Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An Open Letter

Dear Team Bondi,

Congratulations on L.A. Noire. It's a wonderful game, and you deserve all the critical and commercial success you've gotten. Bully for you, putting so much work into a calculating, cerebral game that holds its aim so intently on its premise.

And don't get me wrong, I love the fact that you've decided not to inject modern paranoia about weapons into a game set in the United States in 1947. It's refreshing to see a games developer (one from Australia, no less) implicitly acknowledge that a gun is a normal thing to find in a mid-century man's bedroom.

But when searching the apartment of a suspected murderer, the model 1911 pistol sitting alone on the top of his dresser should probably be bagged as evidence, not picked up, dismissed as "circumstantial", and put back down. The same goes for the open switchblade I found tossed under a park bench twenty feet away from a mutilated corpse. It goes doubly for the stained baseball bat lying on the kitchen floor in the apartment of a man suspected of bludgeoning his wife to death. Please don't misunderstand; you made the right call, deciding not to clutter the Evidence menu with every irrelevant item I find*. But simply including some relevant monologue clips ("She was beaten, not stabbed. I'll have the techs bag it, but it's probably not related.") would really help head off this immersion-breaker.

(P.S.: If you double-dip with this LA city model and drop in a slightly smoother combat system and GTA-style open-world mission system, I will buy it on opening day.)

[* - Remember the enhanced realism of GTA: San Andreas, which required you to eat and exercise or suffer stat damage? Wasn't that fun?]

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