LA Noire | Dude, Where’s the Sequel? #4

dwts-la-noireWhat is it?

LA Noire is a noir detective game set in Los Angeles in the 1940s. It’s developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games. Note that: Team Bondi. Not Rockstar. Okay? Team Bondi is an Australian development company. Rockstar approached them and helped them with their game, but LA Noire existed long before Rockstar intervened. I always see people bringing up LA Noire as a Rockstar game. No. Same goes for Life is Strange. It’s a Dontnod game. Not a Square Enix game. Capish?

And with that tangent out of the way, let’s talk about LA Noire. It’s an homage to film noir and includes visual elements that mimic that era of movies. You could even play in the game in black and white for a true noir experience. Even without that mode, the color palette of the game is chosen to stand out from the crowd.

The story of the game follows new police officer Cole Phelps, a World War 2 veteran, as he starts off as a patrolman and slowly advances in rank in the LAPD, becoming a detective at the Vice office before a fall out causes him to be sent to the Arson desk. The players are given cases to solve which are ranked from 1-5 stars based on the players’ performances. They will need to do investigations including analyzing crime scenes, speaking to the coroner’s team and interrogating suspects and witnesses and ultimately apprehending the correct culprit.

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Phelps handy-dandy notebook, used for evidence collection and questioning.

Speaking of interrogations, one of the biggest selling point of the game was the face capture they used to show realistic facial expressions. Players will have to judge whether witnesses and suspects are telling the truth or lying. If they choose to accuse them of lying, the player will need to produce evidence, based on earlier investigations to catch the suspect in their lie.

There’s also a free mode where the player can just drive around 1940s Los Angeles and look for landmarks or hidden vehicles and other collectibles in the game. They can also be called to answer crimes in progress and help patrolmen with situations like shootouts.

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Just another day at work for Officer Phelps

I have my issues with the game’s story, like a sudden break in character where a stand up guy committed adultery. There’s two ways to look at that situation (i.e. the guy was never stand up in the first place) and I’m not a fan of both. Not to mention that there are shootouts in the middle of LA in the broad daylight with Phelps gunning down mobsters by the dozens. Talk about police brutality… But by and large, it was an interesting story to follow. There’s corruption in the work force, a scheme involving Phelp’s old Marine mates, PTSD and a lounge singer. There’s certainly never a dull moment. The crime cases themselves were different enough from one another, though I must admit I only remember the Black Dahlia storyline when Phelps is in the Homicide desk.

What I want to see in a Sequel

I really love my historical open world games. It gives me a feeling like I’m in another era of time that I won’t have otherwise experienced. Granted, they’re not a one to one replica, but boy, do games like Assassin’s Creed do a good job with it. And with the recently failure of Mafia 3 (I really hope they fix this game) I really want to see another game set in a similar era. Something between 1900s – 2000s, not too long ago that it’s in Assassin’s Creed territory where automobiles and electricity are absent, but not too recent that it would feel like a Grand Theft Auto game.

The sequel doesn’t have to be a direct sequel. It doesn’t even need to be set in Los Angeles. LA Noire’s story is complete. There is a possibility of following Kelso, but it’s not really required. Heck it doesn’t even need to be about police work, though I would really love to see a game about a private eye. Jack Orlando anyone? No? So really, it’s not a true sequel insomuch as a spiritual successor. So no LA and maybe some Noire. They didn’t really give the name much thought when it comes to franchise potential.

I would love to see a sequel set in other cities during that era. New York for example. Or a post-World War 2 Paris or Berlin might be interesting to see. Seeing a broken city being rebuild is not something we’ve seen much of before. Berlin is especially interesting, with the divide between East and West. I’d imagine that life would be pretty tough and crime would skyrocket as the city’s law enforcement is tied up with other stuff.

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Whore of the Orient looked pretty promising before its cancellation.

There were talks of a game set in 1963 Shanghai called Whore of the Orient. It would be about Western influences in the city and the rise of communism and the fall of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party). I would have loved to seen this game, but sadly, Team Bondi couldn’t find a publisher for it and it was subsequently canceled.

The face capture… I could do without that. It was really cool to see it, but it’s really awkward sometimes. I mean you basically stare a person’s face while you decide and they loop through several animations for you to see. Plus it cost them a ton to do it. LA Noire was one of the most expensive games when it was released. But if most of the cost was in the development of the tech itself, I say why not? It would be cool to see it used again.

Feasibility

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Rockstar’s next game is Red Dead Redemption 2

A direct sequel? Feasibility, almost zero. There’s a question on who owns the right to LA Noire right now. I think it might actually be owned by Rockstar, so that would be like almost impossible to see in the next ten or so years. Red Dead Redemption 2 is their next game, releasing later this year. Midnight Club is dead. Agent has been missing for a while. And with other properties like Max Payne and Bully, LA Noire is in deep competition, especially considering that Rockstar takes their sweet time making a game. Their last release was GTA V back in 2013.

GTA V doesn’t even have any single player stuff. Rockstar is making big bucks when it comes to GTA Online, so I don’t think they’re in a hurry to publish any games. Unless of course they decide to spend their big bucks and buy up a ton of studios and hire tons of talent to do the game. But at the moment, they seem to be satisfied with how they’re doing things now.

A spiritual successor? Zero. Team Bondi is gone. Nadah. Zilch. It’s assets and IPs were sold to George Miller’s (of Mad Max fame) company Kennedy Miller Mitchell. So not seeing a game there. There were also some shady business involved with the studio. Names got cut from the credits, employees were overworked and stuff like that. Otherwise Team Bondi could have potentially become Rockstar Sydney. Rockstar was rumored to be interested in acquiring them before all that came out. Oh, and Whore of the Orient’s IP is with KMM too. So yeah, that’s not gonna happen either.

So in short, we’re probably never going to see a LA Noire sequel.

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