Review – L.A. Noire (Switch)

LA Noire is a dark and gritty crime thriller set in the backdrop of 1940s Los Angeles. You take control of Cole Phelps, a former marine officer turned cop and eventually detective through the consistent efforts and hard work. L.A. Noire features the use of advanced motion scan technology of its time to accurately depict facial expressions of real life actors during scenes. In the updated re-release of the game, specifically for the Nintendo Switch, it features a resolution of 1080p docked and 720p undocked. The Switch version also uses HD rumble, and gyro controls and while undocked you can use the touchscreen. It has all the DLC and a few extras for the re-release.

To say I like this game is putting it lightly. I absolutely adore everything about L.A. Noire. The first Rockstar Game’s title since Bully: Scholarship Edition on Wii, on Nintendo platforms. The first game of its time to use such advanced technology and its one of the first few games I bought DLC for day one. I played the game originally on the PlayStation 3, then later on PC, now on Nintendo Switch. The game itself is a very solid port with a single noticeable change. There are a couple hitches with the Nintendo Switch version, but they don’t distract from the overall game. Unfortunately, the features outside of HD rumble and portable mode, seem kind of rushed and feel awkward to use. Graphically it doesn’t appear to have all the major enhancements, but it does look better than the original releases. Gameplay is primarily the same and the one change (as I mentioned earlier) does makes your decisions clearer.

The port of the game is pretty solid and unfortunately there is a couple little problems to mention. The game requires a 14gb (13.1gb to be exact) update to actually play the retail version. While I’m use to that and having downloaded Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze on the Wii U, I’m no stranger to large downloads on consoles. I honestly do believe that added price of the Nintendo Switch version is really unjustified given that 32gb carts are available to publishers to use. I did purchase the retail version, but I was provided a code for the game. I have no idea if this is an issue of the SD card and the cart being used together, but there is a lot of pop in that happens as well as shimmering while driving out in the open world. It does sort itself out over time. The load times are fairly quick and it’s pretty comparable to the PC version which is something I appreciate. Thankfully the game runs really well in portable mode, and in an hour of gaming from a full battery it dropped down to 78%. Your mileage may vary when it comes to usage.

 

This does segue to how the game looks. Overall it looks great. 1080p and looks to be using the same graphical assets that the original PC version used. In portable mode it’s 720p, but looks great on the Switch screen. This brings us in to the frame rate. I can’t tell, but it seems like it’s a constant 30fps, but I could be wrong. Shadows have the same dithered effect that most Rockstar games have. Overall, it’s actually really impressive to see LA Noire on the Nintendo Switch. I don’t see any changes in quality between docked and undocked, but overall it does look nicer than the original release on home consoles of that era.

One to mention is the Switch specific features are pretty, lackluster and simple. While undocked you can use the touchscreen to interact with the game. It doesn’t feel right and it feels like a rushed feature. Lots of double tapping to deal with objects. Gyro controls feel unoptimized but I haven’t done a lot with them to really give a full impression of them.

Thankfully the gameplay is still the same as the original, with one exception of the truth/lie/doubt mechanic. The game replaces it with good cop, bad cop and accuse. Simpler but easier to understand for the player. The controls still feel pretty sluggish but newer hardware does take advantage of a lot of the responsiveness of new technology. Driving still is a major problem, especially with a lot of the chase scenes in cars. Shooting feels really awkward on the pro-controller without aim-assist on. HD Rumble works well when you are investigating, but it doesn’t feel good while driving. In the end the game is a mix bag of problems and fun still.

Overall, removing my bias for the game. It’s a very solid port. The writing and gameplay elements that make the game remain unchanged. The added portability makes the game much less of a chore and more of a pick up and play experience. As long as you don’t mind the added price of the game on Switch and the slight graphical pop-in, you’ll enjoy this version of the game going forward. I recommend playing this classic gem on the Nintendo Switch if you haven’t played it at all or want to play it again in a different way.

GAME: LA Noire
ESRB: Rated M for Mature
PUBLISHER: Rockstar Games
OBTAINED: Review code from Rockstar Games

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