LA Noire Switch Review

  • First Released May 17, 2011
  • Reviewed Nov 17, 2017
  • NS

The stuff dreams are made of.

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When it first released in 2011, L.A. Noire was an anomaly; its facial capture tech was an innovative showcase of animation, and it's focus on slower-paced interrogation puzzles widely contrasted the big-budget shooters of the time. Six years later, the game has surprisingly managed to make its way onto Switch. While a few sacrifices were made in performance and graphical fidelity to get L.A. Noire running, the ambitious spirit of this stylistic 1940s-era detective adventure remains.

L.A. Noire's principal 21 cases are all present, including all of its DLC cases. As budding LAPD detective Cole Phelps, you spend the bulk of your time gathering evidence, interrogating suspects, and making accusations. Phelps is a fascinating, yet morally flawed, character whose checkered past is compelling to see unfold as the story goes on. The cases you solve remain interesting and well-paced, balancing slower, more meticulous investigative moments with brief shootouts and vehicular/on-foot chases. On Switch, the game controls as well as it did on previous generation consoles, especially when playing docked with a Pro Controller. It also offers motion and touch controls, which are welcome additions that make L.A. Noire feel more involved. Motion controls allow you to use the right Joy-Con to control the camera and physically manipulate objects you pick up, while touch controls command Phelps where to go and what investigate by simply tapping the screen. However, both control schemes don't feel as functional as playing with a traditional gamepad setup.

Interrogations often lead to many of the game's most tense and captivating moments.
Interrogations often lead to many of the game's most tense and captivating moments.
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While L.A. Noire's story and varied pacing are some of its most exceptional aspects, where it truly shines is in its interrogation sequences. Armed with your intellect and the wealth of evidence you collect during your investigations, questioning suspects and seeing through their facial ticks to expose their secrets lead to many of the game's most tense and captivating moments. The facial animations hold up well, displaying a level of realism that's still impressive. And with top-notch performances from its facial capture actors, interrogations are just as absorbing and believable.

In a subtle change from the original, interrogation options have been changed from "Truth," "Doubt," and "Lie" to "Good Cop," "Bad Cop," and "Accuse." The new naming scheme helps to give you a better understanding of Cole's behavior towards a suspect's testimony, which was difficult to gauge in the original. The renewed context is particularly useful when a suspect is playing coy, where it makes sense that using the more forceful "Bad Cop" approach would root out more information. However, the new terminology isn't perfect. There are situations where it isn't specific enough; this is apparent when responding with "Good Cop", where the option seems to lean more towards believing the suspect rather than following proper police protocol. Despite this occasional issue, interrogations are consistently rewarding, often requiring critical thinking and sharp judgment to complete perfectly.

There still isn't much to do in the game's faithful recreation of 1940s-era Los Angeles.
There still isn't much to do in the game's faithful recreation of 1940s-era Los Angeles.

L.A. Noire's finer qualities are maintained, but its notable shortcomings also persist. Movement is a bit clunky during shootouts, and there are plenty of useless filler objects to sift through during crime scene investigations. But the most glaring issue lies in the game's recreation of 1940s-era Los Angeles, which is authentic but doesn't offer much to do outside of main missions and random street crime activities. New hidden collectables in the form of books and records have been added to the Switch version to encourage exploration, but it's not made clear that these items exist nor does the game encourage you to seek them out.

These issues don't do much to detract from the experience at large, especially considering how well the game runs and how good it looks. Visuals are reminiscent of the original version, only sporting new jagged edges, fluctuating textures, and noticeably weaker draw distances and dynamic lighting effects in some instances. However, these issues are less apparent when playing the game undocked, where it runs and looks the best.

No Caption Provided

Even considering L.A. Noire's age, it's a wonder that the game can be played on Switch.

On the other hand, frame rate maintains a steady 30 frames per second, only drastically dipping when surrounded by multiple NPCs or vehicles while on foot. Though, it's not a deal breaker, seeing as the game consistently performs well during the moments where it matters, like during investigations, interrogations, and car chases.

Even considering L.A. Noire's age, it's a wonder that the game can be played on Switch. While nowhere near as technically striking as seeing Doom run on the console, there's still something special about playing what was once such an ambitious game on last-generation consoles in the palm of your hand. And the game lends itself well to the platform; the bite-sized length of missions makes it a great fit for playing on the go.

If sharper visuals and higher frame rate are huge factors in your enjoyment, then you're better off playing L.A. Noire on PS4 and Xbox One, which sport added bells and whistles that elevate the game's performance. But if you're charmed by the idea of experiencing it portably, then L.A. Noire on Switch comes recommended. It may not work the best under pressure, but it's well worth replaying or experiencing for the first time on Nintendo's convertible console.

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The Good
Satisfying story with a compelling lead protagonist
Interrogations are engrossing
New naming scheme for interrogation options alleviates major issues from the original
Well-realized depiction of 1940s-era Los Angeles
Plays and looks great in portable mode
The Bad
Clunky movement during combat
Not much to do out in the open world
Visual and performance issues stick out in docked mode
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for L.A. Noire

About the Author

Matt played ten hours of L.A. Noire on Switch, managing to clear 11 of the game's 21 main cases. He's a huge fan of film noir; his favorites are The Third Man and In A Lonely Place. He's having a great time stepping back into the shoes of morally flawed LAPD detective Cole Phelps. A complimentary code was provided for the purposes of this review.
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Avatar image for naasum

because i prefer playing old games.

Avatar image for vegard1985

Might have bought this, even though I have it on PC... If they didn't demand full price for this ancient game. Seems to be a trend, where Nintendo expects people to pay 60 dollars / region equivalent for games released almost a decade ago. Of course there is work involved in porting games to the Switch, but I can't imagine it demands a full staff and a complete rework of everything from the ground up.

I guess it might be worth it, if you have nowhere else to play it, and have never played it before - or you just reaaaally want LA Noire on a handheld device.

Avatar image for urbanman2004

Good for you Switch owners

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0f8778f4162

Rockstar aren't a one trick pony which games like this and Bully prove.

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0f8778f4162

@PrpleTrtleBuBum:The city served merely as a knot to tie the world together, giving a sense of world building to tie the narrative together rather than just skipping to the next mission after completing the previous. More content would have been fine, but that's not what they were going for here. You are a detective and your job and duty is to serve, not some dude that has a lot of free time to sit in bars or do things on the side. The game is not meant to be GTA and that's a good thing.

Avatar image for h20-xcv

Nintendo is fucken garbage. Why do they keep trying to implement Xbox or Playstation games into kiddie crap consoles or devices that Nintendo makes.

I'm surprised its not another Mario or Zelda game. They have been milking those cash cows for years.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a26032528a9b


Avatar image for silv3rst0rm

This will be an awesome game to re-play through once it gets at a bargain price.

I'm not revisiting games that requires me to pay 70$ for it...

Avatar image for captainwonton

The review sounded more like an 8

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0f8778f4162

'Not much to do in the city' Game offers more than enough content in its campaign, don't see how having a more focused story over tons of filler content is a bad thing.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum

@dawnwatcher: But since they had the big detailed city they could have really done something. Some dynamic random crime (perhaps interrogations too) or at least bars with jazz concerts, old timey tv's with old shows and all that jazz.

After the story I started to roam around a bit thinking "Ok let's see now what we have here in the wide world" and about 20 minutes later I quit the game forever.

Avatar image for BloodMist

@PrpleTrtleBuBum: not every game needs superfluous nonsense.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum

@BloodMist: It's superfluous only if they make it so. There are ways to do dynamic missions a lot better than GTA's "random dude spawned in random spot and shot someone"

But Noire was great as it was, and any chance of proper sequel is dead so I digress.

Avatar image for BloodMist

@PrpleTrtleBuBum: well of course, you can make everything part of the world building in any type of game, really, one of the best examples is Star Wars Galaxies, a MMO from before the PS3 era. RDR did that amazingly, I'm just surprised it didn't become the standard, and Rockstar heavily regressed after that.

Avatar image for robbiejones

i dont mind an open world game that is more focused on the linear story ala mafia 2 etc. if theres one thing i cant stand is open world games that have mundane filler quests...

Avatar image for BloodMist

@robbiejones: Exactly, that's why I find the GTA series to be gigantically overrated, as like half the missions seem like filler. Love LA Noire though, it's a real gem.

Avatar image for brian_ghattas

I have a PS4 and a Nintendo Switch and I would buy the PS4 version unless you want L.A. Noire on the go. However, I don't feel L.A. Noire compares to GTA V or Red Dead Redemption to warrant a purchase at this time unless you never played the original on PS3/Xbox 360.

Avatar image for oasisbeyond77

ZzzzzZzz Game. The story is so bad too :(

Avatar image for deactivated-5a26032528a9b

Honestly, Rockstar does nothing for me like it does for most people. I just want to see a remaster of The Warriors.

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@pmcollectorboy: there is an HD upscaled version of the warriors on ps4.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a26032528a9b

@Xristophoros: Not quite the same, but I'll take it. I missed out the first time around.

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@pmcollectorboy: i think it's on sale right now actually... around $7

Avatar image for gamestar73

So the game controls better while docked with pro controller. But it looks better undocked. You could still use the pro pad using a stand setup undocked could you not! So from this awkward review, the best way would be to use the pro controller for best controls and it looks best visually on the tablet as oppose to a tv.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a411408acdf8

All these old games coming out on Switch... Why? Even for a full asking price.

Avatar image for longflopper

@LasDK: A lot of people buying a switch might only be Nintendo fans. Most of these games never made it to a Nintendo console until now.

Avatar image for DARREN636

@longflopper: I'm seeing mainly PlayStation owners buy the switch.

and they are very happy with it

Avatar image for djezhel619

@DARREN636: PC gamers too

Avatar image for vegard1985

@djezhel619: Yeah I primarily play on PC, and bought the Switch right after its release. I also have an Xbox One X, but always preferred PC. Nintendo has always had great exclusives though, and I've always bought Nintendo consoles for just that.

Avatar image for Bryjoered07

@djezhel619: Yep, I am a PC only gamer and just bought a switch, not sure why I would ever get LA Noire for switch though. I am more disappointed they are not updating the PC version as I own it and it is now inferior to the xbox one and ps4 versions.

Avatar image for externalpower43

@LasDK: Two reasons. They have nothing else and Nintendo finally has a system almost powerful enough to run 7 year old games.

Avatar image for barny0111

@externalpower43: ... finally!!!

Avatar image for BloodMist

@externalpower43: Speaking of which, there have been so many rereleases on the PS4 and Xbox One that I see absolutely no reason to actually buy them.

Avatar image for djezhel619

@externalpower43: And last years Doom oh yeah and Wolfenstein 2. Plus it has 2 games that have gotten many perfect scores. Need more salt?

Avatar image for soul_starter

"While a few sacrifices were made in performance and graphical fidelity to get L.A. Noire running"

lol what? How can it be a downgrade from 10 year old consoles? Oh nintendo lol

Avatar image for moviespot

@soul_starter: it's most likely downgraded from the ps4 and xbone port

Avatar image for soul_starter

@moviespot: Thats not what it says. Anyway, Switch isnt powerful enough to match the PS3 at its graphical best so 3rd parties need to stop with these mindless ports. The Switch success will be decided on how good its 1st part AAA releases are and how many there are.

Avatar image for moviespot

@soul_starter: so instead of making one port and downscaling it to the switch you're suggesting two completely separate ports were made? Sounds pretty illogical but not impossible.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide

@moviespot: Switch can handle any ps3 game.

Avatar image for agramonte

"less apparent when playing the game undocked"

Switch really is just a handheld. Just get the $8 dollars PC version. It is the best version. Use the other 42 for XenoBlade2.

Avatar image for doctor_mg

"Visuals have taken a slight downgrade compared the original version, sporting new jagged edges, fluctuating textures, and noticeably weaker draw distances and dynamic lighting effects. However, these issues are less apparent when playing the game undocked, where it runs and looks the best."

Uh..Gamespot. The Switch offers slightly higher draw distances, higher native resolution (i.e. less jagged edges), and higher quality textures. It looks like you may have a case for shadow sharpness, but there looks to be less banding on the Switch, and details like reflections and even lighting effects like bloom are improved on the Switch version.

It's a downgrade from the PS4 port, sure. But it isn't a downgrade from the original version.

Avatar image for Huantalahnmi

@doctor_mg: Thank you. Also, people doesn't seem to remember how this games did actually look on PS3...

Avatar image for fkguy300

if you're new to La Noire and you have a Computer, avoid the switch version. You'll probably like the PC version. The switch version of La Noire isn't very good.

Avatar image for paullyv

@fkguy300: I can play the Switch version in the bathroom though.

Avatar image for fkguy300

@paullyv: I can haul my computer into the bathroom too if I really want to game while i'm in there we :-) :-) :-)

Avatar image for dotWithShoes

@fkguy300: It's odd, GameSpot disagrees with you.. just saying.

Avatar image for ronaldmcreagan

I attempted to finish this game twice. Just couldn't do it.

Avatar image for jollyboy00


Thats a shame. I think LA Noire is at its best when you only play one or two cases in one sitting.

Avatar image for DARREN636

@ronaldmcreagan: me too

i loved the atmosphere and acting.

just couldn't be bothered to drive around

Avatar image for asylum83

@ronaldmcreagan it's not good. So disappointed that there wasn't much to do in the city

Avatar image for robbiejones

@asylum83: youre a detective though it makes sense that its more focused on the linear story within the city. i would of liked more interaction with shops etc like bowling or just getting a milkshake.

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L.A. Noire More Info

  • First Released May 17, 2011
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    L.A. Noire is a single-player detective game from Rockstar Games set on the infamous streets and in the smoke-filled backrooms of postwar Los Angeles.
    Average Rating8471 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate L.A. Noire
    Developed by:
    Virtuos, Rockstar Leeds, Team Bondi
    Published by:
    Rockstar Games, 2K Games
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence