From Beat Cop to Hard-Boiled Detective - L.A. Noire Preview
Up until the last year, Rockstar was being ultra secretive about L.A. Noire, a 1940s crime game set in Los Angeles. Over the past few months, the publisher behind Grand Theft Auto and Australian developer Team Bondi have released several interviews, development blogs, and trailers that have shed light on the project. Surprisingly, L.A. Noire is not an open world action-adventure game, and although it revolves around crime, you’re not the one committing these crimes.
Climb the Ranks of the Police Force
You play as Cole Phelps, a respected member of the Los Angeles police force and World War II hero. You are placed in a crime-ridden L.A. and it is your job to solve case after case as you climb the ladder of success in the LAPD. It certainly isn’t typical Rockstar Games fare, and progression of the game tasks you with cracking more difficult cases the further you go along.
A New Breed of Adventure Game
One of the things that makes L.A. Noire stand out among its Rockstar brethren is its gameplay. Make no mistake about it, there is a massive Los Angeles area—which according to Rockstar has been realistically captured—for you to explore and drive around in, but this is no sandbox game. Instead, L.A. Noire takes a more linear approach and requires you to stick close to the story, completing missions on a case by case basis. You’ll find cases on your desk, and it is your job to solve them all so you can climb the ranks of the police force.
The game plays a lot like an adventure game with a few modifications. Through the entirety of L.A. Noire, you come across a multitude of crime scenes. Rape, murder, and planned car accidents are just a few of the situations you have to deal with, and you can bet there will be plenty of evidence at the locations which these events took place in. It is your job to look around for clues, investigate rooms, learn about victims, culprits, and witnesses, and collect cold, hard evidence.
The game is a modern take on the classic pulp genre, and there is plenty of interrogation to be done. If you’re on a murder case and you need to find the guilty party, for example, you’ll have to find suspects and interrogate them fully. You can choose to believe them, press them for more info, or simply accuse them of the crime. If you choose to go with the last option, however, you better have some hard evidence on you, because making an error can cost you, requiring you to work harder as you continue to solve the case.
Motion-Capture Technology and Facial Scans
While L.A. Noire is essentially an adventure game, the interrogation aspect is much deeper than most other games in the genre. This is due to the impressive (and by the looks of it, expensive) motion-capture technology that is being put to use by the developers. Actual actors and actresses are being used to fill the shoes of the many characters seen in L.A. Noire (Aaron Staton from Mad Men plays the part of Phelps).
These actors wear special suits, have their makeup and hair modeled specifically for the game, and have various cameras on them at all times. That means everything from the pout of a lip to the wrinkling of a forehead is captured accurately for the game. Oh, and if you’re wondering, this technology is being utilized for both the cutscenes and the actual gameplay.
This is what makes L.A. Noire stand out among other adventure games. Rather than simply relying on evidence and whatever it is your suspects are telling you, you’ll have to keep a close eye on their facial expressions. Notice a nervous twitch? Perhaps the sexy woman you’re pressing for clues gave you an unconvincing smirk. You can use these visual cues to your advantage, and they’ll help you determine whether you’re being lied to or not. It’s an interesting implementation, and one that will make for some very intriguing interrogation gameplay.
Cars and Guns
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hey, this is a Rockstar game! Are there really no action-adventure elements?” Though L.A. Noire is mostly a linear adventure game, there are a number of action-packed shootouts that take place throughout the course of the game. These instances haven’t been detailed in full, but it’s highly likely that you’ll have to gun down mobs and petty thugs as you roam Los Angeles. Also, because you have access to vehicles, you’ll come across the occasional call where you must report to the scene of a crime and solve an unexpected case. L.A. Noire doesn’t focus on side missions or anything of that nature, but there will still be a few extras to spend your time with here and there.
L.A. Noire Preview - Draw Your Own Conclusions
“I want you to draw your own conclusions.” This is a line spoken by a character in the trailer for L.A. Noire, and it certainly fits with the game’s style. Not only does the game require you to explore crime scenes and get answers by word of mouth, but you must also pay close attention to the facial expressions of your suspects. This game may not appeal to every Rockstar fan out there, but gamers looking for an intriguing adventure game will definitely want to watch out for L.A. Noire. The game is expected to launch for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in spring 2011, with an April 5 release date currently speculated on numerous websites.