L.A. Noire is a video game developed by Team Bondi in conjunction with Rockstar Games and published by Rockstar Games. It is the biggest game ever made in Australia.
Initially announced as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, the game was later reported to also be scheduled for release on the Xbox 360. L.A. Noire is set in “a perfectly re-created Los Angeles” of 1947, with players being given an open-ended challenge to solve a series of murder mysteries.
The game takes place in 1947 Los Angeles, a city of glamour, fame, and wealth, but also where crime, vice, and corruption are rife. The player assumes the role of Cole Phelps, an LAPD officer who rises through the ranks of the department. He has joined the police force to "right the wrongs" he committed during the Second World War. He starts off as a patrolman, then advances to traffic detective, homicide, vice, and finally arson investigator. Each rank gives the player a partner who will help Phelps in his investigations, fights, and arrests.
The game blends investigative elements such as mystery and crime solving with fast paced action sequences including on-foot and car chases as well as gun-play. In addition to the storyline missions, the player can work on optional side-investigations following a call from dispatch. The player can also travel on foot, as well as in different vehicles.
Unlike Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series, the player cannot freely create chaos and kill civilians with weapons and cars, as the character is a police detective. Weapons are only allowed in appropriate circumstances.
In February 2004, Brendan McNamara, Team Bondi's president, responded to an interview with Kristen Reed that "the project is wholly funded by Sony Computer Entertainment America. We have a long-term exclusive arrangement with SCEA." On 11 June 2007, Take-Two Interactive, the sole publisher of Rockstar Games, re-confirmed the release of the PlayStation 3 version by listing it amongst its "announced to date" titles for "fiscal 2008" in a press release regarding the company's second quarter financial results. However, during the shareholders conference-call, a spokesperson for Take Two implied that both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases were likely and that "L.A. Noire is being developed for next-generation systems." L.A. Noire had, however, only been officially announced for the PlayStation 3.
On 10 September 2007, as part of their Q3 2007 financial disclosure, Take Two announced the game had been delayed until their 2009 fiscal year. On 21 January 2010, in a Question and Answer section on their blog, Rockstar said "There will be something great to see soon – a proper in-depth look at the game and why it is so ground-breaking and innovative, both in terms of the game's design and the amazing new technology to support it. Expect to see a long-awaited reveal via a big cover story next month." On 4 February it was announced that L.A. Noire would be on the cover of the March 2010 issue of Game Informer and confirmed the game would also be available on Xbox 360.
The amount of audio content L.A. Noire has is considerably large. Game Informer reported L.A. Noire to have over 20 hours of voice acting. Actor Aaron Staton lent his voice and likeness to the main character, Cole Phelps.
Team Bondi recreated 1940's Los Angeles by using aerial photographs taken by Robert Spence. In a career spanning over 50 years, Spence took over 110,000 aerial photographs of Los Angeles. The developers used Spence's photographs to create traffic patterns and public transport routes as well as the location and condition of buildings. While striving to recreate an accurate model of 1947 Los Angeles, the developers also took some artistic licence, such as including the appearance of the film set for D. W. Griffith's Intolerance; the set had actually been dismantled in 1919.
An in-game trailer was released on 11 November 2010, which subsequently confirmed the release date as Q1/Q2 2011. A developer diary was released 16 December 2010 which features the game's Director detailing the MotionScan technology.
L.A. Noire was featured on the cover of the February 2011 edition of PlayStation: The Official Magazine, which confirmed that the game would be released sometime in March 2011. However, several US retailers listed 5 April as the launch date, Rockstar commented with a "no comment". A trailer for L.A. Noire, called "Serial Killer", was leaked on 22 January 2011, two days before its planned official release. It showed 90 seconds of new gameplay footage as well as a release date. Take-Two later had the video removed from websites, citing copyright infringement. The video noted that L.A. Noire will be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 17 May.
Rockstar also ran a competition to win a trip to Los Angeles to attend the Festival of Film Noir at the Egyptian Theatre (which is actually featured in-game as a location), take an Esotouric Black Dahlia bus tour, and play the game a month before its official release.
On 29 March 2011 Take 2 Interactive announced that L.A. Noire had been selected to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, the first videogame to be recognised by the festival. L.A. Noire was screened as a sixty minute long film on 25 April 2011, followed by a question and answer session on the game's story and the technology used to make the game.
On 6 June 2011, Rockstar will publish L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories, a collection of short stories from noted crime authors, all based on the L.A. Noire universe.
On 25 February Rockstar announced a number of pieces of additional game content for people who pre-order the game. The content differs depending upon retailer.
"The Naked City" (Bonus Case) where Phelps investigates the apparent suicide of a fashion model. It also contains the "Badge Pursuit Challenge" where the player is tasked with finding 20 police badges hidden in the city. Upon completing the task the player is rewarded with the "Button Man" suit; an in-game piece of clothing that allows the player to carry extra ammo. During the challenge each badge will add 5 XP points to the player's abilities which will help to unlock Intuition Points that can be used to give an investigative advantage in the game.
"The Broderick" detective suit; a suit that boosts the fighting ability of the player's character as well as its resistance to damage.
"A Slip of the Tongue"; a traffic case where a simple car theft escalates into a large scale investigation into the largest car fraud racket in the city's history.
"The Sharpshooter" that enhances a character's aim with pistols and rifles. There are also other promotions involving T-Shirts and vouchers
"The Chicago Piano" (UK Exclusive) a Machine Gun favoured for its reliability, ergonomics, compact size, large 45-round cartridge, and high rate of automatic fire. This bonus weapon will be stored in the trunk of Detective Cole Phelps' car throughout L.A. Noire.
On 22 May 2011, Team Bondi's Brendan McNamara told GamerLive.TV that a sequel to L.A. Noire would take less than the five years it took to develop the first as the technology already exists. McNamara also stated that they are considering using the MotionScan technology for full body performances rather than only faces. In an investor conference call, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick said that L.A. Noire was "a very successful release" and that they "have every reason to believe that L.A. Noire is another strong franchise for this company". He reiterated that they "do see [L.A. Noire] as a powerful new franchise".