Waaaaay back in 2011, gamers were wowed by L.A. Noire, an ambitious mix of adventure game, GTA-style open-world action, and cutting-edge performance capture technology. It was grand, it was expensive, it was controversial, it took years to make, and it was a big hit. But like everything in gaming, it quickly faded as new games popped up (especially once Grand Theft Auto V gripped fans just a few years later). However, now it’s back, with PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and VR versions headed to shelves in November. So if you missed it the first time, should you pick it up?
That’s a tricky question. In some ways it’s a very compelling game, especially in the interrogations. Some absurdly advanced motion capture technology was used to render faces in the game, and interrogations often hinged on reading subtle facial and vocal cues. The plot follows war hero Cole Phelps as he builds a career in the Los Angeles Police Department, and begins, like in all good mysteries, to tie together seemingly disparate stories into the real plot behind it all. It’s also a massive love letter to film noir, as you might have guessed, with nods ranging from the subtle to outright lifting shots from Double Indemnity.
That said, the game has always felt undercooked in some respects. Sure, it’s fun to sprint around the set of Intolerance, but why are we platforming in a game where the main selling point is subtle interrogation and assembling evidence to solve a case? Why is there even an open world when most of the plot is on rails? In a lot of respects, it tried to do a few too many things at once. Perhaps a better question is why, six years after the original arrived, is it coming back? Is Rockstar considering a second trip to the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles? We can only hope, and either way, it’s good to see games available on more platforms. Hey, maybe they can follow up on a certain crossover?