Team Bondi and Brendan McNamara might have only made one game together; but what a game! Although L.A. Noire had limitations, it still opened the door to whole new world of realistic interactive entertainment.
There were many things about L.A. Noire that could've been better. That's an indisputable fact. Some of the action sequences felt clunky, and many of the cases you were tasked with relied on the same basic formula. It's reasonable to say that there was a fair bit of repetitive gameplay in Team Bondi's one and only game.
On the other hand, it was an incredibly engaging experience, and one of the highlights of 2011. Whilst the core mechanics of the game were rolled out time and time again, there was still plenty of variety in there. Using the Rockstar engine, Team Bondi was able to create an authentic and vibrant sandbox environment. There was plenty to be getting on with; there was a massive map to explore and street crimes took place at regular intervals. These street crimes often involved either a chase sequence or a gunfight and provided a nice distraction from the main event.
For the completionists out there, Team Bondi dotted cars and landmarks all over the map, encouraging exploration. Whilst the game had the familiar Rockstar touch that we all know and love, it was the motion-captured interrogation scenes that really stole the show.
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Thankfully the quality of most of the acting was very good, and it allowed the interviews to be as integral to the game as Team Bondi had intended them to be. When you got it wrong during a round of questioning, it resulted in a slightly disjointed experience. But when you got it right, and you were able to read your suspect and extract the truth from them, L.A. Noire offered gamers an experience they had never had before.
L.A. Noire raised the stakes for game developers across the world, by bringing motion capture realism into the gameplay. For that reason, L.A. Noire has to be considered one of gaming's defining moments. The ideas and technology that were pioneered by Brendan McNamara and his studio Team Bondi, will no doubt go on to be used by developers for many years to come.
MotionScan technology was used, meaning that actors were filmed by 32 different cameras. This meant that each and every movement was captured exactly as it had been performed. For the first time, the authenticity of an integral in-game interaction relied on the capabilities of the actor, and not the technology.
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L.A. Noire's first steps (down this particular path) towards ultra-realism are just another development in the ever-evolving world of video gaming. We are starting to see potential blossom into undeniable quality, and the facts and figures back this up. Video games are now the highest grossing entertainment releases on the planet, and as the industry continues to grow into its role as a dominant force in world entertainment, employing the technology pioneered by Brendan McNamara and Team Bondi will become standard practice amongst game developers the world over.
Whilst it is reported that publisher Take-Two Interactive will continue on with the L.A. Noire setting, it is a real shame that the first chapter of the story will stand as Team Bondi's simultaneous debut and swan song. They might have only contributed one game to the mix, but it was an important one.
The morning sun seeps in through the blinds at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. War veteran-turned cop Cole Phelps fix his holster, pulls on his police hat and walks out the door into one of the most ambitiously designed game worlds ever.