If there is one upcoming game that is looking to expand the usual audience for video games, it has to be LA Noire. Rockstar Games have proven that they know what their fans desire, but it’s clear even this early on that LA Noire is aspiring to be much more than just another action title in the publisher’s stable. Now it seems that the team is so committed to delivering a widely-appealing dramatic experience, they’re making it possible for players to skip difficult missions altogether, and continue the story without any need to complete the objectives themselves.
Nothing can ruin a truly gripping game narrative like getting stuck in an infinite loop of failed missions, and the last thing a developer wants is for their players to feel helpless. Team Bondi is taking the issue to heart, and removing what often proves to be a serious frustration for gamers who value story over gameplay.
Rockstar’s previous two titles Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV both had their fair share of difficult missions and combat sequences, which in itself isn’t a problem, but a welcome challenge. But when a player is faced with a situation that they simply cannot succeed in, their ability to progress a story -a story they may be loving – is taken away from them.
LA Noire is putting even more of an emphasis on cinematic storytelling and realistic actor performances than those games, and instead of tweaking the difficulty to make a smoother experience for newcomers, the developers are approaching the problem from an entirely different direction. Players will still need to rely on their intellect and detective skills to interrogate possible suspects, but presumably won’t need to be as skilled at shooting or driving.
The Tribeca Film Festival has clearly taken note of just how many barriers are being broken down with the game’s emphasis on drama and story, naming LA Noire an Official Selection at this year’s proceedings. An hour-long gameplay video of LA Noire was screened last night at the festival, sending a very clear message about the wide audience Rockstar is hoping to attract to their newest property.
During the Q & A session immediately following, LA Noire‘s Art Director Rob Nelson explained that those new to video games need not worry about their familiarity with modern gameplay, as the developers have already removed the most intimidating barrier to entry.
If you can follow the story, that’s all that matters, as players will be given the choice to avoid the potentially troubling action sequences after failing them multiple times. As Nelson put it: “you can skip those action elements and still experience the bulk of the narrative.” If there was any doubt that LA Noire would be rearranging the priorities of typical Rockstar titles, this revelation should send the message loud and clear.
While some hardcore gamers may immediately see the concession as somewhat of a cop-out, you have to remember that the developers want LA Noire to appeal to everybody. Giving players the opportunity to just skip the game elements and enjoy the story makes sense considering Team Bondi’s intentions, and it already seems that the action sequences of the game really will be taking a back seat to the investigations.
Red Dead Redemption possessed a story that was even more standard and archetypal than LA Noire, but it’s a safe guess that many gamers have less-than-fond memories of the various shoot-outs and horse races that for one reason or another gave them massive headaches. But after hearing the choices being made available to players, we have to wonder if the developers will be offering the same assistance for particularly challenging cases.
What do you think of the latest news? Does the option to skip action scenes make LA Noire seem even more appealing to those looking for a compelling crime thriller, or do you feel it undermines the entire notion of a challenging gameplay experience?
Players will have the chance to play – or skip – their way through LA Noire when it’s released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on May 17, 2011.