Rockstar hasn’t been on a Nintendo platform in quite a while, so seeing L.A. Noire come to the Nintendo Switch was a bit of a surprise. Also being released on the PS4 and Xbox One, L.A. Noire was an interesting last-gen release that many people enjoyed. Remastered and retooled for the Nintendo Switch, L.A. Noire comes out alongside other Triple-A third party releases like Skyrim and DOOM. Is L.A. Noire worth the pick up on the Switch?
L.A. Noire has you playing the role of Cole Phillips, an ex-military and low-end cop for the LAPD who rises through the ranks of the patrol with your command. The game takes place in the late 1940’s in a re-created Los Angeles, and Cole quickly learns that the current state of LA is rough; filled with murders, corruption, and more. The game is broken up into individual cases, but does follow a general story arch with Cole himself that is prevalent throughout the game.
The story-telling and presentation are top notch in the game which really makes the game come to life. The game uses some insane motion-captured facial technology that looked fantastic on last-gen platforms and still looks amazing today. Many real-life actors lent both their face and voice to the game, such as Vincent D’onofrio. Superb writing for each case and the overall story really are the focal point of this game.
The way L.A. Noire works is you are given a case and then set out to solve it. You start out with a crime scene, your pencil and paper, and head to the crime scene to look for clues and interrogate either potential suspects or witnesses. The interrogation process is a big focal point of the gameplay and breaks down into 3 different ways to respond: Good Cop, Bad Cop, and Accuse. When talking to a witness or suspect, after they answer your question, you can respond with one of these 3 actions. While the game will progress regardless of which one you choose, there is a correct way and an incorrect way. The correct way will lead to deeper things happening in the case, and potentially more arrests.
Due to this mechanic, you end up with a lot of replay value with L.A. Noire due to the fact that cases have numerous potential outcomes. This is good because while the game does incorporate an open-world, it’s nowhere near the level of something like Grand Theft Auto. You can use your vehicle to move to different locations, and there are a set number of “random” crimes that occur in the city (which involve shootouts and chasing perpetrators), but there’s nothing on the level of Grand Theft Auto to complete within the city. While this isn’t a bad thing, as it keeps the focus on the story and gameplay mechanics more so than exploration, it is worth noting: don’t expect a GTA-style experience with L.A. Noire.
As mentioned, graphically speaking L.A. Noire has some amazing facial animations and presentation. The graphics as a whole do show a bit of age, however, considering this was a last-gen title. L.A. Noire isn’t a full on graphical remaster like other remastered games, so there are some lower resolution textures and pop-up in the background that can be pretty prevalent in some areas. Occasional slow-down does pop up, but it’s pretty rare when it does and isn’t too noticeable. The audio is top notch however, with both high-quality voice acting, ambiance, and appropriate music for the time period.
The Switch version of L.A. Noire manages to stand out as unique in the fact that Rockstar implemented Switch-specific features. When playing with Joy-Cons, you have access to gyro-controls that are based on gestures which can help with immersion. There are even some touchscreen controls for when you are investigating crime scenes, allowing you to manipulate objects by touching the screen. Nothing groundbreaking, but nice little additions to the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
L.A Noire is a fantastic game that finds a home on the Nintendo Switch, and the portability aspect really helps. While each case is pretty large, the ability to save (along with auto-saves) at any time makes this a perfect game for on the go or at home. Rockstar put the effort into this port and it shows. Sure, it’s a bit of an older game and does show some age from time to time, but L.A. Noire is another great triple-A third party release that shouldn’t be overshadowed by games like Skyrim and DOOM. If you are looking for a fantastic story-driven game with unique gameplay, L.A. Noire should be in your Switch library.