L.A Noire was always the black sheep of the Rockstar Family. From day one it was always viewed as something a little different, even eschewing the use of Rockstar’s RAGE engine in favour of a custom job better suited to motion capture. Kotaku once described it as a weird game, where as others seem to be pandering for a sequel, even though the first game ended in such a climactic and pretty final way.
Whatever you think of it, the end of 2017 and early 2018 have brought a new lease of life for this old classic, with HD, 4K and VR releases all on the slate. We looked at L.A. Noire remastered for the Xbox One and if I’m perfectly frank this game was released in 2011 so to remaster it and call what they’ve done to it a remastering is bordering on false advertising. Sure, there are some shiny vehicle textures, and everything looks a little smoother but not by much. It has the look of something that’s simply taking advantage of the better graphics hardware in the Xbox One compared to the 360 on the same engine, which has had just enough tweaks to get it to run and little else on top. If looks no where near as polished as any game made specifically for Xbox One.
It did throw up some chuggy frame rates every now and then, particularly when driving at speed and they’ve done nothing to make your partner less of an idiot when running around the city but all in all it still plays and feels like L.A Noire. Tidying up some of the facial animations didn’t make me any better at guessing whether somebody was lying or not.
Whatever you say about the mechanics of it all, I’m in the camp that really loved this game, and it feels like a big enough and rich enough world to have a thousand adventures in. In fact, this is the sort of thing high end and AAA gaming should be doing more of. Experimenting. Experimenting with game play ideas, experimenting with puzzles, dialogue, NPC interactions and most importantly characters. I loved being a detective in post war LA and It was a real pleasure to step back into the tragic shoes of Cole Phelps and wade around the murky world of the LAPD.
The game isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, there’s an element of destiny to the path you take, whether you screw up a case and nick the wrong guy, your soon allowed back out on to the streets to screw up another case, you can essentially fall upwards regardless of how well you do.
I’m firmly in the camp that would love a Sequel to this game, or another game like it. The Map and the city is Colossal, there’s plenty of nooks, crannies, dives and watering holes to build a whole heap of stories in this universe. There are plenty of ways to continue to play around in this city and to move an interesting and gripping story onwards. The Original game sold perfectly well enough and I expect the remastering has boosted those coffers, so I think there’s more than enough reason to do it. The Xbox One gives you plenty of opportunity to remove the whole predestined feel and include a variety of case paths depending on the things you do and the paths you take and embark firmly down the action RPG route.
The remastering comes with the DLC that was available for the 360 so there’s plenty of miles in picking it up again for some new cases, particularly as it isn’t a full price game. As a result, if you haven’t played L.A. Noire its well worth the money and you’ll have hours and hours of entertainment from it.
If you played the original then you’ll know the game isn’t as replayable as you’d like and a few of the surprises aren’t going to be surprises second time round but the DLC is pretty good and slots in seamlessly for a slightly interesting challenge. Don’t expect much of a remastering though.