Reviews PlayStation

L.A. Noire on PS4 Review - Something old, something new

LA Noire.jpg

Back in 2011, one of the best detective games ever made, L.A. Noire was released, presented by none other than Rockstar Games. At the time, L.A. Noire blew everyone away with its motion facial animation technology, which was definitely ahead of its time. Now, the game has been re-released for current-gen consoles including PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

The question is, does L.A. Noire on current-gen consoles live up to the game’s stellar reputation? That’s what I set off to discover on my PS4 Pro and now, I’m back from the neo-noir 1940’s Los Angeles with some mixed feelings.

Good Cop

Putting on the boots of LAPD detective Cole Phelps once again was, at first, a strange experience. The protagonist's story is an imperfect tale of struggles coping with returning from the war, being a “war hero” and adjusting to society and his colleagues, all while trying to figure out how he fits into the world now. In L.A. Noire on current-gen consoles, the story remains the same with its high points and low points.

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Still, the game is brilliantly paced between slower crime-scene investigation and shootouts with criminals. All the DLCs are included in the package, as well as new collectables and suits for you to unlock. I was hungry to rank up every time I played the game, trying to unlock more Intuition Points, new suits with special abilities and finding those hidden recordings.

The fantastic, intuitive crime-solving and crime scene inspection mechanics remain intact, with sound and change in music leading you to clues in the environment. It is, to this day, the best way, in my opinion, to handle a detective game as the mechanic just works beautifully throughout the 20 main cases.

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Interrogating suspects are as good as ever, where you have to watch their facial animations closely and use your intellect to ascertain the correct responses. Interrogation, which is a massive part of the game, sees the biggest change in the current-gen version of L.A. Noire. In the original, you had three options namely Truth, Doubt and Lie.

This version sees those options chance to Good Cop, Bad Cop and Accuse. Although the chance might not seem like a lot to some players at first glance, it is definitely massive.

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In the original, it was sometimes unnecessarily hard to pick the right option, and through this new system, I found it to be quite the bit easier as the design is more intuitive. Even so, the satisfaction of getting all the picks right the first time in a case remains grand and it kept me going for over 30 hours.

The graphical upgrades were enough to satisfy me, but for some, it might not be, as characters still look somewhat blocky and there are some minor glitches. On PS4 Pro, the game boasts 4K graphics that look absolutely fantastic at times, for example, brick walls and even cracks in the street are nice and detailed.

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Blood spatters look magnificently detailed, a definite improvement here over the original. Since you solve violent crimes throughout the game, there is definitely a lot of blood to go around and it is my second favourite upgrade.

Smoke and fog have, in my opinion, seen the greatest improvement. The city’s alleyways really shine as a result and there is just so much atmosphere going on that. Cigarette smoke looks great in the game now and since almost everyone smoked in the 1940’s. The music and sound are superb and the voice acting really shines throughout the game.

Unfortunately, even with all the upgrades, there are still some aspects of L.A. Noire that aren’t all that good.

Bad Cop

L.A. Noire was never perfect and that hasn’t changed with the release on current-gen systems. Although the game’s pacing is good, the story does have some bad parts, even terrible in some cases. Then, the city is also not as alive as I would have hoped and feels almost like an open world wasn’t even needed seeing as how story-driven the game is.

There are random street crimes to take care of if you wish and driving around can feel satisfying, but most of the time I found myself just chasing the main story, as the street crimes weren’t that satisfying of an experience. It feels as if L.A. Noire is still stuck in the past in some aspects, especially the clunky movement and combat (when in gunfights) that leaves quite a lot to be desired.

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Yes, the game has seen quite a few graphical upgrades as mentioned in the Good Cop section, but you can still, at times, see many jaggy textures and even texture pop-ins over short distances.

One graphical glitch I encountered was when chasing a suspect and I had to aim my gun at them to get them to stop and freeze. When the camera panned over to my character, the gun model simply wasn’t there. It looked like he was holding a pretend gun.  This issue only happened a few times, but it is definitely a bug that should probably have been sorted out after six years.

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Shadows sometimes flicker and look distorted, and while it is not a big deal, it can definitely be an eyesore at times. The draw distance looks to be increased, which makes driving around Los Angeles much nicer than before, but there are still times when you just see a billboard close to you pop into existence, breaking some of the immersion.

Cutscenes are still not skippable, which is extremely annoying at times. But why do you want to skip cutscenes you may ask? Watching them once is fine and I think everyone should who will be playing the game because it is an integral part of the story. However, when I accidentally picked up a newspaper again, a whole 2-minute scene replayed and I had no way to skip it. Further, if you fail I mission, you again have to go through the cutscene.

The Verdict

L.A. Noire on current gen consoles is basically the definitive experience, with all DLCs and even new collectables, some great quality of life changes, most noticeably the changes to interrogation as well as graphical upgrades. For all its improvements, L.A. Noire on PS4 still feels a bit stuck in 2011. If you didn’t play the original, then I recommended you play the game on PS4, Xbox One or Switch, because it is great.

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However, I am finding it very difficult to recommend the game for anyone who has played the original. Although the improvements do look nice, don’t expect at the game to look as good as even a 2015 AAA title. Keep in mind that the story remains the same and some parts of it, as well as some of the villains, are really not that great. That is especially true of the ending for me, but that is, of course, subjective. Movement still feels a bit clunky at times, especially during gunfights, while investigating a crime scene is as satisfying as ever, even a bit more so with a new way of inspecting objects.

In the end, L.A. Noire is still a great detective game and at times, it shines as bright as any game released this year. Other times, it falls a bit flat, but if you haven’t played it yet, then I strongly suggest you give it a try.

This review was based off a review key provided to us by Prima Interactive

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 14 November 2017 | RRP: R599

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"It feels as if L.A. Noire is still stuck in the past in some aspects"

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