Noire’t enough done?
6 years after the original release, and with Team Bondi long gone, Rockstar have decided to give L.A. Noire the HD remake treatment. Is this crime thriller worth going back to?
The remaster includes all of the DLC which was released for the game, which helps expand upon the scope of the original game, without altering the main storyline very much, as you follow the career of LAPD detective Cole Phelps as he readjusts to life in LA following the war and joining the police after years in the Marines.
The storyline was widely praised at the time of release, and Rockstar have chosen not to fiddle here – so there’s no new content to add to round out any of the sub-plots or tie up any outstanding loose ends.
LA Noire’s 20+ hour campaign is effectively unaltered. The bulk of the game revolves around looking for clues, questioning suspects, and judging their responses based upon their tone and facial animations. There’s also some driving (which is mostly optional) and shooting sections, although they aren’t designed to be particularly hard (and can be skipped after three consecutive failures).
The shooting holds up pretty well, although the melee combat feels quite dated given the ways that Batman Arkham Asylum has revolutionized this kind of gameplay in recent years.
The one change that you will notice is in the terminology used during your questioning. The prompts have now been updated to “Good Cop”, “Bad Cop” and “Accuse”, to better reflect the reaction that Cole will have to what’s been pressed. It’s a minor change that sometimes helps, but I honestly still found it too difficult to read the facial expressions all of the time to accurately get the right answer consistently.
At least by being a story-driven game for the most part, nothing really feels dated about LA Noire, and by virtue of being in quite an unusual genre (you still don’t see big-budget adventure games), still feels quite fresh after 6 years.
L.A. Noire was seen as a superlative looking game when it came out, pushing the previous consoles to their absolute limit. 6 years on, and despite promising Xbox One X features on the box, this remaster just doesn’t look like a modern game at all.
The textures, weather and draw distance are all improved, whilst the game will also support 4K resolutions, but this extra crispness just highlights how soft some of the character models are, and how poor some of the animation is. Even the faces, which were a revelation at the time, only look the equal of the competition now that motion capture is pretty much a default for most studios.
The voice acting and music remain excellent though, albeit an Atmos remastering wouldn’t have gone amiss.
“L.A. Noire” is still a pretty good game, but it’s also a great example of just how far games have come in the last 6 years. The graphics updates are pretty minor, and the facial animations, whilst still solid, won’t blow anyone away anymore. The core gameplay is still pretty unique, and you do also get all of the DLC, making for a reasonably generous package.
However, for such a marquee title, I’d have thought that Rockstar would have put more effort into the re-release; this is as good as time as ever for someone new to experience the game, but there’s not enough of an upgrade to warrant previous players coming back to L.A.