L.A. Noire Nintendo Switch First Impressions: Impressive Detective Title Filled With Mystery, Secrets and Puzzles to Solve

Go out there and catch me some bad guys, sonny boy!

Game: L.A Noire

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar Games

Reviewed: Nintendo Switch

L.A. Noire is one of the most unique titles in all of the gaming media. It took a cool and interesting idea and turned it into one of the best titles of the last generation (PS3 and Xbox 360 era). Developed by the legendary studio of Rockstar Games – best known for their work on the Grand Theft Auto franchise – gamers will step into the shoes of Detective Cole Phelps and take on the criminal world of the 1940’s LA area. As old as the game is, originally released way back in 2011, it manages to feel fresh and toe to toe with other recently released titles. However, there are some clear indicators that this is an outdated title; Let’s start out with the game’s positives.

Like I mentioned before, L.A. Noire is seriously a unique title. Players will be searching for clues, arresting suspects, and even driving around a 1940’s take on LA. It’s surprising to see no one try to copy or mimic this formula, especially since it was critically acclaimed when it first released. If you have never played L.A. Noire let me give you a quick rundown of what the game is all about: You play as Cole Phelps, former army soldier turned cop that is looking to work his way to the top. When you start out the game you are a beat cop, just patrolling and do your job day to day until a case you solve gets you promoted. As you work your way up the latter – traffic, homicide, etc – the cases that you are investigating change.

Traffic cases will have you attending stolen cars, abandoned cars, etc while homicide cases will deal with murders. This was a great mechanic for the game because as soon as the game starts to get a little too repetitive or boring, Rockstar Games pulls the rug under your feet and give you new interesting case to follow. Pretty much all of the 26 cases are unique and will have you seriously asking yourself, am I accusing the right person or am I doing my job completely wrong.

The game truly thrives on these intense moments of finding clues to integrate your suspect with. Miss a clue, ask a wrong question or plainly mess up the conversation and you might be out of luck getting more answers from the suspect. Each dialogue choice is critical, and it makes the player stay on their toes the entire game.

Playing on the Nintendo Switch version of the game, it is also available for the PS4 and Xbox One, I could clearly see the comprises the studio had to make to have the game run on the Switch. Most of the game looks pretty good, but once your driving around the open world, that’s when the blemishes really start to show.

Pop-ins spawn in way too frequent, textures on buildings are not detailed, and the draw distance is really short. However, after seeing games like Skyrim and Doom on the Switch, it is obvious that this is how big Triple AAA games will run on the console. It’s a marvel to even have these titles on the console and on the go, but it does come with its fair share of problems.

Luckily, L.A. Noire is a game most played inside tight corridors and small areas, so the draw distance and pop in issue isn’t as bad as it could be. In my personal experience with the game, it is also better played in the handheld mode instead do the docked. Once docked the blemishes of the game pop out really strong.

Frame rate seems to dip slightly, pop-ins and draw distance are amplified to the tenth power, and the game doesn’t look as impressive as it did in handheld. The small 720p screen of the Switch seems to be the better option when playing L.A. Noire. Plus the developers added a slew of Switch exclusive features including motion controls, touchscreen capabilities, and more. However, I would suggest turning motion controls off as it was a burden to keep them on especially when in a firefight with some enemies.

L.A. Noire on the Switch is a great game for both fans who loved it the first time around and even more so for those who have never tried the game before. The game makes you think, collect clues, and read facial animations to tell if the suspect is lying or not. The cases you also come across are also great, there are some deep ones and it does get pretty crazy. The game shines in its detective gameplay but falls short when the other gameplay actually kicks in.

Shooting enemies and driving around the big empty world truly show the game’s age. If it was a modern game, the huge open world would be filled with tons of side missions to do, collectibles to find and much more. That’s not to say L.A. Noire doesn’t have stuff to do, there will be plenty of times that the dispatcher will call in for a street crime and will allow you to help out if you’re in the area and there are tons of landmarks to come across.

However, the game focuses on the detective gameplay. Learning the ropes will be fun and detecting the prime suspect from a mile away is always an awesome feeling. If you are not in it for the small talk and details like that, then L.A. Noire might not be for you. But if you are, then I can 100 % say go out and pick up L.A. Noire. The game is truly one of a kind and it is nice to see it back on the modern day consoles.

Have you picked up L.A. Noire yet? Did you play it when it originally released? Let us know what you think of the game down below!

Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.