On May 17, 2011, Rockstar Games published a neo-noir detective title called L.A. Noire on seventh generation consoles (with a Windows port a few months later). During its initial release, the slow-paced title reached critical acclaim and was one of the more ambitious titles released that year. Over six years later, Rockstar Games decided to re-release the title on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and (to much surprise) the Nintendo Switch and thankfully, it’s not a bad port for Nintendo’s hybrid console.
Visually, I found L.A. Noire to be appealing even as a remake; while it isn’t pushing 4K visuals like the Xbox One X iterations of it, I found the graphics to be acceptable given the specs inside the Nintendo Switch. Although this version is not as impressive as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version, there is a noticeable difference in lighting when you compare it to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.
Porting a game over to a less powerful console is always a high risk, high reward, and that rings true for this title. The payout was massive for Rockstar and L.A. Noire on Nintendo Switch. To date, this is one of the best AAA third-party ports I have seen thus far on the fledgling console. Similar to its other versions the Nintendo Switch version offers all 21 cases, with several features available exclusively to this particular version, which utilizes all the unique features the Switch has to offer.
With everything the Nintendo Switch has to offer, many changes had to be made to implement all that the console had to offer full, and it works very well. However, the controls and touchscreen features that are available in the handheld mode are is what makes L.A. Noire shine the most.
One of the most significant changes made to L.A. Noire that make it distinctive from just a “copy and paste” port is that that the interrogations have been reworked entirely. Instead of the original choices (“Truth,” “Doubt,” or “Accuse”), they have been reorganized to “Good Cop,” “Bad
” and “Accuse.” This change doesn’t affect how L.A. Noire progresses, however it does alter Detective Phelps’ reactions to certain options. Overall this is a change I liked; I felt that the “Doubt” option made Phelps a bit melodramatic in the previous versions, so it’s nice that he’s keeping a more level head this time around.
The story overall is still the same; nothing too big has been touched other than the interrogations. While some people would like to see some evolution of plotlines in a re-release, I like Rockstar’s true-to-form approach. In an age where games are (trying) to become more realistic and immersive, the dialogue options are one of the many crucial things that make the game more believable.
For the most part, L.A. Noire controls incredibly well. One of my biggest complaints from the original versions where the stiffness in movement and combat and I am thankful that this was addressed. However, the game did have some struggle driving. For example, when playing with the Pro Controller, I often felt like breaking it because it felt that it did not register the button command until after I let go of the button.
Going back to the touchscreen controls, it indeed piqued my interest when I got word of it. Being able to get some hands-on time with it (finally), my verdict was clear: I loved it. At times, I felt like I was playing Sam and Max —, one of my favorite point-and-click games. Getting to scroll around and look at the evidence was also a nice new feature that you cannot experience on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles either.
Now, if you are playing with the Joy-Cons, the controls are at its most precise; the motion controls add additional precision that you can’t experience with any controller. With this in mind, you can tell Joy-Cons were the primary focus when making the Switch port. That isn’t a criticism, by the way, but it shows when you compare the movements from the Pro Controller to Joy-Cons.
That being said, while the controls have been improved from the original release, a lot of the issues that I had back in 2011 are still here. Shooting in L.A. Noire, though slightly better with motion controls, again fails to provide the immersion that I was this bad-ass cop. Though the motion controls are impressive, they still feel a bit archaic — especially when I am fighting with the camera. Nonetheless, they aren’t to a point where you should avoid them entirely; they are still pretty adequate controls that should not be prevented, especially if you want to play this game with motion controls.
The bottom line is that it is a fantastic port, sure it has some flaws but it is an ambitious project by Rockstar. If you owned L.A. Noire back when it launched on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 and you happen to own a Nintendo Switch then yes, I would recommend picking this up. However, if you own another current-generation console and motion controls aren’t a game-selling feature, then you are better off with the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One version for that reason. Not to mention that those versions are $10 less than the Switch version’s $49.99 current purchase price.
Overall, L.A. Noire is one of the better third-party games the Nintendo Switch has to offer. The fact that L.A. Noire got a fresh coat of paint (albeit minor when compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One graphics) means it is still visually appealing to the eyes. The fact that Rockstar put some love into implementing the Switch’s features was a nice touch that makes this the most distinctive version when compared to the other five versions. For this being Rockstar’s first title on the Switch, it was probably not a disappointment, and I look forward to future games on the Switch from this company.