Reviews November 28, 2017

L.A. Noire (Remastered)

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Reviewed By: Andre Thomas
System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, Switch)
Genre: Action Adventure
Rated: M
Players: 1
Cost: $39.99
Release Date: 11/14/2017
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games/Virtuos

Before we received our review copy of L.A. Noire, I was just a typical Xbox One owner. You know…a person who enjoys the current landscape of games while also contemplating buying an “evolved” version of that console. When I received word that I would be reviewing Rockstar’s remastered version of L.A. Noire, I was beyond stoked to jump back into fictional 1940’s Los Angeles crime scenes. This was especially true considering its updated visuals; I thought the original version looked incredible when it was released years ago. Long story short, I ended up buying an Xbox One X in order to experience the game in 4K. And while I wouldn’t advise anyone to upgrade just to play L.A. Noire, I certainly feel like the purchase was worth it; the game looks freaking gorgeous!  

I won’t delve too deeply into the story because this is a remake, but here’s a gist of what the game is about. You are Cole Phelps, a World War II veteran turned LAPD officer trying to find his way back into civilian life/find something meaningful after being in a war. As you rise up the ranks in the force, you’ll need to survive a failing marriage, mobster hits and corrupt officials – all while trying to solve some of the most mind-boggling crimes ever written in fiction.

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Team Bondi (the original developer) and Rockstar not only brought about an amazing narrative but also the means of delivering a sense of realism not seen in any other game at that point. That isn’t hyperbole, as L.A. Noire was the first video game ever to be shown at the Tribeca Films Festival due to its story and the advancement in facial animation technology in games. A character’s facial expressions have never been more important than they are in this game…
 
What made L.A. Noire such a huge hit was how much detective work was actually required to solve a crime. This isn’t your typical cop game where you have a linear finish to every crime. You will have to search for you own evidence and pay close attention to every person you come across during an investigation. Yes, there are action sequences and such but it isn’t GTA. You are a detective, so you are solving already completed crimes which don’t usually involve interaction with the criminals themselves until they are being interrogated. That said, I enjoyed finding clues and interrogation even more than the action sequences due to the amount of depth that is put into each investigation.

What’s also great is how well each role is voiced, with awesome acting made more believable via facial animations. There is so much emphasis put on eye contact, emotional changes during a conversation, etc. that you can’t get caught up in the norms of today (like checking your twitter) while interacting with people in-game. I took my eyes away from the screen once to chase my son and apparently missed a suspect smirking a bit while lying about part of an investigation.

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This attention to detail was lauded back in 2011. Now imagine the enhanced 4K version; I nearly skated through the game once I obtained my Xbox One X as I could easily read almost every single expression on each character’s face. With updated button prompts now saying “Good Cop”, “Bad Cop”, and “Accuse” (as opposed to the vague Truth, Doubt, and Lie options) there was significantly less room for error when choosing the proper line of questioning. This meant that my wife and I could be sure of our assumptions as we examined facial expressions after asking questions and/or revealing our acquired evidence. I say “we” because of how inviting L.A. Noire is. The story and voice acting can be enjoyed even if you aren’t the person holding the controller.

Rockstar games does an incredible job of making sure every one of their titles feels similar yet completely different from one another. Most of them feel “real” even if their narratives are farfetched. Their usual treatment of an open world – though with adjusted gameplay focused on detective work – fits perfectly with the backdrop of the 40’s. Similar to Mafia III, the city looks and feels like a place in time where I wouldn’t have been able to live as freely as I do now (being a person of color). I say that with certainty because L.A. Noire does a fantastic job of showcasing the issues people faced back then. There are still some campy elements of course. Like charming characters that while based on real people, are also caricatures of their real-life counterparts. All of it blends into a memorable experience, even years later.

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If it isn’t obvious enough, L.A. Noire is just as great today as it was when it originally released. The enhanced visuals, alone, makes the game worth the price of admission. They could have just gave me the original game and I would have been totally fine. But to make gameplay adjustments and 4K enhancements…their desire to improve on what came before says a lot about Rockstar (beyond gearing up for a possible sequel, if the game sells well). It’s a no brainer for me, L.A. Noire was great before. Now it’s a classic!

Gameplay: 10
L.A. Noire is just as entertaining as was years ago…even more so!

Graphics: 10
The game looks great on the Xbox One. It looks amazing on the Xbox One X!

Sound:10
The voice acting is on par with a Hollywood film. The soundtrack and sound effects are great to as they literally play a part of every crime.

Replay Value: 8
Once you have figured out how to solve the crimes, it’s a bit of a breeze. But playing though it again in black and white changes the overall feel. Plus, this version comes with all of the previously released DLC, giving you more reasons to keep playing.

Final Score:

9.5