LA Noire back from the dead on Switch, PS4 and more
Reminiscing on the flawed genius of LA Noire – and what its revival could mean for the future of franchise.
LA Noire back from the dead – QorC Ep. 98
The troubled hero. The puff of cigarette smoke. The femme fatale. The grisly murder. These are the key ingredients of a Noir novella, a deliciously dark bit of pulp that has endured for decades. In this world, LA Noire found its home.
Released in 2011, Rockstar’s LA Noire was set in late 1940s Los Angeles, a city rediscovering its dark glamour after long years of war. You play decorated Marine Cole Phelps as he works his way up from beat-walking patrol officer in the LAPD, to detective. But as he rises he also descends, slipping deeper into a world of murder, violence and conspiracy.
For those that missed it the first time around, LA Noire’s gameplay takes three core forms – investigation of crime scenes, interviewing suspects and GTA-like action sequences. As we discuss in the podcast, it’s the second and third sections that Rockstar really needs to fix in this remaster, but we doubt either will be done successfully.
The problem with LA Noire the first time around was that the interviews just never worked logically. You might know a witness is lying his arse off. Even be able to prove it. But unless you challenge said witness just at the right moment, they’ll clam up, leaving you unable to take the interview on any further. Annoyingly the game never makes it obvious as to what point in the interview you should challenge them, leading to much grinding of teeth as you’re told you did it wrong (despite knowing you have the right solution).
Then there are the GTA-like sections. Chases, gun fights and otherwise awkward encounters that break the game’s atmosphere – seeing your character get shot five times, before brushing it off tends to do that. That these sections felt more like throwbacks to PS2 era GTA didn’t help matter much either. Will Rockstar have tried to replace them with the much more satisfying gunplay of GTA V? We really doubt it.
Of course, many of these complaints were due to LA Noire’s notoriously torturous development. Originally announced in 2004 with Sony handling publishing duties, Rockstar took over in 2006. Unusually, though, Team Bondi used its own engine for the development and developed its own technology, such as motions scan for more realistic facial expressions.
Despite the game selling well after its eventual release in 2011, it didn’t take long for stories to emerge detailing the fraught relationship between Team Bondi and Rockstar. Stories also came out of alleged harsh working conditions at the studio in the frantic dash to get the game out.
Join Mike and Andy as they reminisce about LA Noire and look ahead to game’s return on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and Vive. Could this mean that a full LA Noire sequel might be on the cards?
And as for Team Bondi, what remained of the studio attempted to develop ‘Whore of the Orient’, a new game set in 1930s/40s Shanghai. Warner Bros. was originally attached to publish, but reports emerged in 2016 that the game was dead in the water. That title certainly can’t have helped…
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