Sometimes problems are actually problems, and sometimes they’re hobgoblins of giant cyber-hive-minds. California dreamin’ crime-spree sleuth-a-thon L.A. Noire may be causing PS3s and Xbox 360s some technical consternation, but at this point it's anyone's guess how prevalent the issue is. What we have are reports scraped from public forums, which suggest a handful of users are experiencing game lockups or system freezing, linked anecdotally to overheating issues.
UK news site MCV noticed a message board post by a Rockstar customer service rep on Wednesday that seemed to indicate the trouble was authentic as well as PS3-specific, sparking a Sony pile-on.
“We have received some reports of PS3s overheating while playing L.A. Noire or beeping three times before shutting down/turning themselves off, mostly on older 60GB and 80GB fat models,” wrote the Rockstar rep, who went on to suggest it was firmware-related (the PS3 was recently updated in accord with the PSN re-launch after the recent 26-day hack-related outage).
“There have been various reports of this on a few different games now, all reporting their PS3s turning off or 'Red Lighting' after having installed 3.61,” continued the rep. “This can range from games randomly freezing to PS3s turning off anywhere between 30 mins use to 2 hours. We have confirmed locally that multiple games (Rockstar and non-Rockstar) overheat or freeze only when 3.61 is installed.”
Worrisome news, until Rockstar removed the post, told news sites it wasn’t an “official statement,” and quickly paired with Sony to issue the following on the PlayStation blog yesterday afternoon:
“We have received a very small number of customer support questions about PS3s overheating or shutting down while playing L.A. Noire. At this time, Rockstar Games and Sony can confirm that neither L.A. Noire or firmware update 3.61 are causing the PS3 hardware to overheat. We are both committed to working hard to find solutions to this and any issues that may arise.”
Reports that Xbox 360 users were having the same troubling system lockups while playing the game also trickled in, prompting Rockstar to post a "What to do if you are Crashing or Freezing in L.A. Noire" FAQ note on its support site:
Question: I am crashing / freezing in L.A. Noire! Somebody please help!
Answer: We are sorry to hear the game is freezing! We have received a few tickets about some isolated crashes / freezes and we are investigating them individually to find out the causes and the resolution.
The list of what-to-do's includes both PS3s and Xbox 360s. Meaning? Rockstar's hedging its bets, i.e. it's still unsure what's happening or who's to blame.
That said, scanning through the FAQ comments, I noticed the following response to a user from an official Rockstar support rep:
We can assure you that L.A. Noire does not cause console problems. If your disc works in another console or multiple discs are not working on your 360 after clearing the cache and playing on new save files, we recommend contacting Microsoft so that they can diagnose the hardware problem. We have tested on all models of retail 360s and have not experienced crashing or freezing.
Just musing here, but if L.A. Noire's pushing the technology a trifle harder than usual, I wonder if some of the lockup-afflicted are running their consoles in semi-enclosed or unusually warm ambient environments. If I put my slimline PS3 in either of my solid wood entertainment center's six-inch high rack slots, it gets uncomfortably warm just idling. Same with my Xbox 360. When I'm using either to play games, I set them vertically on the floor outside the cabinet. Ambient temps in my condo never exceed 75F (about 24C). The only lockup I've had in years (recently) was replaying Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV on my Xbox 360, and I chalk that up to whatever the opposite of serendipity is.