There is a familiar pattern to media coverage whenever Rockstar publishes a game. There is talk about how the developer has used its newest game to iterate upon and redefine the open world genre. There are almost always articles on how various Hollywood films influenced Rockstar's development process. And there are at least one or two polemics that attack the developer for transgressing established norms about what can and cannot be done in video games. This last type of essay inevitably concludes that video games are bad, and lead to an increase in interpersonal violence as well as the downfall of civilisation.
Editor's note: This week sees the re-release of L.A. Noire on PS4, Xbox One and Switch, and to mark the occasion we thought we'd return to Chris Donlan's piece on playing through the game - still one of the very best things ever published on Eurogamer, he'll hate me for saying - which first went live back in 2012. Enjoy!
You may have noticed that my splendid and lovely colleagues Oli Welsh and Martin Robinson have recently become embroiled in what may very well be the most polite argument in the history of the internet, debating whether or not 2011 has been a vintage year for gaming.
L.A. Noire promised much: an authentic recreation of 1940s Los Angeles, a detective story in the L.A. Confidential mould and faces so good you could tell when the characters were lying. Its launch was met with millions of sales and impressive review scores - but at what cost to publisher Rockstar, developer Team Bondi, and its controversial creator Brendan McNamara?
Brendan McNamara begins his Bradford Animation Festival 2011 presentation with a story. His first visit to Yorkshire was to Huddersfield as a much younger man, playing for a north London cricket team. He batted first - not McNamara's speciality, as he's more of a bowling man. As the bowler ran in, he put his foot forward to the pitch of the ball and tried to whack it as hard as he could, just as he'd been taught as a schoolboy.
Published as part of our sister-site GamesIndustry.biz's widely-read weekly newsletter, the GamesIndustry.biz Editorial, is a weekly dissection of an issue weighing on the minds of the people at the top of the games business. It appears on Eurogamer after it goes out to GI.biz newsletter subscribers.
This article originally appeared on our sister site GamesIndustry.biz.
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"Team Bondi takes us into new territory with its use of extraordinary facial performance capture," said Oli as he worked his way towards an 8/10 verdict, "This results in spooky facial animation which really does make it possible for actors to communicate more of their performances, using eyes, tics and expressions."
It's easy to get a peculiar feeling when viewing a new Rockstar game for the first time. It's the feeling that what you're watching might change video gaming. This familiar feeling was creeping up my spine as I sat in a demo booth for L.A. Noire.
Having just spent the past 10 days applying the Factor 20 and casually taking in the blissed out view of Chaweng beach through a pair of Spitfires, I can certainly relate to why Brendan McNamara and his Aussie cohorts would want to return to their Antipodean roots and remind themselves of the feel of Bondi beach sand between their toes.