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L.A. Noire 2 – The Return Of Needless Shouting

L.A. Noire 2 – The Return Of Needless Shouting

So Rockstar has confirmed L.A. Noire 2! Yay! Except they haven’t actually confirmed L.A. Noire 2, more that they haven’t ruled out the possibility. That’s pretty much PR 101 for any publisher asked the question of when is Killzone 4/Uncharted 4/Batman: Arkham World Or Whatever. Don’t confirm, don’t rule out the possibility.

And here, in Rockstar’s own words, is word of ‘a new game in the L.A. Noire franchise in the future‘.

While there won’t be any more DLC or additional content for the current release of L.A. Noire (we’re all too busy working on Max Payne 3, GTAV and other games to come), don’t count out the possibility of a new game in the L.A. Noire franchise in the future. We simply have not decided anything. We’re all very pleased with how that game turned out and are considering what the future may hold for L.A. Noire as a series. We don’t always rush to make sequels, but that does not mean we won’t get to them eventually – see Max and Red Dead for evidence of that – we have so many games we want to make and the issue is always one of bandwidth and timing.

L.A. Noire is a funny old thing. I’ve already written about it and said how polarising it was, how authentic it felt, how good it could have been, how enjoyable it was. If there’s a sequel though, what would they change? What should they change?

This initially started as a few quick points that has spiralled out of control. Sorry for the boring, rambling blog. Onwards!

City To Explore, Not Look At

“The city is the star!” wrote millions of fawning reviews, eager to point out how authentic it looked, how far it stretched, how interesting it remained. All true, of course, but it ignores that there is very little to do in Team Bondi’s Los Angeles. It’s still a game you’re playing. You want a playground, not a postcard. And Jesus Christ, do we really want the city to be the star in a game that’s supposed to be centred around human interaction?

No, the city wasn’t the star and it never will be, at least not until it offers something more substantial than its looks, so it can at least become more than a pretty thing to gawp at while driving from point A to point B. Even then, I suspect most players were hearing Cole’s “you drive, I need to look over the case notes” fast-travel dialogue rather than driving themselves, so it wasn’t even a whole city – just fragments of Los Angeles that would come and go. L.A. Noire wasn’t about exploration. It was about clicking on a notepad, mumbling excuses not to drive and then re-appearing in the relevant 0.1% of Los Angeles where you’ll find the clues you need.

Forums were full of wailing about how Team Bondi could fix this – mini-games like GTA, being able to shoot people like GTA, something else something else something else like GTA. But the focus in L.A. Noire always comes down to detectives solving crimes, so filling the city with peripheral junk would only distract from that. The GTA template wouldn’t work for L.A. Noire because L.A. Noire is not GTA.

How to fix this? It’s not easy. One way to feel more involved with the city and its landscape would to have actual incentive to explore it beyond rare gold film reels. To search out clues. One of the side-missions sees you following a trail of blood to find a wounded suspect. That’s a quick but relevant example of something that made you explore more, as all too often finding clues was a case of walking around a room until you hear a piano tinkle.

Consistent Interrogations

Cole’s tendency to explode with shouting has been explained by L.A. Noire’s producer Brendan McNamara, with the dialogue  recorded under Coax, Force, Accuse headings. In the final game, it became Truth, Doubt, Lie. Selecting Doubt would see Cole explode with shouting and wild accusations if it wasn’t the right option, because this was originally supposed to be Cole’s failed attempts to force the truth out of the suspect.

While funny and something that should be an easy fix, that wasn’t the real problem with L.A. Noire’s interrogations system. Rather, it was how you had to start second-guessing your way through each interrogation, as you were never able to drive the interrogations the way you wanted. You had to guess the right prompts at the right time and use evidence at exactly the right moment. Anything else would result in failure.

Doubt is too close to Lie with its meaning, especially as Doubt essentially becomes Lie-when-you-don’t-have-the-right-evidence and knowing if you had the right evidence for that specific question was little more than guessing Team Bondi’s intentions. There’s a clarity with Coax, Force, Accuse that’s missing with Truth, Doubt, Lie. Even worse, selecting Lie would lead to a few more lines of dialogue that would actual clear up whether you had the right evidence or not but by that point, it was too late. You had already committed yourself to that option.

The further you play through L.A. Noire, the more mechanical the interrogations become, mostly because the design underneath becomes transparent as you pass or fail conversations without much guidance or feedback. Having an interrogation that at least allowed for evidence to presented at different times to different questions, or allowed you more input with what kind of questions can be asked, would help the interrogations feel more organic.

Having clear responses to what suspects are saying should go without saying. The last minute change to Coax, Force, Accuse wasn’t fatal to L.A. Noire but it did add a needless layer of ambiguity for players to fight through.

More Involvement

Heavy Rain is one of my favourite games on PlayStation 3 but, perversely, I also thought it was one of the least enjoyable to play through a second time. Games like Heavy Rain work by selling you the illusion that you’re in control of the outcome and what happens, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style. It feels like you’re treading a unique path through Heavy Rain carved out by the choices you make, which is why the ‘what did you do?’ conversations with other people who played Heavy Rain are so compelling (see also: Mass Effect 2 and maaaybe Deus Ex: Human Revolution).

The problem is that when you play through Heavy Rain again, you see how little influence you actually had. Different choices lead to the same conclusion and you can’t pull away from the scripted cinematic moments.

L.A. Noire suffers from this same problem. When you start to push against your expected path, you can spot the development seams where Team Bondi momentarily let the curtain slip – the suspects who suddenly speed up just as you reach them, the areas you’re not allowed to explore, the conversations that lead to the same outcome no matter how badly you fail them. The difference with L.A. Noire is that by appearing to be open world game, you want to explore and push against those boundaries but you can’t. You’re always hemmed in. It’s not really an open world game as much as it is a closed world game.

It must have been a tricky balance for Team Bondi as the other alternative, giving you free rein to do whatever you want, risks L.A. Noire becoming too big and alienating players who don’t know where to go or what to do. Taking away the safety net around cases and allowing you to fail them also means having to replay them up to the point of failure, which leads back to problem A – you’ll be able to see your choices don’t have a big effect on what happens and then the illusion crumbles.

L.A. Noire is a linear game that leads to one uniform conclusion. It’s the way it was designed – the railroad you travel is well disguised on your first time through but it’s still a railroad. The only way to open L.A. Noire up would be to change the structure at its heart – to allow for real influence from the player, to change how cases play out, to impact the outcomes and to feel involved rather than a bystander prodding the story along. If there are different conclusions for the player to arrive at, then there would be a reason to play through again rather than 5-starring cases that had the same outcome regardless of what you did. At least Heavy Rain offered different endings depending on what happened.

L.A. Noire 2 – Gameplay Over Story?

There’s a lot to love about L.A. Noire. The soundtrack is incredible. The facial animation has made conversations in every other game feel stiff and awkward. The presentation is unmatched. Until the arson desk when the story sags somewhat, there’s a lovely pace to L.A. Noire, which makes it strangely relaxing to play.

Likewise, we’re not game designers, so who we’re not the ones who would have the best ideas about how to push a L.A. Noire sequel above what its predecessor achieved. It’s unlikely we’ll see more of the same now Team Bondi has dissolved but as for what we’ll see, if we’ll ever see anything at all, is anyone’s guess right now.

L.A. Noire a game that tried something new and showed ambition in its attempts to push story-telling if not necessarily gameplay – the facial animation, the voice-acting, the depth of the characters and the unique (if not particularly good) film noir ending. Hopefully, if there’s ever a L.A. Noire 2, the gameplay will catch up to the ambition of its story-telling.




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  • Steven Hawley

    What about L.A noire 2 as set into today’s time 2013-2015? Be realy intense with the technology we have now and realy interesting aswel hope this gives the producers something new to go on.

  • Munir Arikat

    LA noire will be even more intense if the producers make LA NOIRE 2 be set in the 1960’s with jack kelso’s son be the main protagonist ,the son could be a vietnam war veteran who returned back to la to have a regular life but he will have to share the same fate as his dad’s war buddy,he will be a detective and will have to clean up the streets of LA.

  • Nucky

    That would b awesome Steven except for one thing…….”Noire” – cant be called this if its set in present day or future as Noire represents Old style novelesque features. What they should do is give you an open world game. Allow you to enter any building/vehicle/country you want. Speak to anyone how you want and just generally how you want. That and they should make GTA 6 – GTA Glasgow – after all they have done America and London

  • Jason

    Just finished playing the game! I really enjoyed it, loved the time period the music and facials were simply amassing. Would love to play a L.A noire 2 and wouldn’t need to change much other than maybe a little interaction with people on the streets. Maybe a snitch or informant you see for the low down on the streets or visit your favorite bar or dinner. Love having to walk to a call box instead of flipping a cell phone. Make another one please!!

  • Dexter

    Agree Jason, I don’t think it would be the same if it wasn’t set at the same time, this is what made the game. Otherwise it would basically be another GTA but with some different features.. L.A Noire was good because of the setting, the places and the cars. I think the main protagonist should be one of the partners, e.g Stefan Bekowsky.

  • dave h

    Now GTA Glasgow will be awesome!

  • L.V. Noire. Nuff said.

  • J.T.Kirk

    in reply to Nucky, Noire or Noir isnt confined to the 1940’s/50’s Noir elements are present in alot of today’s movies and games, all the latest batman films have classic noir elements, blade runner, which is set in the future is a scifi noir, as for GTA glasgow……no

  • Johnny

    I am thinking along the lines of what Chris has said L.V noir

    But why stop there Chicago, N.Y, San Fran, the list goes on, involve old school gangstars, political cover ups, I think this game was fantastic, and hope they make another one, if you guys like gta so much then play that, and gta Glasgow … how about NO! They have lots of them, get over it already

  • Carley

    L.A Noire is supposed to set in the 1950’s, that’s what makes it different, unique. It would ruin the series completely if they made the second one like all the other games with all the technology. It really annoys me when people say they want L.A Noire to be set in the modern ages with all of the modern technology like finger print analysis, if you want technology go play a different game where it has it, don’t complain that L.A Noire doesn’t have it, it doesn’t have it for a reason. Most importantly the storyline, but everything in it makes this game the success it is. Please don’t try and change the concept of this game, it is what it is and I and many others love (for the most part) it just the way it is.

  • Reader

    It might be completely different though, since Team Bondi is closed now.

  • Jay Jones

    if it is trully to be a ‘noire’ game it has to be set in that golden era and has to be california or it wont work. besides that’s what makes the game so great!

  • Frank

    New York would be a more than great setting for a “L.A. Noire 2”. It just seems overwhelming solving crimes in a city so full of crime at that 60’s/70’s era.

  • Trish

    I think the New York thing is actually a pretty good idea, Frank. I also like the sound of it being from Bekowsky’s POV, what Dexter said. But responding to the article’s first point about LA Noire’s city map not involving enough interaction, I actually thought the city was especially elaborate. Also, the dispatch calls are reminiscent of GTA’s “mini-games,” although I find them more annoying than entertaining.
    Granted, I was more into the main storyline than anything, and features like city interaction and mini-games weren’t of great interest to me, so maybe I’m not the best person to evaluate such factors.

  • Salman

    If they ever make L.A NOIRE 2 it should be based in the 40s/50s, because if you want the game to be based in 2013/2014 then it will suck, because we already have GTA and Max Payne. One of the main reasons why L.A NOIRE stood out and achieved a lot, it’s because the setting is different than the other games that Rockstar have created. There are a lot of people who want to relive the 40s/50s/60s/70s, and there is nothing better than a classic game with great characters and a great scenario to relive it. If Rockstar is going to make L.A NOIRE 2, they shouldn’t change the setting, but they should improve the graphics, even though it was good in L.A NOIRE. They should also change the engine and make it a bit easier to handle and more realistic. But if they want to change the setting, then they might as well just change the whole name from L.A NOIRE to whatever they want.

  • JB

    Just to clarify, the “e” in the title was added for colour and is not how the word is really spelt. “Noir” is a French word that just means “black”, so film noir literally just means “black film” and refers primarily to the darker, cynical overtones that came about during that era of film making as well as the alternative use of lighting for dramatic effect which became popular at the time. It is not a reference to any specific time period, and the style still works effectively in sci-fi or fantasy settings. Of course, I’m a fan of the classic hard-boiled detective stories and I like that mid-1900’s era. There are plenty of games set in modern, future, and fantasy environments, so it’s nice to play a game in a classical setting. It’s nostalgic and culturally satisfying…at least in my opinion. It was one of the best features in the Assassins Creed franchise, being able to run around the Holy Land or renaissance Italy or colonial America.

    For a sequel, maybe Elsa leaves LA after Cole’s death, pregnant with his child who grows up and becomes the protagonist in the mid to late 60’s. Or just follow straight on and have Jack Kelso or Hershel Biggs or Stefan Bekowsky leave town and take over the lead role. Or simply make a complete switch to a new character in another city and go straight for the private investigator complete with cynical narration and dark, dirty alleyways and seedy motels, etc. Using a private investigator could add another element in terms of character development. Friends and enemies are important in solving cases. For instance, you could do favours and get on the good side of the DA or a police detective to gain access to evidence and information that’s not available to the general public, at the same time watching out for crooked cops that will send you into traps and rat you out to the bad guys. Of course, the straight-laced police detective may disagree with your slightly more amoral approach so you have to be careful when and what you bring him in on so he doesn’t arrest you or cease assisting you. Then of course there’s street informants, the option of collecting information to blackmail more powerful people into helping you, etc. I could go on but I think the idea is apparent and I’ve said more than enough anyway…

  • Aldwin

    The reason I loved the game, the reason I bought it, the reason so many people bought it was because it was supposed to be a noire type game.
    And it was. It exceeded my expectations.
    If they make a squeal, and I truly hope they do, I want to see it set in the 1940s again. Going past the 50s is boring.
    Maybe the second can be about Kelso, or perhaps Phelps shows up with an alias, working as a private dick in some other place. (New York would be cool. N.Y Noire?)
    Hell, the squeal doesn’t need to be a squeal at all. Just put us in the 1940’s and let us solve crimes to some jazz music. That’s all I ask.

  • josh

    I think a sequel set in 40s/50s LA would be good but I like the sound of 70s San Fransisco, like the driver series, I think it would be cool to be like starsky and hutch but with the LA noire engine

  • Greg Wickens

    You are a fool sir you can spell noir with an e on the end as noir is the masculine singular and noire is the feminine singular. P.s. learn French before you start thinking you know. Douche.

  • George Valkhoun

    This is a very interesting article and a great lesson in game design or at least how to make L.A. Noire 2 a better game. Unfortunately it’s a very interesting article that will probably fall on deaf ears as the actual development process of making games often involves clashes of stupid egos and ignorance and/or apathy from the higher ups in “New York”.

  • Che Di lella

    L.A Noire 2 should be about Cole’s days in the japanese conflict, reflecting early relationships with Kelso, Sheldon, Alvarro, Mcgoldrick, Ira Hogeboom and other fellow soldiers which leads to coles relationships with them after his return to L.A and if kelso was also to be played in this idea, he could be played on the SS Coolridge, which was heisted by his unit on the ship for the high-market morphine which cole investigates in L.A Noire (1) with Roy Earle. I liked the idea about playing his son to elsa llichtmann but leaving L.A would be pointless due to it’s namesake.
    ANOTHER IDEA- “what about playing Garret Mason, the main antagonist during the homicide cases, who cole eventually apprehended with a death hunt through a churches catacombs, mason killed all the victims in the homicide cases which was only found out in the quarter moon- murders.”
    Or just continue with playing Kelso. or even biggs, bekowsy,galloway and earle. Comment if you hate or like these ideas.

  • Dean Meredith

    Umm 1960s San Fransisco would not be boring…….. This is the zodiac speaking….. I want to shoot a school bus and then snipe the kiddies as they get off the bus. Yeah 60s sanfran is not boring

  • RB

    I just wonder what will happen with this game had a sequel without team bondi. Would they have access to the MotionScan technology used for the facial capture? I know macnamara is using motionscan in the game he’s making Whore of the orient. All I ask is that LA Noire 2 keep the serious and cruisy feel that LA Noire had, it was similar to Police Quest series which is still one of my favourite series. I loved LA Noire please do it justice 🙂

  • Mr. Valentine

    Fantastic retrospective. Better than any of the reviews I’ve read, you really hit all the key notes regarding how wonderfully flawed the game was. My fingers are crossed for more, with more polish. Maybe the missing gameplay to add to the exploration is just more complex, open side-missions in the shape of calls on the radio? Anyway, well written sir.