Rockstar Games has announced it is dusting off its hard-boiled detective thriller L.A. Noire with four new re-releases - including a spin-off developed specifically for HTC's Vive virtual reality platform.
Released back in May 2011 and ported to Windows PCs in November the same year, L.A. Noire was Rockstar's attempt at a story-heavy detective thriller. The game proved most notable for its interrogation scenes, which used an innovative motion capture system to map actors' facial expressions onto the in-game models and left the player trying to guess whether they were telling the truth or a lie. The technology behind it, Rockstar claimed at the time, was so intensive that it was only possible to perform the mapping for three characters simultaneously - hence its restriction to two- or three-person interrogation scenes - without running out of system resources, and regardless of the truth of that claim it certainly went some way to improving the immersion - even as a last-minute change to the dialogue system left players occasionally screaming expletives at a subject when they had meant to only gently pick at a potential mistruth.
Six years on, Rockstar has announced four new versions of the game: ports of a remastered version of the original game plus its downloadable content for the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStaion 4, and Microsoft Xbox One, plus a spin-off developed exclusively for HTC's Vive virtual reality platform.
In L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files for HTC Vive, to give the fourth new version its full title, players will run through seven of the original game's cases but rebuilt specifically with virtual reality in mind. Rockstar has thus far been silent on exactly what the rebuilding process entails, but has promised it is the result of 'blending breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience.'
For Rockstar, the new L.A. Noire represents its first dip in the waters of virtual reality - though stops short of a full rebuild of the entire first game. Whether this heralds a new era where future Rockstar games will receive virtual reality modes in much the same way it added a first-person mode to Grand Theft Auto V remains to be seen.
The three console re-releases are to launch on November 14th, Rockstar has confirmed, along with the HTC Vive-exclusive L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files.