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McNamara: why you thought LA Noire's characters were "dead from the neck down"

Plus, why Cole Phelps is sometimes a bit of a psycho.

L.A. Noire main man Brendan McNamara has discussed criticism of the body animation in open world detective game L.A. Noire, specifically why some thought they were "dead from the neck down".

While L.A. Noire's character faces, captured using the cutting edge MotionScan technology, were acclaimed by gamers and critics, some criticised the bodies for being lifeless - despite motion capture work done by the studio.

"People were saying people were dead from the neck down," McNamara said at the Bradford Animation Festival 2011 at the University of Bradford this afternoon.

"That's because we had all this animation in the neck and all this animation in the face, but the clothes don't move. Once you get to the level that people can actually see that level of realism, then people expect to see clothes moving and the rest of the body moving in a way we can't replicate in video games."

MotionScan is a motion capture technology developed by Australian company Depth Analysis, a sister company of Team Bondi.

It attracted attention in the run up to release with the promise of an unprecedented level of fidelity in video game faces - and this, according to McNamara, created a problem of expectation when players eventually got their hands on the game.

"It's a subtle thing, but once you attune to that level of realism then you start looking for the other things," he explained. "And we had some criticism from people saying people were a bit stiff in their clothes and from the way they were done. But they were only stiff in comparison to real life.

"That's another reason why we pursued full body capture. There's been some discussion I've heard with people saying some ensemble recordings in some recently launched games were better than what we were doing in L.A. Noire. It's a weird criticism because we were actually doing it in the first place."

Meanwhile, McNamara explained why central character Detective Cole Phelps, played by Mad Men star Aaron Staton, sometimes responds with particularly aggressive lines of dialogue when prompted by the player in interrogation scenes.

"It's funny. A lot of people say Aaron turns into a psycho," he said. "When we originally wrote the game the questions you asked were coax, force and lie. It was actually force because it was a more aggressive answer. That's the way we recorded it.

"But when the game came out it was truth, doubt or lie. Everyone always says Aaron on the second question is a psycho. So that's not his fault."

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Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.