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.