The Insight: Is L.A. Noire A Remastered Diamond In The Rough?

By Shane Ferguson

In the modern days of AAA, big budget game development, I applaud any publisher that takes a chance and releases a unique game. Modern titles are often marketed like movies, but many fall short when it comes to recreating that cinematic experience. As video games grow as an industry, I understand the significance of including these components. Yet Hollywood and video games don’t have the best track record. Whether it is game to film adaptations or film to game adaptations, it seems as though the two industries rarely get it right. Developers like Quantic Dream (creators of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls) and Telltale Games (Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us) show us the potential of this genre and what we can expect moving forward. I try my best to check out all of these “interactive dramas.”

Rockstar’s in the mix, too. A friend let me borrow his copy of the interrogation mystery L.A. Noire back in 2013, boasting about how great it was. I put it on the back-burner for a whole month before I decided to pop it in. Maybe I needed a change of pace from the FPS and single-player action genre I was frequenting at the time.

I was happy I indulged. Perhaps it was the little nuances such as the 1940s black and white screen filter option, or even my girlfriend screaming out her two cents during interrogations. Whatever it was, L.A. Noire was definitely a fun and memorable gaming experience. Aside from some of the brief DLC cases, I haven’t returned to the game since my first completion. This month, Rockstar have released a remastered edition of L.A. Noire and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to play this game over with a fresh mind. Was it as good as I remembered or should Rockstar have left this classic to the past?

L.A. Noire is a perfect exemplification of technology and capability meets imagination. How facial recognition is utilized in this game is conceptually brilliant. The overall story has some issues with pacing and the ending can be underwhelming for some, but altogether it’s not a bad story. I guess you can say the criticism is that each case is its own tale, in and of itself so some can be more memorable than the main story. Since the game chronicles Cole Phelps’ career in law enforcement, it comes off more like a noir series rather than a cohesive noir film. Luckily for L.A. Noire, gameplay and design tell their own story.la_noire_switch_08_1920I’m captivated by the mood and tone of L.A. Noire; the game captures your imagination and keeps you immersed in old-time Los Angeles the entire time. The jazzy intro, game music, car radio and even the pitter-patter of hard bottom shoes add to the game’s charm. The emotions displayed are A1 and the writing is excellent, especially in certain sections of the game (Police banter, eyewitness/suspect questioning). Which is fortunate for a game that consists of mostly dialogue.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best sounding game from a technical aspect. That can be overlooked, in my opinion, as it adds to the vintage noir appeal of the game. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I wouldn’t hold it against L.A. Noire as most of the acting (and even the gunfire) sound great. The controls and driving feel slightly more responsive than the original. Maybe this is due to the newer hardware or perhaps driving in L.A. Noire was never as bad as I recollected.

I revisited the original on my Xbox 360 to test this. I’ve come to the conclusion that the remaster’s controls are measurably refined. Increased frame rate, resolution, and lighting conceal some of the game’s age efficaciously. Graphically the game looks like what you’d come to expect from a remaster. It really benefits from the 4K makeover but there were some occasional texture pop-ins. All in all, L.A. Noire has never looked better. The game obviously still suffers from some of the same gameplay issues as the original. For example, the interrogation mechanic suffers from a lack of versatility. Compromised cross-examinations can affect the game and will surely tempt you to restart on an occasion or two. Plus, there’s the lack of many additional tasks.

The game hosts an unreal amount of real vintage cars that you can find as a miscellaneous side objective if you choose. Due to many of these old-school vehicles looking identical to me, this isn’t necessarily the most rewarding task. Despite this, I still appreciate its  presence. Primarily, it’s the game’s little nuances and attention to detail that helped it stand out from anything else around at the time. I can’t really justify purchasing this remaster if you still have your original copy and your last gen console. For those who’ve never played L.A. Noire or just need a new game for your Nintendo Switch, it’s definitely worth the $39.99 price tag ($49.99 on Switch). Rockstar delivers an original experience unlike anything on the market right now – which we don’t get much of anymore when it comes to the bigger titles.Ultimately, it’s a great port with all of the DLC included. As someone who already completed L.A. Noire back in the day, it’s definitely worth the revisit.

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