L.A Noire 2: What we want to see
2nd Jul 2011 | 14:30
We, like a lot of people, thought L.A Noire was the business.
Killer dialogue, a brilliantly realised atmosphere, a city full of character and that famous face-tech made it a must see for any self-respecting gamer.
But you will find a hefty handful of wannabe detectives out there who just didn't get along with L.A Noire for a number of reasons. It was an ambitious project for Team Bondi but it was by no means perfect.
We're looking forward to a follow up, but we think there are a few things that need tidying in time for a sequel. Here's what we want to see in L.A Noire 2. Tell us what you think.
Oh and, just to be on the safe side, you should know that we might mention one or two things here that are spoilerish for some.
It was in the fruit market that this problem slapped us in the face. We'd put in all the hard work, followed up all the leads, interrogated all the witnesses; we could almost feel our perp's heart beat getting harder from somewhere in the city as we closed in on him.
Slowly but surely we were crossing off names, knocking down possibilities when all of a sudden we come across a chap that we've never seen before with a back room that basically may as well have a film of him committing the crime projected on the wall.
It doesn't stop there though. We arrest him and get on with our detective work, only to find at the end of our time with Homicide that he actually wasn't responsible for any part of the Black Dalia murders. In fact, none of the blokes we have behind bars were.
We understand that it's a classic film noire twist; those that are guilty are actually innocent, those that are innocent guilty, but L.A Noire never really did it very subtly. It was more a case of leading you down one path and then dropping the big reveal all of a sudden with little more than a sniff of a clue prior.
The actual man responsible for the Black Dalia murderers? We must have seen him for all of two minutes before he re-emerged. Not cool Team Bondi.
Now that the game engine is up and running and the initial world and background has been fully drawn up, we want more focus on weaving a nice twisty plot with no loose ends.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Linked to the above issue is the matter of decision making, cause and effect and generally just feeling like you have any impact on anything at all.
In L.A Noire, we simply didn't and, again, it was something that became apparent quite early on and marred the rest of the experience for us a little bit.
Because L.A Noire is a story based game you have to meet certain people, get certain clues, and hit certain locations in order to progress. That's fine, we understand, but it means that all of our investigation isn't all that compelling because we know that, no matter how crappy a detective we turn out to be, we will always turn up at the right place and get our man.
Good detective work was rewarded with a higher star rating at the end of a case when actually it should have been rewarded with game progression.
Failing that, we should at least be able to lock the wrong man up and suffer the consequences. We understand that to have a story that evolves and adapts with every wrong 'un you locked up would be difficult, but if Heavy Rain can give us at least some decision-lead routes, so can L.A Noire.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
L.A Noire even dictated the pace of play when it came to the little things that a player should and usually does have full control over, such as chases.
Most games carrying the Rockstar logo have a knack for well balanced, high-speed chases, giving the player enough of a starting handicap to provide a decent but fair challenge. The chase would evolved naturally with the player gaining on the AI slowly but constantly.
In L.A Noire the technique used to keep players at bay until the game felt they had been given enough of a run was a little bit crude.
As much as we loved the car chases in Noire, and the crafty little routes that were picked by the AI, there were two many occasions where we were stuck at a set distance from the perp with apparently no way of closing the gap.
If we did beat the system with some smart driving, the AI car would all of a sudden get a burst of speed to prolong the chase.
This was especially the case in chases on foot where both characters would be running at exactly the same pace until the AI reached a set destination where he would choose to turn and fight. It rendered the actual chase sequence almost redundant.
This is how games work a lot of the time, we'd just appreciate it if it was disguised a bit better in L.A Noire 2.
We don't want to spend the whole article picking apart L.A Noire. It was, after all, hugely successful in a lot of ways and a brilliant foundation for a sequel.
We'll end on an optimistic addition, then, rather than a picky fix. We think that our next detective (because it probably won't be Cole) should have more in his oratory arsenal than a load of questions and a couple of mood swings (chalk that one up as well).
We think detective work should be just as much about making friends, managing associates and maintaining relationships as grilling poor old landladies.
Without wanting to get too far into RPG land, L.A Noire could benefit from taking a look at the likes of Mass Effect, where a developed conversation tree moves dialogue onto more varied conversation.
Successful gambles on a character's personality might mean they become useful to you again later in the game as an ally or potentially dangerous as an enemy.