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L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

Matt Gardner
Debate, L.A. Noire, Rockstar, Round Table, Team Bondi
L.A. Noire

L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

If you missed the first half of our in-depth look at L.A. Noire, well, shame on you! But you can catch up with things by clicking here. Essentially, a bunch of us sat down and had a good old natter about a game that is bound to be amongst the awards come the end of the year, and we thought we'd share our chat with you. As ever, let us you know what you all thought in the comments below, and please be aware there may be one or two little spoilers.

Matt Gardner: Let’s talk linearity. I think LAN is definitely one of Rockstar's most linear games, and I'll admit I had issue with this at first. I was a bit confused by just how scripted everything seemed to be. But you have to compromise a little for the story I suppose and in that sense I think it was probably worth it. Thoughts?

Felix Kemp: I think Rockstar is in uncharted territory here. And as such, they impose a little more control on the game as they usually do. They're essentially meshing a time-honoured genre with revolutionary tech. I wasn't expecting GTA, though, so the controlled narrative wasn't a huge bother to me.

Tom Silkstone: I'd agree with that, in one vice case I didn't go to see a talent agent, because I wanted to gather a bit more evidence before I questioned him, and I ended up closing the case before I could pay him a visit. It even commented on how he'd managed to get away with things because I didn't drop by to see him!

Felix Kemp: The Black Caesar case?

L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

Tom Silkstone: I think so; it's the one where you find all the morphine encased in blocks of ice.

Felix Kemp: Yeah, that's the one. Brilliant opening. I hate my new partner. Rusty was great!

Tom Silkstone: Rusty's definitely the best Detective you're partnered with. Biggs, your partner on the arson desk, is starting to grow on me.

Carl Phillips: Yeah, Detective Earle suffered from a serious case of "smug face", but that just made him a memorable character in it all.

Tom Silkstone: Yeah, Adam John Harrington's got the bent cop act down to a tee.

Matt Gardner: And the bonus of a slappable face! Going back to the structure, though, it might just have been because I came off the back of a bunch of RPGs where I could imprint my own personal choices onto the gameplay, but in terms of gameplay, Phelps is a straight-edge character as the game begins, and that puts some restrictions on the way you play and what you can do. I'll admit I was a little disappointed to not be able to rough up informants, but Phelps wouldn't do that. John Marston and Niko Bellic were fairly expansive characters - you could be as good or dastardly as you wanted. Phelps gives the player far less freedom.

Tom Silkstone: It would have been interesting if you could have accepted bribes from people, or extorted money out of people in exchange for your personal protection.

Matt Gardner: Indeed. I'd love to see GTA from a bent copper's perspective. A mashup between the two Rockstar franchises – LANGTA!

L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

Tom Silkstone: Roughing up informants and beating confessions out of people would have made the choice aspect to the game a little more interesting.

Felix Kemp: Yeah, the B button is currently unused. Patch it Rockstar! B to Batter!

Matt Gardner: You see I found the lack of choice a bit upsetting at first. But it would have been so hard to take the story exactly where they wanted it to go if they'd opened it up to the player.

Felix Kemp: That's an example of Rockstar's strict new control on the game, though. Phelps is his own character, you have no say on who he is.

Matt Gardner: Absolutely, and I think that's probably why the story is so very engaging.

Felix Kemp: You're just along for the ride in many ways.

Matt Gardner: Someone touched on adventure gaming earlier, at least in passing, could this herald a new golden age?

Carl Phillips: It better.

Felix Kemp: I hope so. Because I missed out on the point-and-click genre. And I realize now I would have loved it.

Tom Silkstone: The old school adventure genre was a barrel of laughs. I think I had a Pink Panther one at some point in my youth.

Felix Kemp: In the future, though, I'd like to see Rockstar build on interrogations, and integrate them further into the game. Conversations a la Mass Effect wouldn't go amiss. Letting you maybe construct questions with evidence would be interesting, too.

Carl Phillips: I've sounded off about it in the past, but it was great to see how it reminded me of the games I used to play when I was younger. Blade Runner is an obvious pick because of the styles, but the way you had to combine clues with accusations was great, as it actually had me thinking whilst playing.

Felix Kemp: It definitely made a simpleton like me feel like a f*cking genius. Using evidence to prove a suspect is lying is amazing stuff.

L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

Tom Silkstone: Yeah it was nice to have to use brain power, rather than resorting to physical violence or a full blown machine gun massacre.

Felix Kemp: That said, I would like the combat to be overhauled. No reason why it shouldn't, even if it is secondary to the core narrative. Red Dead's combat is pretty bad, but Dead Eye spruces it up and makes it appear better than it is. Detective Eye in LA Noire 2, please

Tom Silkstone: Agreed, the combat definitely needs an overhaul!

Carl Phillips: As long as the ability to pick your hat back up after a fist fight is still in, I'll be happy.

Matt Gardner: I think it's telling that two of the biggest games of the year so far - and Charlie Brooker noted this too a few days back - require more brains than brawn. The reception to Portal 2 and L.A. Noire have both shown that there are people out there who want and expect more from games than simply shooting people in the face or button-mashing hack'n'slashers.

Tom Silkstone: Both games are such a welcome relief to the standard "shoot everything in sight" formula.

Felix Kemp: It makes perfect sense. Any industry that falls into a trend of pumping out the same product year on year, month on month is doomed to failure. Mixing the likes of LA Noire and Portal 2 with big budget mindless fests like Call of Duty is in the best interests of the industry.

Tom Silkstone: Indeed, variety is key to keeping things fresh!

Matt Gardner: Not saying one is necessarily better than the other, but there should be room for both. ‘Cerebral’ and ‘commercialism’ don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Just look at week one sales!

Tom Silkstone: What did you all think about the ‘Ask The Community’ stuff? I found it quite interesting – a sense of other players and community in a stubbornly (and rightly so) singleplayer game.

Felix Kemp: I never actually used it. I've used, I think 3 Intuition Points overall!

Matt Gardner: It was nice in-built way of getting a little hint too that never required you to abandon the gameplay experience.

Carl Phillips: I thought it was a great way of connecting gamers in a single player experience, and it was quite interesting to see how people voted, and how wrong some people were.

Tom Silkstone: It was good to finally see how other people fared in the same situation and then having to decide whether you were going to go with the majority or break the trend.

L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

Matt Gardner: The fine line between 'Doubt' and 'Lie' tripped me up a number of times.

Felix Kemp: I think Doubt is too helpful, to be honest.

Tom Silkstone: I did the same thing as you though Felix, I was very careful about how I used my intuition points. I kept them when I found characters that were hard nuts to crack whilst being questioned.

Felix Kemp: I haven't actually used it in an interrogation yet. I don't quite get how it works.

Carl Phillips: I did worry at one point when I used Intuition and saw the statistic "9% of players chose the right answer after using Intuition"!

Matt Gardner: But that sometimes helped, Carl. I always went with the 'non-obvious' one if I saw that. Although actually even that failed sometimes! Teaches you to approach every case on an individual basis...which is suppose is thoroughly in keeping with Phelps' character. No 'Rusty rule' for him.

Tom Silkstone: One fantastic use of an intuition point for me was when I was stuck during an arson case, and you could spend one to discover all clues in the immediate area.

Felix Kemp: That's what I've primarily used it for.

Tom Silkstone: I've only used the discover all clues aspect once, due to my meticulous clue searching, but the clue I was looking for was in an absolutely bizarre position.

Felix Kemp: Favourite cases so far?

Matt Gardner: The Homicide over-arching Dahlia case. It's exactly what I wanted - a narrative that bound several cases together.

Felix Kemp: Took the words out of my mouth.

Carl Phillips: I really enjoyed Homicide's arc, thought the brutal nature of Vice was excellent, but I really enjoyed Arson as well.

Felix Kemp: I loved that it all linked together. As the whole marital strife, husband beating wife thing seemed stale and repetitive until you realize it's a perfectly executed con!

Tom Silkstone: The Homicide cases were all pretty good! I was genuinely upset when it was all over and I got moved to Vice.

Felix Kemp: Same here. It felt anti-climatic. Like playing in the Champions League then finishing fifth. Oh wait... [Felix is an Arsenal fan]

Tom Silkstone: That sounds like football talk, which is like a foreign language to me!

Matt Gardner: Dodging the allure of footie banter, finally, Take-Two have said this is to be a franchise, so, not necessarily going for noir again as a detective/problem solving sub-genre, where would you like to see the series go from here?

L.A Noire Round Table Review | Part 2

Felix Kemp: A Sherlock Holmes-style Jack the Ripper chase. London, definitely. Let’s do this! Ass Creed missed a trick there! Or, you know, sate my lust for a Wire game -  Baltimore, present day.

Tom Silkstone: Jack The Ripper would be fantastic!

Carl Phillips: I think I have a good idea of where the series will ultimately go. But London would be awesome

Tom Silkstone: A modern day FBI, or US Marshal style game would also be great.

Felix Kemp: That said, I imagine LA Noire 2 will be just that. A sequel, not a serial iteration

Tom Silkstone: It also opens up the field for new game's based on The Untouchables, The X-Files, Silence Of The Lambs, Public Enemies, etc.

Felix Kemp: The Wire! I would kill for a Wire game.

Tom Silkstone: Dexter The Game would be cool! The iPhone version wasn't bad. It'd be like LA Noire, only you'd kill the suspects instead of charging them!

Carl Phillips: It will probably be considered an insane suggestion, but a Naked Gun / Police Squad game would be awesome to see in the genre.

Tom Silkstone: I would pay any amount of money for A Naked Gun game!

Matt Gardner: RIP Leslie. The possibilities are endless. If you can think of a detective drama it could be done, but there are other avenues too. Parliamentary intrigue, Elizabethan court politics, Spooks: The Video Game, the list goes on.

Tom Silkstone: It's just a shame Leslie Nielsen wouldn't be able to voice Frank Drebin! The technology could also be used by the BBC to improve The Doctor Who Adventure Games. Well, I can always hope can't I!

Matt Gardner: We can always dream...Maybe one day LucasArts will pull its finger out of its arse and make a good game again...or, you know, just remake Grim Fandango. In HD. For f*ck's sake! Bring back the adventure game!!!!!!

Carl Phillips: There there Matt, there there.

Matt Gardner: Thanks.

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