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L.A. Noire Nintendo Switch review

Developer: Team Bondi

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Port was achieved with the help of Virtuos and Rockstar games working together

Release Date: 14th November 2017

Price as of Article £44,99 $49,99

L.A Noire is the story of a beaten man, a man named Michael Phelps whose story throughout the game is told in a series of flashbacks of his campaign during the war where he was a USMC veteran. Back from his tour in the war, you take control of the protagonist as a beat cop who makes his way up through the ranks to detective.You will take on a number of cases within the LAPD through differing departments.As you continue you will learn about Phelps past, his present and future. The story is told through a series of 21 cases which you will have to solve to progress the story further.

In the 1940s the mob was prevalent and cases will revolve around brutal murders, arson, and conspiracies some of which were based on real cases. This was a time for L.A which had it’s fill of corruption and violent crimes. It helps the character is well developed and the story plays out as if you were watching a 1940s noire movie. In this respect the game is very impressive and Team Bondi back in 2011 did an incredible job. I wonder what they would have been capable of today had the company not folded.

Its clear from the very beginning that the audio had a lot of work put into it. First of all the voice work is incredible, all of the actors who took part in this deserve huge credit for telling the story with such confidence and this makes it much easier to immerse yourself. Countless times I had to remind myself this is a game and not a film. When a new case starts and your sat listening to the case details I felt like I was part of the LAPD. The narration is delivered expertly well and you just cannot wait to find out more.

The music here is typical 1940s and Team Bondi have recreated the decade absolutely on point. Click on the picture and do yourselves a favour and listen to the main theme to see how this transports you away. We have an assortment of incredible blues and Jazz tracks. Simon and Andrew Hale who composed the tracks have made this feel an absolutely authentic experience and for me, music and sound are integral to painting the picture of the times.

It has been nailed here, it’s spectacular how the music is composed to match what’s going on in-game. Find all the clues at a scene and you will hear an audio cue. Drive in your car and you will have the recreation of 1940s radio stations playing.  The soundtrack is available to purchase and if you enjoy blues and Jazz I highly recommend, purchasing the soundtrack and playing this one relaxed evening with a glass of wine closing your eyes and just listening to those wonderful stress relieving melodies. A stellar audio performance from this game and I have no complaints here at all. It will, of course, be dependent on tastes but sometimes you have to sit back and admire the work even if it’s if this music is not your thing.In a world full of trashy pop songs filling up our charts it’s refreshing to listen to a wonderfully composed soundtrack for a change.

In terms of sound effects, it’s triple AAA standard stuff from the authentic sounds of your 1940s vehicle to gunshots during shootouts. I enjoyed the sounds used when having a fist fight as it sounds really satisfying when delivering a punch straight to the face. Or when you’re walking around the LAPD station, the comments made by other officers make it feel lively.

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The visuals here have been slightly upgraded to what we had back on the PS3 and 360 back in 2011. This is by no means the prettiest game you will ever see but there is a grittiness to it which is exactly what was aimed for. The city of L.A to my knowledge is pretty much a faithful recreation to the point you will often need to stop while driving your vehicle to check out the local sights and architecture. This game includes a new over the shoulder camera angle which is a wide angle for a better view of crime scenes which is welcome.

The character models and revolutionary facial animations at the time for me hold up to this day and I still think they are insanely good. I am still in awe at how well the facial expressions of the characters display almost lifelike qualities. As a lot of the game is about the integration of suspects it was imperative that they got this right and wow did they! I have always been interested in how facial expressions link to when a person is telling the truth or lying. I guess playing poker has a lot to do with that interest. I like to try and read what’s going on and this game is no different. Can you tell when someone is telling the truth or lying? what tells do these characters have, those movement of the eyes are looking shifty you may say to yourself, the voice acting and detailed expressions will give you a good clue but you will need to do the rest.

The crime scene settings all look fantastic and every detail is covered however there are some really gruesome scenes which you need to be aware of. Searching for clues on a dead body, let’s face it isn’t for everyone.

In terms of performance, this is a topic which is at the forefront of many peoples minds right now. We are always listening and take note of what you, our watchers, readers and subscribers are telling us. Now if you own an Xbox one X, Xbox one or PS4 you will be able to buy L.A. Noire as it’s been remastered for those systems. If you are not bothered about portability and you want the best graphics then buy the game on one of those systems as the visuals are of course better. Of that, there is no doubt. I will come back to the age-old question for Switch and that’s how important is portability to you? For me it’s necessary, I do not have time to play traditional systems due to the nature of my job, family circumstances etc so I get a spare minute in when I can. That may be sat up in bed, in the car when my partner drives or whatever you get the point. It’s the only way we have time to run this channel.

If you own a switch already then I guess that’s also important for you. The port is very good and Virtuos and Rockstar games have worked hard to make it as good as possible on Switch.I did encounter screen tear from time to time or objects in the distance taking a while to load up. There were times when the frame rates dropped. Did it spoil my experience? For me, it did not but for some it’s important and I must stress it was rare here. No doubt people will tell you or me that the Switch cannot handle this game. I beg to differ from that viewpoint. I am certain it can but this is a 6-year-old engine and even with a fresh coat of pain there is no hiding that fact. You only have to look at recent ports of Doom to know the Switch can handle newer engines with minimal hiccups. The fact Wolfenstein is coming to Switch in 2018 tells you all you need to know so don’t let it concern you too much. The Switch is quite capable. The sooner we stop comparing to PS4 Xbox One and PC’s in my view the better.

In handheld mode this game is a joy to play because it has been adapted so you can use touch controls. This proves useful when you are using your notebook or searching for clues at a crime scene. There is also use of the Gyro and motion controls. To be honest, though I always reverted back to just using the analogue sticks. I just don’t like fingerprints on my Switch!

When looking at this game it’s easy to look at the sections of driving around LA in a car and thinking OK this is GTA but set in the 1940s. Let’s get this out the way, while the driving parts feel a little similar the game is a much more linear experience and the driving sections are really just there to get you to the next crime scene or find evidence at certain locations. You can use your notebook to set the location you need to get too and this will be shown on your mini-map.

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In fact, if you wanted to too, you don’t have to drive at all. You can get your partner to do it all. However, you would miss some of the sights and side missions which crop up on the radio.

The main focus here is similar throughout. Get a case, drive to the scene, investigate for clues which the game shows as a magnifying glass when you come across something of potential interest. The game also makes fantastic use of the rumble controls. Pick up and item and manoeuvre the camera around the item until the joycons start to vibrate and you have to hold the camera in that position for the camera to zoom into that particular items point of interest.  Really good use again of the Switches hardware features and I am glad that these touches have been added as it all adds to the experience.

The main focus is to find as many clues on each case as possible. This may mean searching for items in each scenario, to questioning a potential witness and really that’s the meat of the game. Questioning has been changed from previous versions of the game but only slightly. In the older versions, you would be able to choose 3 potential options when questioning a witness. It used to be truth, doubt and lie. Now its good cop, bad cop or Accuse. I am not sure what I prefer in all honesty. It’s in your interest to find as many clues as possible before questioning potential suspects as it will make it easier. Sometimes if you get it wrong it can be frustrating as it really is quite a skill. No game has ever made me feel like I was a proper detective. To this day there is nothing quite like L.A. Noire.

Within the game you will get into the occasional brawl, shootouts car chases, people chases and you can drive of course from location to location which by the way for some weird reason I was trying to obey traffic laws! Actually quite difficult! You could level that the game is slightly flawed as to some it may feel a little repetitive and you have to be patient here. This is a slow burner but I have a different view and believe while it is a more linear game, I enjoyed discovering more of the story and trying my best to solve each case to the best of my ability. Each case is different to the last and while each case more or less follows the same formula I don’t personally think it’s a bad thing and didn’t find myself getting bored.

L.A. Noire is exactly the type of games I want to see on Switch in future. The switch is showing that there is an audience for games with adult themes and the time of me writing this review the game was already 8th in the sales charts.

If you buy the cartridge version of the game then you will need another 9 gigs free on your system which is just something to be aware of.

The game is £44,99 or $49,99 which is a tripe AAA price but for me you are getting fantastic product here which can be played on the move. This is an excellent port with very few technical hiccups. The fact that the Switches capabilities have been used to complement the game is a great use of the system. I am in no way suggesting you double dip if you own this game already but if you have never played it and fancy solving cases on the move then there is no complaint about the value. There are extra outfits to unlock over the original which have special abilities and also new collectables. In terms of replayability, I can see many perfectionists wanting to perfect their case score, so there is replayability here. You’re looking at putting in 20 hours to complete the main story and if you want to perfect it add another 20 to that. Add another 4 hours for the DLC which is included. Fair value I would say.

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