Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire was one of the most unique and ambitious games to release in 2011, and now the game has been given a second chance to amaze players with a Nintendo Switch, PS4, or Xbox One. Featuring all the downloadable content from the original game and several gameplay enhancements, this new release of L.A. Noire is the definitive way to experience this exceptional narrative-drive detective action-adventure game. For the purpose of this review, we played L.A. Noire on the Nintendo Switch and will discuss the new features exclusive to this version of the game.
Players assume the role of Cole Phelps, a young top prospect of the LAPD. The game begins with a couple of cases, which, essentially, serve as tutorial introductions to the game’s core gameplay mechanics; searching for clues, interrogating suspects, and investigating leads to assist in solving the case.
Each case opens with Phelps and his partner visiting a crime scene and then sweeping the location for evidence. Finding clues isn’t too taxing as the game provides you with two basic tells – the controller will offer a slight rumble or you’ll hear a chime alert you whenever you are narrowing in on an area of interest.
Investigating and searching crime scenes can be invigorating, especially during the early hours as the missions are fresh; but this sense of excitement fades as the game advances. Evidence gathering becomes routine and a bit of a chore; however, the cases – thanks in part to the characters and the compelling narrative of each case, do a fabulous job at keeping your interest piqued for the duration of the game.
Following the investigation and evidence gathering, you will then have to interrogate suspects and move on to solve the case.
Interrogating a suspect is basic in execution, you open Phelps’ notebook, look over a list of preset questions based on the evidence you collected, and you ask questions from there. After you select the question you want an answer to, the suspect will respond and you must then decide whether they are telling the truth, lying, or giving you an ambiguous reply and withholding information. By reading their facial cues you’ll be able to tell if they are lying as they will appear more anxious; meanwhile, when a character is telling the truth their face may be more relaxed.
The interrogation process has undergone a slight change, as the options have been changed from “Truth,” “Doubt,” and “Lie” to “Good Cop,” “Bad Cop,” and “Accuse.” The new name designation gives the player a better understanding of Cole’s line of questioning, as the original labels were too vague and would often confuse the player during a pivotal point of the interrogation sequence.
Serving as a welcome distraction are the game’s side-missions, which provide more action and serve as a refresher during and after mainline cases conclude. These supplemental missions – dubbed Street Crimes – offer the player four case types: traffic, homicide, vice, and arson. Whenever driving through the streets of L.A., crimes take place and the police dispatcher will notify you on the radio of the location and nature of the disturbance. You can opt to accept the case and a location marker will be added to your map.
Since the game is presented in a Law & Order type manner, with each case representing an in-game episode, linear progression keeps cases limited to a favorable time-frame to complete, which can range between 45 minutes to around an hour.
L.A. Noire is a game release for Switch that will cause the player to pause for a moment in astonishment because it is an amazing looking game. Be it in handheld mode or while docked, L.A. Noire is impressive to gaze upon. The setting of L.A. is breathtaking, the character models and the facial animations of the cast are awe-inspiring. L.A. Noire shines in handheld mode, as the visuals look remarkable and it is one of the most impressive portable games to ever release.
The Switch release of L.A. Noire comes with a couple of exclusive features – motion and touch controls. Motion controls allow the player to use the right JoyCon to control the camera and to interact with objects that are picked up in-game. This control option adds a sense of immersion to the experience. Likewise, touch controls grant the player ease of control by simply tapping the screen and areas of interest or turning pages through Phelps’ journal. Both of these control schemes are pleasant additions; however, traditional controls work best, but having options is never a bad thing.
L.A. Noire is like a fine wine or cognac; it is as grown better with age and is for those with a refined, mature pallet. There are few games like L.A. Noire that are able to deliver a mature gaming experience in such a proficient manner. It’s engaging and thoroughly entertaining. L.A. Noire is unlike anything else in the Switch software library, and it is one of 2017’s best release. For those looking for a deep and riveting gaming experience, L.A. Noire is what you’ve been searching for.
(Editor’s Note: A digital copy was provided by Rockstar for the purpose of this review.)