan acclaim. The detective-noire style was unique, making it an unparalleled classic, even today. To give the new generation a chance to experience L.A. Noire, Rockstar Games remastered it by bringing it up to current standards and finally letting Nintendo fans experience it. With the increasing number of ports on Switch, can L.A. Noire match Skyrim or Doom or is it proof we don’t need a port of everything?
All of the content from the original L.A. Noire that debuted about half a decade ago remains intact in the remastered version. The meaty cases and story that many fell in love with are all repackaged in the game, with no cuts in content whatsoever. All of the downloadable content like the five cases, and costumes that were previously released are included as well, which adds more hours of gameplay after finishing the game.
For those who are new to L.A. Noire and have not played the original release, the player takes the role of an LAPD detective named Cole Phelps who from being just a patrol officer makes it all the way to becoming the top detective. Unfortunately, in his journey in working his way up to the ranks, there is corruption within the department that he must uncover.
Somewhat similar to the Grand Theft Auto games, L.A. Noire is a third person, open-world adventure. Players will be spend their time driving around the city of Los Angeles in the time period of the 1940s. You then take on cases by doing investigations, finding clues, hunting down suspects and even do some gunplay. Unlike in the Grand Theft Auto games where you can do a bunch of things where you are free to roam the city, L.A. Noire limits you on that as the destination is usually from point A to point B with no detours whatsoever. Luckily, there are other mini-sidequests that you can do and that’s taking on street crimes which vary from chasing down suspects and shooting them down.
Investigating for clues and interrogating the potential suspects and witnesses are the main highlights of L.A. Noire. When Phelps is on a mission to solve a case, players will be examining the scene of the crime by picking up several objects and jotting them down in his notes. When it’s time for interrogation, Phelps will be bringing out his handy dandy notebook and depending on the response of the witness or suspect, Phelps will have to present the evidence whether he’s lying or not. For players who have played Ace Attorney games, the interrogation process is somewhat similar.
One of the slight changes implemented in the remastered version are the three options during an interrogation phase in response to a suspect or witnsesses’ claims. Instead of the Truth, Doubt, and Lie options that you get to choose, it has now been replaced to a Good Cop, Bad Cop, and Accuse. The new changes isn’t all for pure cosmetics as the new options now better convey what Cole will say or do. Back in the original version, there was some confusion on the actions of Cole where if you pick Doubt, he will suddenly go aggressive.
Unfortunately, those who felt that the combat in L.A. Noire back then were slow, it remains unchanged in this version. Due to stiff animations, players will feel a little off in some of the intense gunfights in the game. Also, there are moments where Cole be in a fist fight, which again seems to be stiff and slow. Compared to the gunfights and brawling in today’s games, it’s evident that the ones in L.A. Noire are outdated.
The best feature of the Switch version is being able to play it in handheld mode. When playing it undocked, the game runs at 720p and when it’s docked, it runs at a solid 1080p when hooked up to your TV. Comparing it to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, there is little change visually. However, players will notice that there’s slight improvements ti the textures and of course the environments where they’re more vibrant and a little bit sharper. But then, the feeling of a real-remaster isn’t so obvious. Throughout my play time with the Switch version, playing it on the go is my preferred way to play the game.
The performance in the Switch version is average at best. There are occasional frame rate dips that I encountered and it’s mostly during combat. As for the draw distance, it’s quite improved in this remastered version. For a game that is almost a decade old, the visuals still look good, especially the motion capture where the lip syncing is perfect as it’s backed up by top voice actors in the industry.
The Switch version of L.A. Noire is the perfect experience, be it at home or on the go. Gamers who never experienced the original can now see what everyone was taking about. The mature storyline, backed with a well-done detective-type gameplay, is something gamers shouldn’t miss, especially the latest generation of gamers. Since this is an older title, be wary of the stiff animations, gunfights, and somewhat dated visuals, though that won’t ruin the overall adventure.
[Editor’s Note: L.A. Noire was reviewed on Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]