On May 17th, 2011, Australian independent third-party developer Team Bondi worked alongside Rockstar Games to release a highly ambitious neo-noir detective open world action-adventure game on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Known simply as L.A. Noire, this unique title pushed both consoles to the limit and allowed players to experience the late 1940’s Los Angeles crime scene through the eyes of LAPD officer turned Detective Cole Phelps.
After spending extensive time with L.A. Noire Remastered, I’m pleased to say that this is still an intriguing title worth experiencing for those who haven’t played it yet. Here are a few more thoughts on what this package includes and why it’s worth the $39.99 price tag currently attached to it.
As I mentioned above, L.A. Noire follows the story of World War II Veteran Cole Phelps (played by Aaron Staton) shortly after he joins the Los Angeles Police Department and takes on the responsibility of solving cases inspired by real-life crimes. Cole starts out as a uniformed patrolman and slowly ascends through the ranks to cover Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson related cases.
Players are expected to investigate crime scenes, interrogate witnesses, chase after criminals on foot or by car, and engage in both hand-to-hand combat and intense shootouts with adversaries. After completing each case, players receive a rating of 1-5 stars depending on both their interrogation and investigative performances. There are a total of 26 cases across five different crime desks, 40 additional street cases and a lengthy 20-25 hour campaign depending on how fast you complete each mission.
If there’s one single aspect that I find flawed about L.A. Noire then it would be the overall narrative structure of the game and how it ultimately concludes. Cole often has flashbacks about his days in the army and some character relationships are revisited in the present time to provide more context. These back and forth sequences lead to a convoluted plot that may be hard to follow for those who aren’t paying attention. On the other hand, others may enjoy the story for what it does offer so ultimately you’ll have to experience it for yourself to form your own opinion.
When it comes to gameplay, this remaster is essentially the same as the original with the exception of a few notable changes to the interrogation options. The Truth, Doubt, and Lie options have been changed to Good Cop, Bad Cop and Accuse to better reflect Phelps’ behavior towards suspects. It was a smart decision to update this system as it simplifies the interrogation process even further for those who might have been confused by it before.
Graphically, L.A. Noire Remastered still looks fantastic from start to finish. The MotionScan technology that was successfully implemented in the original game still holds up remarkably well and certain things like landscape textures and vehicle details have all been upgraded. If you own a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, you’ll gain the luxury of experiencing this thriller in 4k and even if you don’t own one of these enhanced consoles, you’ll have full HDR support on the regular PS4 and Xbox One S.
Rounding out the list of additions to this remaster are two new trophies or achievements, four unlockable outfits and a vehicle showroom menu option that’s a nice reminder of all the cars that you now have access to in the game. If you’ve only played the original game and none of the previously released DLC, you’ll also be pleased to know that all of the content is included and the price of this particular package is very reasonable.
Overall, L.A. Noire is nothing short of a great remaster that blends contemporary noir filmmaking techniques with a mature mystery genre that many love and appreciate. Of all the detective games that I’ve played so far, this still stands out as an ambitious effort that is definitely worthy of both your time and money. Hopefully, Rockstar does intend to make a sequel as I would be very curious to see how they can build upon the formula already established here.
This review was based on a digital review copy of L.A. Noire Remastered for the PlayStation 4 provided by Rockstar Games.