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Why L.A. Noire’s hero seems so angry

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L.A. Noir's Cole Phelps

For a detective whose star is rising at a phenomenal rate, Cole Phelps sure is angry.

There's no crime in L.A. Noire he can't solve, but his people skills are a bit lacking. Even when a witness is cooperating with his investigation, he'll inevitably start shouting at them, a behavior that always mystified players.

Now, developers are finally explaining the detective's anti-social tendencies. And it turns out that Phelps isn't actually bi-polar.

"When we originally wrote the game, the questions you asked were coax, force and lie," says Brendan McNamara, who headed the project for the now defunct Team Bondi. "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 [Phelps voice actor] Aaron [Staton] on the second question is a psycho. So that's not his fault."

Of course, Phelps could have been a bit peeved that while his facial expressions were realistic, the rest of him was less so. Some jokingly called the game's citizens "dead from the neck down" since clothes never moved and the torsos sometimes moved in a jerky fashion.

McNamara says that was, in part, a case of the company's advances in facial motion capture working against it.

"Once you attune to that level of realism, then you start looking for other things," he says. "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."

L.A. Noire was profitable for publisher Take-Two Interactive Software, but wasn't the blockbuster many expected it to be. Team Bondi was forced to shut down following the game's development. It also was accused of promoting unfair working conditions.

Most employees moved over to an Australian production company owned by George Miller, creator of the Mad Max franchise, but McNamara opted to strike out on his own. He's in the process of pitching his next game to publishers now.

L.A. Noire: The Complete Collection, which includes the original game and all downloadable content, hit shelves this week.

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