Rockstar's debut Switch offering reveals the challenges facing a potential port.
The LA Noire remaster is available on PS4, Xbox One and their 4K mid-gen refresh equivalents, but the real story here is the Switch port and the fact that it's the first time we've seen an open word game of this type running on Nintendo's hybrid system. It's also Rockstar's debut title for the console, and we can only wonder what else the publisher has cooking for the system. Could the Grand Theft Auto games be in development for Switch? Is it even possible to successfully port those titles? The LA Noire conversion doesn't have all the answers, but it convincingly reveals some of the challenges any prospective GTA conversion might face.
As things stand, the original LA Noire was built on a custom engine designed with PlayStation 3's Cell processor in mind, and this version was the preferred console edition back in the day. It was quite a sight: PS3 managed to run a massive open-world built around an impressive facsimile of Los Angeles, with fully functioning day-night cycles, weather, physics, wandering NPCs and traffic systems. All this meant a heavy reliance on the machine's unique synergistic processing units - SPUs - and the end result is that the Switch version, reliant on just three available ARM CPU cores operating at 1GHz, can suffer from some obvious drawbacks.
But let's start with the good news. On Switch, you get a fully playable version of LA Noire, with a large, detailed world to explore - unlike anything we've seen before on a handheld. Surprisingly, this also renders at 1920x1080 when connected to a TV via docking - much like the base PS4 release, in fact. However, a dynamic resolution technique is in play, meaning Switch scales the pixel output based on rendering load - and at stress points that means a low point of 1440x1080. In other words, the game lowers its resolution on the horizontal axis alone, and faced with a busy street, it drops to 75 per cent of the full pixel-count overall. Still, even at 1440x1080, Switch is still resolving far more detail than PS3's native 1280x720.
LA Noire had a lot going for it - pulpy murder mystery cases to solve, an open world 1940s Los Angeles to explore, and that weird uncanny valley facial motion capture.
The thing I remember most, though, is its interrogation scenes. As Cole Phelps I sat across a table from my suspect and attempted to extract information using three button prompts - Truth, Doubt, Lie. And frequently I'd mess up.
LA Noire's new remaster - headed to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch next week - has rejigged this slightly.
Rockstar Games has announced 1940s detective game LA Noire for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and a spin-off virtual reality experience for HTC Vive. All three console games are coming 14th November. There's no date on the VR game.
Contains RDR, GTA Episodes, LA Noire, and Midnight Club: LA.
Rockstar Games has announced an anthology containing four of its most successful games of the last few years. This includes: Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, LA Noire, and Midnight Club: Los Angeles Complete Edition.
From the archive: Chris Donlan plays through L.A. Noire with his dad, who grew up in the city in the 1940s.
Editor's note: This week sees the re-release of L.A. Noire on PS4, Xbox One and Switch, and to mark the occasion we thought we'd return to Chris Donlan's piece on playing through the game - still one of the very best things ever published on Eurogamer, he'll hate me for saying - which first went live back in 2012. Enjoy!
You may have noticed that my splendid and lovely colleagues Oli Welsh and Martin Robinson have recently become embroiled in what may very well be the most polite argument in the history of the internet, debating whether or not 2011 has been a vintage year for gaming.
L.A. Noire promised much: an authentic recreation of 1940s Los Angeles, a detective story in the L.A. Confidential mould and faces so good you could tell when the characters were lying. Its launch was met with millions of sales and impressive review scores - but at what cost to publisher Rockstar, developer Team Bondi, and its controversial creator Brendan McNamara?
The controversial L.A. Noire developer faces the music in this frank new interview.
Brendan McNamara begins his Bradford Animation Festival 2011 presentation with a story. His first visit to Yorkshire was to Huddersfield as a much younger man, playing for a north London cricket team. He batted first - not McNamara's speciality, as he's more of a bowling man. As the bowler ran in, he put his foot forward to the pitch of the ball and tried to whack it as hard as he could, just as he'd been taught as a schoolboy.
"Hopefully I'll have something to announce pretty soon."
Brendan McNamara, founder of now shuttered developer Team Bondi and writer and director of L.A. Noire, is making the video game of what he describes as "one of the great untold stories of the 20th Century".
New Call of Duty: Black Ops map pack Annihilation headlines this week's massive PlayStation Store update.
Xbox 360 owners have had it exclusively for the past month. Available from tomorrow on PS3, its five new maps will cost you £11.49.
Looking for something a bit cheaper? Sony's massive summer sale reaches Europe this week, with more than 30 downloadable titles discounted over the next seven days. Highlights include Popcap's Peggle, Hothead's Swarm and Telltale's Sam & Max and Back to the Future.
Brothers Sam and Dan Houser, the founders of Grand Theft Auto maker Rockstar, have climbed The Guardian's annual list of the 100 "most powerful people in television, radio, newspapers, magazines, digital media, media business, advertising, marketing and PR".
It's a quiet week for the PlayStation Store. Sony's Welcome Back offer has ended and the company has now caught up with the backlog left by the PSN downtime.
There are no new PS3 or PSP games to download, but a few decent dollops of DLC.
A day after its launch on Xbox 360, PS3 owners can now investigate Rockstar's final L.A. Noire episode. The Reefer Madness vice case pits Cole Phelps against a city-wide dope ring and is free for those who own the Rockstar Pass.
Let's put it this way: I've seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. And I nearly cried. The film wastes no time getting to business - there's a bloody war going on. Potter 7 Part 2 packs a whole trunk of crash, bang, wallop. Perfect fodder for a video game. Only, don't expect the official Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 game to Wingardium Leviosa above the usual turgid memorabilia tie-in fare. We'd be Stupefied if it did.
The Team Bondi revelations shock few in the industry and that is a shameful thing.
Published as part of our sister-site GamesIndustry.biz's widely-read weekly newsletter, the GamesIndustry.biz Editorial, is a weekly dissection of an issue weighing on the minds of the people at the top of the games business. It appears on Eurogamer after it goes out to GI.biz newsletter subscribers.
Two former Bondi staffers, speaking to Eurogamer sister site Gamesindustry.biz under condition of anonymity, claim Rockstar's relationship with Team Bondi reached such a low point during the course of the creation of 1940s crime adventure L.A. Noire that it now has "disdain" for the Australian developer.
Nicholson Electroplating is like an extra spleen that's been cloned from the stem cells of L.A. Noire and grafted onto its armpit. Sure, it's a mighty fine spleen and all, but if you're just gonna stick it on there, don't be surprised when it fails to come alive.
L.A. Noire is an organism; it can't be broken up into modules. That's what makes L.A. Noire so special, and Nicholson Electroplating so not.
The Nicholson case, a downloadable add-on released this Tuesday, opens with a boom that spreads shrapnel and destruction across a half-dozen city blocks and lofts a mushroom cloud into the air. The epicentre of the blast is the titular metal-treatment plant, which is obliterated.
PlayStation 3 owners will be able to download a Sonic Generations demo from tomorrow, Sonic's 20th Anniversary.
Sega's Sonic Anniversary bundle also gets a 20 per cent price cut - it contains Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic 4 Episode 1, Sonic Adventure, the DX add-on and the Sonic 4 dynamic theme.
Also this week: Several big games get new DLC. L.A. Noire's Cole Phelps gets a new Arson Case, Nicholson Electroplating, to solve. Killzone 3's From the Ashes map pack adds four new locales - but no zombies. Mortal Kombat adds a "Klassic" skin pack, while LittleBigPlanet 2 gets Tron: Evolution gear.
Accusations have been levelled against L.A. Noire developer Rockstar and Team Bondi for leaving 130 developers out of the game's credits and for enforcing unfair work practices. These include making staff work 12 hour days as well as weekends.
For a game that features the latest in state-of-the-art motion capture and the remarkable in-game likenesses of over 400 actors, it's perhaps a touch ironic that the real star of the show isn't found in the 80 hours of digital performances captured for L.A. Noire, but rather in the superb openworld environment created by Team Bondi.
It's Wednesday, so it's time for our weekly roundup of cut-price games. This week's comprehensive selection includes a classic from yesteryear, a hidden gem that you might have missed at its lowest price yet, a cheap pre-order and a couple of new releases nicely discounted. If you want more cheap games pumped into your web browser around the clock, get yourself over to SavyGamer.co.uk, the home of cheap gaming in the UK.
"Team Bondi takes us into new territory with its use of extraordinary facial performance capture," said Oli as he worked his way towards an 8/10 verdict, "This results in spooky facial animation which really does make it possible for actors to communicate more of their performances, using eyes, tics and expressions."
Neither the PlayStation 3's 3.61 firmware update nor L.A. Noire itself are to blame for system crashes reported while playing Rockstar's new crime epic, according to a joint statement from the developer and Sony.
The detective thriller isn't new to video games. It was often spoofed or pastiched in the PC adventure games of the nineties, and it's recently been revived in a spate of 'visual novels' and casual puzzle games.
But there's never been such a high-profile attempt to bring this popular form of fiction to the video gaming mainstream as L.A. Noire. Rockstar's latest - produced by Australian studio Team Bondi - is pure police procedural. Cinematic production values, elaborate animation techniques and acting talent by the hundredweight have been brought to bear on the dogged business of collecting evidence, interrogating suspects and unravelling plots.
L.A. Noire's writer-director, Brendan McNamara, was one of the first to follow Rockstar North's trailblazing Grand Theft Auto III with his 2002 crime caper for Sony, The Getaway. Now under his inspiration's wing, he's succeeded in creating one of the more distinctive variations on the evergreen GTAIII template. L.A. Noire resembles a cross between GTA, Ace Attorney and Heavy Rain - and it's almost as interesting as that makes it sound.
Owners of L.A. Noire on PS3 may receive an exclusive traffic case called The Consul's Car.
Supporting evidence was pulled from PS3 shop boxes touting "exclusive content", plus a captured image (on Rockstar Network) - possibly from a video - that reads, "Get The Consul's Car traffic case only on PlayStation 3".
When confronted with the evidence, a Rockstar official on the company's website said, "Look for more details on that coming soon." Is that confirmation? It's not a denial.
It's easy to get a peculiar feeling when viewing a new Rockstar game for the first time. It's the feeling that what you're watching might change video gaming. This familiar feeling was creeping up my spine as I sat in a demo booth for L.A. Noire.
Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire will launch in the UK on 20th May.
A leaked trailer had this weekend already revealed a 17th May US release date. It is expected to officially go live at 5pm UK time this evening.
"L.A. Noire breaks new ground for us," said Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser. "Its intense blend of action and real detective work defies genre conventions to create a unique and captivating thriller."
Rockstar's 1940s crime thriller LA Noire may change how actors are captured and recreated in games for ever.
Developer Team Bondi is using groundbreaking technology developed by sister company Depth Analysis to capture all aspects of a performance at once - audio, visual and movement - and recreate them quickly and en-masse to characters in-game.
"Traditionally, one minute of facial animation could take a couple of animators a month. The idea is that we can mass-produce. We can produce about 20 minutes of final footage a day, and it's seamless - I don't even have character artists or animators working with me," Depth Analysis' Oliver Bao told Game Informer (via VG247).
L.A. Noire, the stylish new period drama from Rockstar, is no longer exclusively in development for PS3.
An Xbox 360 version is now planned too, according to US magazine Game Informer. In comments on a post about the magazine's new preview of L.A. Noire, editor Matt Kato wrote, "It's not a PS3-exclusive. It was at one point, but it's coming out for the PS3 and 360."
Fellow staff member Matt Bertz added, "To be clear, this is NOT a PS3 exclusive. Rockstar has another game called The Agent it announced last June that fulfills that role."
Could Team Bondi's moody-looking LA Noire be on its way to Xbox 360 as well as PlayStation 3? That's what raincoat-clad Internet detectives believe after a job posting on Gamasutra sought a lead animator and listed both platforms in a section about job details.
Rockstar and Team Bondi have released a full-length trailer for LA Noire, their upcoming next-gen crime thriller on its way to PlayStation 3 and possibly other consoles at some point in the future.
You can watch it now on Eurogamer TV, and although it looks like CG to us it should give you an idea of what to expect in terms of content and atmosphere, with the music and graphical approach in particular worthy of note.
LA Noire, of course, is under the direction of The Getaway creator Brendan McNamara, who departed Sony shortly after that game's completion and set up Team Bondi to work on games for PlayStation 3. Rockstar has yet to confirm formats or a release date for LA Noire, but it's expected to complete its journey to PS3 and probably Xbox 360 as well.
The Sydney-based development studio set up by The Getaway creator Brendan McNamara and some of his former team from SCEE's Soho studio has revealed its first title - a PS3 exclusive detective thriller called L.A Noire.
Brendan McNamara on how Team Bondi's top-secret PS3 project will be 'even more ambitious' than The Getaway - and won't take any less time to make...
Having just spent the past 10 days applying the Factor 20 and casually taking in the blissed out view of Chaweng beach through a pair of Spitfires, I can certainly relate to why Brendan McNamara and his Aussie cohorts would want to return to their Antipodean roots and remind themselves of the feel of Bondi beach sand between their toes.
Brendan McNamara, the Australian writer/director of multi-million selling London crime caper The Getaway, has returned home to set up a new Sydney-based development studio called Team Bondi and has started work on an all-new PlayStation 3 title.
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