Back when LA Noire was making the rounds as a potential game of the year contender a lot of talk was centered on the game’s stunningly realized facial animations, but a few things were still holding the title back. Among those hindrances was the game’s inconsistent voice work, which seemed to fluctuate depending on whether the player believed their witness was telling the truth, lying, or hiding something.
As it turns out, though, the reason for that disparity, which saw protagonist Cole Phelps often going completely crazy on witnesses, is much more simple: the original choices weren’t truth, doubt, lie.
In fact, when the game was first being developed, Team Bondi wanted to have Cole Phelps “work” to get an answer out of his witness, and therefore the choices were originally coax, force, and lie. It makes much more sense to think that instead of doubting the witnesses, Phelps is coaxing the witness by hitting them with a fervent intensity.
Speaking during an Animation Festival, Brendan McNamara (former member of Team Bondi) shares more:
"A lot of people say that Aaron [Staton, who played Phelps] goes a little bit psycho with some of the questions you ask in the game. When we originally wrote it, the questions you asked were Coax, Force and Lie. So Force was a more aggressive answer, and that's where we actually recorded it…But when the game came out, it was Truth, Doubt and Lie, so everyone says that Aaron on the second question goes psycho, but that's just the way we wrote it from before."
By changing the interrogation options, not only did Team Bondi completely alter the experience from being more proactive to reactive, but they also turned it into more of a detective experience. Rather than simply picking the right intimidation response, the player was forced to use their memory and judge of facial reactions in order to determine the validity of a NPC's response. Personally, I’m glad they switched to the truth, doubt, and lie choices, but I wish they had re-recorded the dialogue.
It’s been a very troubled past couple of months for McNamara and the folks at Team Bondi, what with the developer going bankrupt and being dismantled, but the legacy of LA Noire will hopefully live on. While the MotionScan technology used for the game hasn’t made the jump into any other products, one has to imagine we’ll be seeing it again.
Was Cole Phelps “psycho” reactions one of LA Noire’s biggest flaws? Would you have preferred the interrogation options were force, coax, and lie?