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Team Bondi

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Pachter: Overworked devs need to find another job


Jul 26
// Jim Sterling
Industry analyst Michael "Slippery Bullet" Pachter has weighed in on the "crunch period" debate reignited by recent Team Bondi controversies. According to Pacther, working long hours is an obligation, and anybody who dislikes...
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Team Bondi: Ex-staff members want to 'destroy' studio


Jul 14
// Jim Sterling
L.A. Noire lead programmer Dave Heironymus has addressed the controversy surrounding his studio's working conditions, firmly taking the side of his employers. Addressing the former staff members who have accused Team Bon...
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More L.A. Noire content on the way, 'game isn't complete'


Jul 13
// Nick Chester
The recently released "Reefer Madness" downloadable content for L.A. Noire may not be the last we see of detective Cole Phelps. "The game isn't complete yet," Rockstar told Kotaku when asked if there was more to come."Reefer ...
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L.A. Noire gets 'Reefer Madness' next week, trailer now


Jul 07
// Jordan Devore
Another add-on case for L.A. Noire, another quick trailer involving fleeing suspects, yelling, and accusing people of hiding something. This one is called "Reefer Madness," appropriately enough. It's a Vice case, so you'll h...
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Rumor: Rockstar has 'disdain' for Team Bondi


Jul 05
// Jim Sterling
According to supposedly leaked emails, Rockstar will not work with Team Bondi again, despite the success of L.A. Noire, due to "disdain" for the Australian developer.  "It's pretty well reported now that the working cond...
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L.A. Noire missing 130 staff credits, developers upset


Jun 21
// Jim Sterling
[Jim's Note: Nick wrote this better] L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi has been accused of a year-long crunch period that led to a number of developers leaving the company -- at the cost of their credit for whatever work they p...
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L.A. Noire Rockstar Pass, pre-order DLC launches


May 31
// Jim Sterling
L.A. Noire's Rockstar Pass has launched on Xbox Live today, giving customers access to a range of downloadable content. The extra stuff starts today, and is expected to continue for several months to come.  For 800 Moon ...
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58% of L.A. Noire sales on Xbox 360, 42% on PS3


May 23
// Jim Sterling
L.A. Noire has sold 58% of its British copies on Xbox 360, as opposed to 42% on PS3, according to Chart Track. Although the sales figures are quite even -- moreso than Brink's 69% landslide -- it would seem that the addition ...
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L.A. Noire becomes fastest selling new IP in UK


May 23
// Jim Sterling
Team Bondi's L.A. Noire has, quite unsurprisingly, broken a sales record to become the fastest selling new property in British history. In addition, it's become the 15th fastest selling game on Xbox 360 and the 11th fastest o...
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The Question: So what do you think of L.A. Noire?


May 20
// Jim Sterling
[Every Friday, Destructoid will pose topical a question to the community. Answer it if you want!] We've got a pretty easy question this week -- L.A. Noire, yay or nay? The game released in North America this Tuesday, and in B...
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Team Bondi: L.A. Noire is very appealing to women


May 20
// Jim Sterling
According to developer Team Bondi, the superior female brain finds L.A. Noire a very rewarding experience. Moreso than Duke Nukem Forever? Crazy talk! "We think it appeals to a really broad church," said director Brendan McNa...
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Far Cry 2 dev: L.A. Noire derivative, uninspiring


May 20
// Jim Sterling
Far Cry 2's creative director, Clint Hocking, has slammed L.A. Noire six ways to Sunday, tearing the game apart as a piece of kitsch entertainment, and declaring that it has nothing to say for itself. Man, and sometimes I fee...
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Rockstar & Sony: L.A. Noire NOT causing PS3s to overheat


May 19
// Jim Sterling
Rockstar and Sony have issues a joint statement regarding the issue of L.A. Noire and overheating PS3 systems. Yesteday, Rockstar blamed PS3 Firmware 3.61. Today, Sony blamed L.A. Noire. Now? both companies have said it'...
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L.A. Noire gets new DLC June 21


May 19
// Jim Sterling
Rockstar has revealed that the first downloadable mission for L.A. Noire, the Nicholson Electroplating Arson Case, is scheduled to launch on June 21.  The content was first outed by Best Buy, when codes for the case were...
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L.A. Noire overheats Xbox 360s as well as PS3s (Update)


May 19
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Both companies claim this is a coincidence. We're staying on top of this story.] Yesterday, Rockstar had suggested that PS3 Firmware 3.61 was causing L.A. Noire to cook people's systems. Now it's become apparent that...
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L.A. Noire causing PS3s with latest Firmware to overheat?


May 18
// Jim Sterling
It seems poor Sony just cannot catch a break. The critically acclaimed PS3 Firmware 3.61 may be the cause of Sony consoles overheating when trying to play L.A. Noire. That is, if Rockstar's customer support warning is true.&n...
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Shipping error delays L.A. Noire for Amazon customers


May 17
// Jim Sterling
A significant number of Amazon customers are reporting that their copy of L.A. Noire has been delayed due to a mechanical fault with a UPS plane. The plane carried copies for North American customers, many of whom have Tweete...
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L.A. Noire once needed up to six discs on Xbox 360


May 17
// Jim Sterling
There's been some discussion about L.A. Noire requiring three discs on the Xbox 360 -- as there is when any game requires three discs on the Xbox 360 -- but things could have been a lot more controversial. According to Team B...
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Nicholson Electroplating Arson Case DLC for L.A. Noire


May 16
// Jim Sterling
Best Buy has outed the first planned downloadable investigation for L.A. Noire, the Nicholson Electroplating Arson Case. It was revealed as part of the store's midnight launch promotion, where the first 16 customers to buy th...

Review: L.A. Noire

May 16 // Jim Sterling
L.A. Noire (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: Team Bondi / Rockstar GamesPublisher: Rockstar GamesTo be released: May 17, 2011MSRP: $59.99 L.A. Noire is a game that will take many players by surprise. With its arcade driving controls and open world, not to mention the backing of Rockstar, your average gamer could be forgiven for thinking that this 1947 detective game might merely be Grand Theft Auto played from the other side of the law. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. L.A. Noire has more in common with point-and-click adventure games than open-world crime simulators, and it's better in practice than it may look on paper.  This isn't just a game where you drive around shooting drug dealers and chasing fiends in the name of rough justice. While there are plenty of shootouts and car chases to go around, the main spine of the game is in good old-fashioned detective work. Each case from the game's four main desks -- Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson -- starts with a crime scene, and as detective Cole Phelps, players will need to investigate for clues.  The collection of clues is an integral part of any case, as players will need to not only harvest them, but know when to bring them out during an interrogation. Some clues require manipulation, which is easily handled by the movement stick. Moving the analog stick causes Phelps' hand to rotate, allowing the player to spot vital information. Some items can also be opened up or unfolded, revealing evidence hidden within. L.A. Noire is good about player feedback, with vibrations and musical cues letting you know when you're near an item, or when all clues have been discovered. If a player feels this is too much like hand-holding, the cues can be turned off to make things more tricky.  L.A. Noire's many cases are split evenly between clue-hunting and interrogating. At various points during the course of the game, players will need to interview witnesses and suspects, and here's where L.A. Noire's utterly astounding facial animations come into play. L.A. Noire relies on a player's own ability to read body language and facial expressions, as they attempt to determine if a witness/suspect is being truthful, telling a lie, or omitting a vital piece of information. Giveaways, such as averting eye contact, false smiles, and awkward scratching, all come into play, and some characters are better liars than others.  I cannot express enough how impressed I am with the facial animation, and how it's been used not only as eye candy, but as an invaluable part of the gameplay itself. It's a joy to interview suspects and watch them talk in such a realistic fashion, using their movements to inform your own decisions. Without the animation, the game simply would not work, but I'm thrilled to report that it works beautifully.  Phelps can deal with a suspect's statements in one of three ways. He can take them as truth, call certain facts into doubt, or accuse them of telling an outright lie. If he makes an accusation, it needs to be backed up with evidence recovered from the locations explored previously. If the player suspects a lie but lacks the proof, a statement can be called into doubt. Naturally, characters aren't always hiding something, and in that case, their words can be taken as fact. Should Cole read a suspect correctly and select the right answer, he may get a new lead. If he fails, he could miss out on vital information.  For the most part, the interviews work to a fabulous degree, but they don't always make sense. Some of the logic seems a little arbitrary, especially when it comes to using contrary evidence against a suspect's statement. One also doesn't always know exactly how Phelps will call a statement into doubt or phrase an accusation, with his more unpredictable statements occasionally ruining a line of inquiry for you. While these moments do occur, and can be rather frustrating, I must stress how satisfying it is when it does work and you successfully interrogate a person. Getting a suspect on the ropes and making him divulge something crucial is particularly elating, and will make any player feel instantly more intelligent. Conversely, in those times when you screw up a question and it's definitely due to your own lack of perception, it can really sting. It can also affect the way a case plays out, too.  It's the fact that L.A. Noire's interrogations rely so heavily on natural intuition that really makes the whole thing work. As humans, we know how to read faces, and that's what L.A. Noire exploits. To be able to have a player think, "Okay, I can tell this guy is lying, but do I have proof?" is what this game is all about, and the fact that it works so well is truly, truly jaw-dropping. There's nothing about the game's internal algorithms that determines your success in this arena. It's all about how good you are, as a human being, at knowing when someone's being straight with you and when they're trying to be sneaky. I can think of no other game that has exploited a player's innate mental faculties so deftly. L.A Noire isn't just about finding clues and asking questions. Action sequences are peppered throughout the game to keep things frisky, and Cole will have to pursue various suspects on foot and in cars, get into brawls, or engage in violent shootouts. There's certainly a greater GTA flavor in these sequences, but they feel a lot tighter, with some impressive scripting and pacing, especially in the game's multitude of car chases. Avoiding screeching cars, having your partner shoot out tires, and stopping just as your suspect's vehicle gets hit by a bus and skids out of control all add up to create some of the game's most memorable moments. The action sequences are held back somewhat by a few dodgy control issues. Sprinting and shooting in cover are both handled by one button, and needing to manually back out of cover to chase somebody is a little fiddly. Phelp's movement controls could also be better; he takes wild swings to turn, and sometimes moves in stutters due to confused animations. These are minor grievances, however, and once players get used to the way Phelps handles, there shouldn't be too much aggravation. Much of the action is found in various "Street Crime" missions. These purely optional missions are activated over the police radio. Activating a Street Crime opens up a brief objective that does away with the investigative process and focuses purely on combat or pursuit. Street Crimes are unique to each of the four Desks, and you'll have to return to a previous Desk to clean up any ones you may have missed.  Successful interrogations and Street Crime completions award experience points, which contribute to Rank increases. Ranks bring special bonuses, such as unlockable vehicles, extra costumes and, most importantly, Intuition Points. Intuition can be used during the course of an investigation and can be invaluable to a player who's stuck in a rut. Using an Intuition Point during a crime scene will locate all clues on the mini-map, while using it during an interview can either remove one of the possible answers (for instance, confirming that a suspect isn't lying) or activate the "Ask The Community" option, which will take the game online to find out which answer is most popular among players.  When added together, the various elements of L.A. Noire combine to form one of the slickest, most impressively written games I've played in a long time. While the game has its low points -- with the Homicide desk surprisingly being the weakest section of the game due to some questionable narrative ideas that I won't spoil here -- L.A. Noire's overall plot is decidedly strong, up there with the best the medium has to offer. By the time it concludes, players will be shocked, satisfied and perhaps even a little angry. The characters are all rather memorable, with some highlights including the overtly religious Irish police captain, the deadbeat Arson detective, and the snake-like Roy Earle of AD Vice. Each case has its own intricately written story, with a unique set of characters and a fitting conclusion. The ability to replay cases is very welcome indeed, as some of them are simply too good to just be played once.  I also have to congratulate Team Bondi on tackling a number of disturbing themes in this game in a most classy and tactful way. There are moments in L.A. Noire that truly shock, with utterly horrifying moments and sleazy characters who run the gamut of the worst of humanity. L.A. Noire never plays these instances for aughs, and never shocks just for the sake of it. There is one particular crime scene that disturbed me more than anything else a game has ever produced, but it only served to make the story that much more compelling. Those looking for maturity and adult themes done right in gaming need look no further than Team Bondi and their efforts. If I have to dredge up a consistent negative for the game, it's that the AI could do with a little more fine-tuning. Players are given a partner for each crime desk, and while they generally keep out of the way and are good at defending themselves in a fight, they regularly like to hinder a player's movement during investigations, standing in front of them and trapping them in tight enclosures by refusing to move for a few moments. I've also had partners and civilians actually run in front of me while I'm trying to shoot at a criminal. If you hit an innocent just once, you'll fail the sequence.  Aside from facial animation, the motion capture overall is damn fine. Every now and then, you may be able to spot a clear disparity between the animation of the faces and the heads they're attached to, but such occasions are rare and easily ignored. I'm so pleased that the game managed to get characters that moved realistically yet didn't dive into the uncanny valley. These characters look believable, but not to a creepy degree, save for a few female faces that can look a little weird at times. In terms of the environment, a huge deal of L.A is rendered in a highly authentic 1940s style, and there are some impressive draw distances with only the occasional instance of textures or objects popping in. Otherwise, the framerate is smooth and the whole game runs well. I didn't encounter a single glitch, which is rare for an open-world game.  The movements and voice-overs were done by the same actors, who also look frighteningly like their digital counterparts (doing a Google Image Search for the actors can make for a fun -- and terrifying -- meta-game). All the voice acting, with the exception of a handful of bit characters, is outstanding. Professional and naturalistic, one of the finest vocal casts you'll find -- and this is coming from someone who is very discerning about voice acting.  L.A. Noire is a testament to the possibility of bringing dark, adult, mature games to the mainstream market. When I say mature, I don't just mean that it throws in sex and violence under the pretense of being for grown-ups. It is truly mature, with the kind of narrative you'd only expect to see in a major TV drama series or crime movie. No game released this generation has tackled the subject matter found in L.A. Noire with the same degree of intelligence and respect, and no game has blended gameplay from various genres so seamlessly, in a way that delivers something far more unique in experience than the sum of its parts.  Add that sense of uniqueness and intelligence to the fact that L.A. Noire is a terrific bloody videogame, and you have what is guaranteed to be a classic for years to come. True maturity and narrative depth in mainstream gaming begins right here.  Check out extended L.A. Noire coverage on Flixist and Japanator.
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L.A. Noire has been in development for at least seven years.  Not everything's worth waiting for.  Some things are. 

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PS3 lead platform for L.A. Noire


May 13
// Jim Sterling
Team Bondi has confirmed that the PlayStation 3 is the lead platform for L.A. Noire, with the Xbox 360 version being a port. According to the Aussie studio, most developers are doing it this way nowadays, because it's the bes...
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Here's your L.A. Noire launch trailer, folks!


May 11
// Jim Sterling
L.A. Noire releases next week after ten billion years, and we're all looking forward to it at Dtoid Towers. Here's the official launch trailer for the game, to get you in the mood. Check out that facial animation, it's absol...

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