I remember when I played the original L.A. Noire on my Xbox 360 a few years ago when I found it third hand at my local Cash Crusaders store. It was such an exhilarating experience and my wife urged me to play it every night after work just so that we could investigate the crimes and solve them. I never did get any DLC or extra missions for it, but the vanilla game was good enough to satisfy our inner detectives.
It is thus with great pleasure that we discovered that L.A. Noire was coming to PS4. It was with even greater pleasure when we found it on sale during a recent Black Friday event (even though we got it on the Monday at an even further reduced rate). And to our surprise, we found that the PS4 remastered version had every DLC we had missed on the Xbox included. Yes, Rockstar Games have made us excessively happy.
This review is less about the actual game itself and rather a remastered comparison against the original. Our score will also reflect the PS4 remastered edition and whether it is worth the buy, especially if you have already played the original version. Before we get to that, though, here’s the initial gameplay.
The story remains the same as the original. You are Cole Phelps, a US war veteran who returns to Los Angeles to live with your family. You start working with the LAPD on some cases. You impress the brass with a murder case and work your way up to detective. And then realise, something is really wrong.
As before, you search crime scenes for clues and place them in your notebook for further investigation. Everything else plays out as before, except when it comes to the actual interrogations. In the original, you had the option of Truth, Doubt and Lie when questioning suspects or witnesses. The Doubt option sometimes sent Phelps off the deep end, making us wonder what the hell was wrong with him.
The new system is Good Cop, Bad Cop and Accuse. Now when Phelps loses his cool in the second option, it makes a lot more sense. Other than this upgrade, the rest remains the same. You still have the open world to ride around in and explore, you still have the short action sequences that become repetitive, and you are still treated to the same discussions with your partners during missions.
The rest of the gameplay is pretty much the same too, if not perhaps slightly better with response rates while driving. Riding around Los Angeles is enjoyable, and your partner will direct you with which road to take by the click of a button. Sometimes the directing can be slightly off, depending on your timing, but is still far better than checking your map every few moments.
The largest impact of the remastered edition, as with most other remastered games, is the graphics. Everything has been given that current gen graphical upgrade, making the environments more stunning than before. Even the facial movements are better, meaning that you can now more easily see who is lying during an interrogation.
Sound had a major problem for me on the PS4 initially. During an investigation or chatting to my partner, the sound would suddenly dip down. At first I thought my television was playing up. But as I played further, the sound went back up. This happened in the first few cutscenes. For a remastered edition, this was really unacceptable, especially since the original never had this problem. I tested some of my other games, and it was only L.A. Noire that had this problem.
To be fair, I was playing while waiting for the initial huge update to be installed. I read online that the 13gb update had to do with the new photo mode that was included in the remastered edition, but I did notice an improvement with the sound once the update was installed. It is worth mentioning though, for those PS4 players who for some reason are not connected to the internet.
The PS4 version brings back that hardboiled, crime Noir atmosphere we enjoyed so much. With the improved graphics it is now easier to find clues, although I somehow missed bullets on a pavement that I swore was easier to see in the original version.
This is the crux of the review. Is it worth the buy, especially if you have played the original on the previous console generation? I believe it is. Even if you have played every DLC and run through the game a hundred times previously, it is worth playing it one more time in its remastered mode. I’ve read online that we can expect further updates and possible new missions in time to come, so if you want to be part of this brand new experience, I suggest you get yourself a copy and start playing through the missions as soon as possible.
A delightful return to a game much loved, I am glad to be able to do these missions again in higher quality and with some gameplay improvements.