The Nintendo Switch is this year’s hottest new gadget, and while a lot of players are still zooming around as Mario, it’s time to gear up for a November filled with excellent third party offerings. In the midst of this is Rockstar’s L.A. Noire, which is shaping up to be a fantastic fit for the hybrid system.
L.A. Noire on Switch is a different type of beast when compared to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and HTC Vive offerings. While the latter is a completely different experience in itself, the former two include native 4K support for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, alongside a handful of graphical upgrades and quality of life additions. Of course, the Switch can’t quite compete with the beefy offerings of its console brethren, but it doesn’t need to in this instance. What’s on offer here, then, is the complete L.A. Noire experience, packed with all of the game’s DLC and new, extra little collectibles and additions to experience throughout 1940’s Los Angeles.After getting 30 minutes of hands-on time with it recently, I’m happy to say it runs and feels brilliant on the hardware.
My first five to ten minutes of the game was spent playing in docked mode, with a native resolution of 1080p/30fps. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, even considering it’s been six years since it released. This was also the first time I’d really used the Switch’s comfort grip for a game of this type and it did take some time to adjust, but it wasn’t detrimental to the experience in any notable way.
Making my way through the detective offices and taking control of the game’s protagonist, Cole Phelps, I ventured out into the city, taking on one of the game’s later cases: The Red Lipstick Murder. I was surprised at how great the game looked outside as well, especially considering the size of the Switch and its mobile processor. A slight lack of antialiasing meant jaggies were visible every now and again on gutters and benches, but, again, that didn’t take away from the game experience all that much.One thing I did notice was that, while making my way towards the crime scene in one of Los Angeles’ hilly areas, there was slight framerate slowdown in docked mode. It wasn’t all that noticeable in the intermittent period, but did come to fruition every now and again as I made my way through the preview and is worth mentioning.
Having reached my destination, it was time to throw the joy-con grip away and give freehand joy-con use a go, mainly to showcase the game’s motion control tech. The game allows you to turn on free aiming, which is guided by the right joy-con, closely resembling Splatoon 2-esque gyro movement. However, rather than just vertical aiming like in the aforementioned squid shooter, you were able to use the joy-con to aim in all directions, which felt fluid enough and really neat on a big TV. Similarly, HD Rumble was also present, notifying you of clues when you stumble across them. Both of these features feel like welcome inclusions in the game, and really rounded out what’s shaping up to be a quality offering.
After I gave the motion controls a go and dabbled with the game’s use of HD Rumble, I was then able to grab the tablet and give handheld mode a shot. I noticed some obvious downscaling while in handheld mode, but nothing that deterred too far from the graphical fidelity seen while the game was docked. The game generally looks great, and while the muted tones can be tiresome for some, it’s tonally appropriate for what the game’s pushing across consistently — a dark, gritty take on 1940’s Los Angeles.
Handheld mode also allows you to make use of the Switch’s touchscreen, too. By swiping across the screen you can move the camera, while tapping once will have Phelps walk around, and a double tap will have him inspect an item. Further, you’re also able to interact with items via the use of the touchscreen, moving pages and flicking through your book as you please. It’s not something I’ll be making too much use of overtime, but it’s still a neat inclusion that works well.
I also noticed, having ventured back into the city, that performance seemed to be better in handheld mode. Perhaps this was just out of circumstance, but it’s worth mentioning given the small issues I had with docked mode initially. Everything felt smooth and controls were intuitive throughout my time in handheld mode, and I feel like I’ll be spending most of my time making use of this particular play style when the game launches next week.
Apart from the aforementioned new additions, what you’re getting with L.A. Noire on Nintendo Switch is close to the same game that came out six years ago, with all of the DLC included. Having a game like this on the go, though, should be a nice change to what’s on the market currently, and the Switch-specific improvements are all shaping up to be for the better.
A game like L.A. Noire is perfect for the daily commute or the long-haul flight, and even though I was playing on pre-release code it felt extremely smooth (for the most part), polished, and well-suited for the system. MicroSD requirements aside, all signs say L.A. Noire on Switch is something fans of open-world, story-focussed games should be looking forward to checking out next week.