When the highly anticipated L.A Noire released back in 2011, it arrived with a lot of promise and a lot of hype particularly because of the unique face technology that it incorporated in to the main mechanics of the game. It became a cult classic and somewhat of a hit back on the Xbox 360 but it fell short in certain areas of its gameplay, mainly the free roam aspect being fairly redundant and not utilised to its full potential giving the game a very linear experience. Despite the emptiness of the free roam aspect, it reviewed well and still offered a fresh experience that hadn’t been seen before in a game of this style. Earlier in the year, Rockstar announced that the Team Bondi developed crime thriller was getting the HD and Ultra HD treatment, boasting more detailed textures, improved lighting effects, 4K visuals and high dynamic range. It also comes packaged with the extra DLC that came out after its original release, making the newly remastered version of L.A Noire the definitive edition and at a reasonable price point too.
Set in 1940’s Los Angeles, L.A Noire sees players take on the role of Cole Phelps, a troubled war veteran trying to make his mark on the LAPD, aspiring to work his way up in to Vice, investigating murders and various other cases while fighting the everyday battle of crime and corruption within the City while also battling his personal demons that haunt him from his time serving in the armed forces. The story itself holds up well and despite completing it when it was originally released, It had been over 6 years since I did so a lot of what happens, particularly in the beginning felt quite new to me as I had forgotten about most of what happens early on. It is certainly a slow starter but the deeper in to the story I got the darker it became and It was then I started to recollect certain things that were about to unfold. The narrative is well written and the performances from the cast are still strong and are a testament to how ahead of its time this game actually was back in 2011 and how, even now, it can still compete with some of today’s narrative driven games.
Investigation and interrogation play a huge part in L.A Noire and it’s certainly a unique engaging experience, even now over 6 years later. Each and every character plays their role really well, whether it’s a main character or a small part in one of the cases, each one of them gives a convincing performance. An excellent musical score compliments the game in different scenarios, particularly in investigation sequences while looking for clues and in dramatic scenes whether it is a gun fight or a high speed car chase. The overall mood and atmosphere of the time is well captured throughout, giving an authentic overview of what it would be like to be a detective in the late 1940’s. Unfortunately the open world aspect of L.A Noire is as still as redundant as it was originally. There is very little on offer in terms of things to do aside from the main campaign investigations. There are the odd few collectibles to hunt down and around 40 street crimes to deal with but that’s it. It all feels rather empty too, with very little going on in the streets and not a lot going on in the way of human traffic.
Most remastered games apart from a few exceptions are famously known for being only slightly improved over their original releases, with very little going in to updating them and even some just being lazy ports with no adjustments at all. One thing that is evident with this remaster of L.A Noire though is that visually it looks fantastic and the developers have done a great job in making this game look the best it ever has. If it wasn’t for the fact that the engine has its limitations in terms of its scale, you would be convinced that this was a current gen release that was only about 12 months old. If you had never seen or played L.A Noire on the Xbox 360, knew nothing about it from before and was experiencing it for the first time on current generation machines, you would never know that this game is nearly 7 years old. The attention to detail in improving the texture mapping and lighting is fantastic. It was a decent looking game back when it was originally released but it’s clearly been given some VIP treatment here and the amount of work that has obviously gone in to it has paid off.
Character models and environments all look fantastic with finer details in clothing and brickwork on buildings looking sharp and incredibly detailed. The technology used in the facial expressions look even more realistic than they did before and at times, it really looks like you are watching a movie or a TV show. On top of all of that is also the addition of 4K resolution and HDR, and these make it look even better with HDR really bringing out the wider colour gamut that has been used alongside the new and improved lighting within the game. It looks good on the base Xbox One but load it in to the Xbox One X and it turns up the visual quality quite a few notches as it looks sharp and incredibly vibrant. Animations for the most part are really smooth and have held up well since its original release with only a few minor clipping issues within cutscenes but it only happened on a few occasions and when it did, it was barely noticeable. While the visual upgrades are of a good standard where a remaster is concerned, some of the gameplay mechanics unfortunately left me a little disappointed.
Overall the movement of the character is good and smooth to control and even though the shooting and cover system can feel a little stiff, they still hold up fairly well but can feel slightly dated. It’s the driving mechanics that let this game down slightly though and I am sad to say that this aspect hasn’t aged well at all. Driving a car feels overly sensitive and almost feels like it is floating when going around corners, like it’s not attached to the road properly. I appreciate that the vehicles need to have a bit of a dated feel to them because of the time the game is set but I would expect them to under steer rather than over steer if anything. It is something that is noticeable straight away but despite my disappointment with the driving, I kind of got used to it the further I got in to the game. While the driving is disappointing, the overall feel of the game is pretty good and while some of it feels a little dated, it doesn’t spoil the overall experience and the fact that L.A Noire remains a really good game, even by today’s standards.