Rockstar’s LA Noire: The VR Case Files came out a while back for PC and the HTC Vive, and we’ve been tooling around with it since. How well has R*’s first foray into VR made the case that this is a technology worth digging into as a gamer? While the engine for LA Noire is showing its age, the gameplay feels right at home in VR, with the HTC Vive controllers making the use of your hands in the 3D space feel truly lifelike. This is our LA Noire: The VR Case Files review.
There are three different ways of moving, including a couple of simple point-and-click warps for those with an aversion to smooth motion. The innovative, but awkward because it hearkens back to the days of the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls, is when you hold a button and swing your arms back and forth as though you’re walking. It’s not the best way to move shorter distances because it’s not always precise in where you end up, but it’s pretty fun and immersive. I wound up using this combined with the point and click for shorter distances.
LA Noire’s centerpiece interrogations work pretty much the same way here as they did in other formats: using collected clues and cues from the captured performances of actors, you decide when to be the good cop, bad cop, or accuse them of lying. The cool thing here is you can doodle in your notes while they talk, you can maneuver your hands and even touch the person if you’re close enough to them – something that screams “they should react” and instead the NPCs just sort of keep talking while you poke their eyeballs or give them virtual wet willies.
As a room scale game, it’s worth noting that the VR Case Files needs a good 8×8 space to work in. My office works, but I lost count of how many times I rand into my desk or my bookshelf. Houses, where space or scale is a problem, will have an even harder time.
LA Noire was never a big action game, but shooting and fist fights still play heavily into some cases here, and it works really well. Waiting for your opening to pop out of cover, or to lower their cover, and then taking your shot or throwing your physical punch is a very immersive thing to do. Minus a few gesture tracking issues I had in my room due to some dim lighting, the action in The VR Case Files was better than the original game.Driving is done the same way, pantomiming the act of holding a wheel and turning it. It’s fun, and there’s no penalty for running down people, hitting cars, etc. unlike the original game. Perhaps Rockstar knew that driving this way would be more an experiment than an art form. In either case, before long your arms will get tired and it’ll be easier to just auto-travel to your destination. But it’s a nice novelty to take a trip around 1950s Hollywoodland.