Rockstar planning PC-only VR version of L.A. Noire

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Rockstar’s first foray into the uneven world of virtual reality isn’t a GTA spin-off, or a brand new game, but instead VR version of Rockstar and Team Bondi’s 2011 detective romp, L.A. Noire [official site]. While the current generation of consoles are getting the whole game with added 4K support and the like, over on PC we’re in for a trimmed-down version redone as a Vive exclusive.

L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files sees seven of the game’s ‘cases’ remade for VR, each of them self-contained. I’d assume, given the last part, that it won’t contain the game’s broader tale of Detective Cole Phelps’ multiple falls from grace.

Here’s what Rockstar have to say about it:

L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files for HTC Vive delivers seven of the original engrossing, self-contained cases from L.A. Noire rebuilt specifically for virtual reality, blending breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience.

It strikes me that the investigative portions of the game in particular seem like a good fit for VR’s capabilities and limitations. The player-controlled pace and the tactile nature of searching for clues are obvious boons for VR’s combination of limited mobility and motion controls. I’m less sure about the “breathtaking action”, however, as I’m yet to play an action game in VR that doesn’t make me need to sit down for 20 minutes and collect myself.

Back in 2011, Alec wrote in our L.A. Noire PC review that “LA Noire is a stylish and exceptionally clever game, but unfortunately most of that cleverness is trapped within its own head: a mad professor who becomes exasperated at his faithful assistant’s endless incorrect guesses, but who never thinks to explain how his crazy mind really works.” A game big on ambition and fancy tech for sure, but it’s never quite been considered Rockstar’s finest hour – making this one of their more surprising re-releases.

The PS4 and Xbox One versions of the complete L.A. Noire promise “a range of technical enhancements for greater visual fidelity and authenticity, including enhanced lighting and clouds, new cinematic camera angles, high resolution textures and more”, but it’s unclear as yet whether these will go beyond what’s possible with a maxed-out PC version of L.A. Noire. Certainly, no new version of the entire game has been announced for PC, but, seeing as the new console versions don’t contain any extra cases or story, fingers crossed for a PC patch that puts everything on a level playing field.

The console editions are due out in November, but there’s no release date for the VR Case Files yet.

43 Comments

  1. GameCat says:

    Since you mention console versions of L.A. Noire, it’s worth noting that it also will be released on Switch.

  2. Addie says:

    Hopefully they can get rid of the 30 fps lock that the original had, because otherwise there’ll be a lot of very unhappy VR’ers. And if they can back-port the fix for everyone else, that would be good too.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      That’ll be… interesting. The reason for the 30fps limit was that the facial animations were actually video files, recorded at – you guessed it – 30fps. They could interpolate I suppose but they were already compressed to buggery.

      • GetUpKidAK says:

        That sounds like garbage.

        • GenialityOfEvil says:

          Apparently the uncompressed footage amounted to 1GB per second. They recorded 50 hours worth.
          link to electronics.howstuffworks.com

          • KenTWOu says:

            Calling it video files is a wrong way to put it. It’s just L.A. Noire has locked animation framerate, because each animation frame contains tons of information in it, because of the way they rendered faces. So if you unlock the game frame rate above 30 fps, all facial expressions will look jagging or choppy. The issue is similar to the first Halo, which had locked framerate for enemies animations, or to the first BioShock, which had locked framerate for the physics engine.

          • GenialityOfEvil says:

            No, they were literally video files. MotionScan isn’t like motion capture, it doesn’t make digital records of a collection of animation anchors, it literally stores a video recording of the face which is used as a texture, frame by frame.

          • KenTWOu says:

            1:54 “we go from 2D videos to 3D meshes”.

          • GenialityOfEvil says:

            Yes… the videos are composited to generate a 3d mesh for each frame, with the composites themselves used as a texture. Hence the 30fps limit. That’s what I said.
            That’s not in any way comparable to Halo or any other game.

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        Henke says:

        I guess they could lock it at 60 or 90, and then just update the facial animations every 2nd or 3rd frame.

        • Herring says:

          90 is the magic number to avoid nausea, apparently.

          • ThePuzzler says:

            90 is the magic number to avoid nausea when updating the display to follow your head movements. If characters in the game move their own faces at a slower frame rate, it’s probably OK.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I would have loved to get as much as 30fps.

  3. Avus says:

    Thanks but no thanks… I rather Rockstar commit there will be Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC… They don’t have to waste time and resource on “VRing” OLD game…

    • Thirith says:

      I very much doubt it’d be the same teams working on RDR2 and this. It’s only in Civilization that you can take people away from one team and put them in another and you get a linear change in productivity.

  4. Sascha23 says:

    I would be down for my 4th playthrough since it launched, if R* makes a PC patch happen. I feel the game has sold plenty on Steam to deem the update worthwhile and they’re already going to put a Vive version on Steam, so it makes sense with the HTC/Valve partnership.

    Otherwise, tells me nothing.

  5. Beefenstein says:

    Ah, the detective game where you weren’t a detective.

  6. Jalan says:

    I still go back and play this. I honestly didn’t get the disappointments some seemed to have with it and I truly do wish Rockstar would’ve continued on with it. It’s like a Telltale game, but with that Rockstar touch/flair to it that makes it stand out.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      My main issue is the late executive decision to rename the interrogation options. Originally they were named around the tone you took but then got renamed to things like accuse. In later missions this was a nightmare because there was a complete mismatch on what you selected compared to how your character acted.

  7. Papageno says:

    I could never figure out why they tacked that entirely unnecessary -e onto the end of the name. Los Angeles is not a feminine noun, dammit.
    I bought it and played it on the 360, but it always bugged me. Also was disappointed that once you were done with the plot, there wasn’t much to do. I did enjoy the 1940’s feel and all, and all the Mad Men cast cameos.

  8. mattevansc3 says:

    So is this a Vive exclusive or a SteamVR exclusive? If its just a SteamVR exclusive that’ll mean it will work with all the upcoming Win10 VR headsets.

    • Vandelay says:

      I was under the impression that there weren’t any Vive exclusives, as such. I believe some aren’t designed around the different controllers, but it is not like Rift games that won’t work at all if it doesn’t detect a Rift (without using third party solutions, of course.)

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Just double checked, Oculus had a hardware check in its DRM that prevented Vive owners from playing their store exclusives but that’s been removed.

      • Sakkura says:

        Rift games work just fine on a Vive via the Revive tool.

    • Sakkura says:

      It’s hard to even make a game exclusive to the Vive, as SteamVR is inherently going to enable other headsets. The dev could punitively code in a headset check, but that’s rare and would be easy to circumvent (so far only Google has done that, for Google Earth VR, which was quickly circumvented and was just their way of telling people to wait for the dedicated Rift version).

      By the way, the Windows “mixed reality” headsets will not support SteamVR at launch, Microsoft has just started working on integration.

  9. Edgewise says:

    LA Noire sucked. But one of the features it touted was the facial animation of your avatar. Which you won’t see in VR. Gee, I’m starting to feel like this industry push to VR is empty and not well thought out.

    • Faxanadu says:

      YOU’RE LYING, MORGAN.

    • VanDerSpar says:

      Sometimes you gotta shake the tree to see what falls out.

    • Thirith says:

      VR doesn’t need to be first-person, and it definitely doesn’t need to be first-person all the time. And the facial animation wasn’t limited to the player character.

    • ThePuzzler says:

      Maybe they’ll add a feature where your character always carries a mirror in one hand so he can see his own expression.

  10. Werthead says:

    If they’re re-releasing LA Noire, then it’d be pretty weird not to re-release the more successful and higher-profile Red Dead Redemption.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      They’d have to port it to a different version of the engine. RDR ran on the same version of Rage as GTA IV, but the larger map size apparently created massive problems. It only worked on the consoles because it was optimised to within an inch of its life.
      LA Noire wasn’t made by Rockstar, it never used their engine.

  11. racccoon says:

    Oh for gods sake! VR is so dumb! its for dummies with no brains..
    ALL SLAVES MUST OBEY!!

    • Talsted says:

      Oh look, Raccoon is back, and still off his meds.

      • Thirith says:

        His posts do kinda read like someone took their belief in chemtrail conspiracies and did a VR-themed Total Conversion.

  12. Herring says:

    This was a weird one for me. It was original and neat but I really struggled with it. I got as far as (literally) the last mission then I decided to stop as I wasn’t enjoying it. As I’m quite capable of pushing to the end of poor games (which it wasn’t) I can never figure out why.

    • poliovaccine says:

      I always had kind of the same thing going on… I think for me anyway it was just that it was unforgiving with mistakes in ways that games used to be moreso than they are anymore, so every time I got through a case successfully, even if I did it all perfectly, it was still a relief of some very real tension.

      No quicksaving or quick-reverting, so I’d agonize over every crime scene to get all the clues before beginning an interrogation, and then agonize over the interrogation and my notebook to make sure I always guessed right, and in between places I would agonize over obeying the traffic laws or at least not outright running anyone over, which is easier said than done when you’re running red lights and speeding.

      Overall, it wound up feeling a lot like beating a segment of Dark Souls or some kind of permadeath game – every moment of respite, I took, so finishing the game just took forever. And it was definitely more stressful than some other games I’ve ultimately enjoyed. Weirdly enough, it could sometimes reach Alien Isolation levels of tension for me. The interrogations could be very effective in that respect, and it’s thinking back on those character-driven moments that I can best see their reasoning behind porting this one to VR.

      I mean, it’s one of my favorite games of all time, from any period or of any genre, but I also had a hard time finally finishing it. Doing more than two full cases in a row was a bit exhausting in an unusual way, for videogames at least. It reminds me a little of the kind of exhaustion you feel after working a cash register all day… i.e. less physical, more emotional. That plays heavily into why I like the game so much, too – nobody was a throwaway character, they all had personal agendas and personalities to match, and it was exhausting sorting through them all in the same way doing so is exhausting for me in real life haha, even if I’m not quiiite so antisocial and uptight as Ole Cole.

  13. Parrilla says:

    For a second I got confused and thought this was Red Dead Redemption, bit disappointed now.

  14. hfm says:

    I really liked playing this game, but I hated reading stories of the dev hell. Rockstar saved this game IMO.