LA Noire is an example of many of the great developments in the gaming industry at the moment, and an excellent example of where it is headed. I am am not assuming that every future game will, or even should be similar to LA Noire – we still need variety in terms of graphics, game play etc., to enjoy gaming thoroughly, but LA Noire has set the standards higher for all games, not just those in its category.
The Many Faces of LA Noire
A Crime-fighting RPG game, when LA Noire’s trailer was first released it left gamers entranced by the unmatched attention to detail for each character’s face. Many hoped that the game would live up to the seemingly impossible expectation of being able to tell when a character is lying through subtle facial gestures or even realistic ‘tells’ that some people have when they lie. Team Bondi didn’t disappoint as they used ‘Motion Scan’ technology to capture each actor’s face as they played a scene.
Each actor's face and voice was recorded simultaneously using a myriad of cameras placed at different angles allowing for the most convincing scene possible. The level of visual detail this allowed Team Bondi to produce is extraordinary. Often players find it difficult to tell whether they are being lied to while other characters could not make their 'tells' more obvious if they tried.
Can Every Game Look Like This?
The level of realism reached, both visually and interactively, by LA Noire has left gamers wondering how other games will compare to it, at the very least visually. Most players first reaction would be to wonder what all games would be like if this technology was used but, as visually enthralling as this technology is it will not be used in all, or possibly even many future games for several reasons. Firstly, it takes a lot of time to find an actor for each part, have them act out each scene (and perfectly at that) and then apply the visualization to the game. Also, is costs a lot more financially than using traditional game graphics. Then, there is the fact that most games would not benefit from this technology in any way other than visually – in LA Noire it was vital to ensure that players were challenged by each character. Using this technology simply for its visual effect seems like a very pointless and expensive waste of time.
LA Noire also boasts a very detailed player-interaction system when it comes to interviewing victims, suspects and witnesses. At first glance it does not seem that detailed – a list of questions and a list of evidence, but as these lists grow you may find yourself doubting what a piece of evidence really means and picking the wrong evidence means you could find it hard to stick a conviction to a suspect.
Unlike most traditional video games, in LA Noire the supposed 'good guys' (in this case the witnesses) are not always being completely honest with Detective Phelps and not pushing the right buttons, both literally and figuratively, could jeopardize your case. Being able to tell whether a character is lying to you or not actually depends on how good you are at being able to tell in real life to a certain degree since the characters are so realistic. This is where the game can become very difficult for players who do not have that natural ability to spot a liar.
Virtual World: 1940s LA
One of the main reasons that I think that Team Bondi have headed the gaming industry towards a virtual reality gaming future is not because of the use of realistic visuals coupled with well placed psychology, it is in face because they effectively recreated 1940s LA.
Using aerial photographs taken during the 1940s Rockstar rebuilt LA so that we could drive, run and walk around it as detective Cole Phelps solving murders and fighting crime. This is definitely a step towards a virtual reality of some sort – recreating, not just a scene but, an entire city in such detail and adding such detailed character interactions is the most immersive gameplay that is possible at the moment and as with all things it must, and will develop further.
Rockstar – Taking It to the Next Level
When Red Dead Redemption was released by Rockstar in May 2010 it was hailed as having pushed the boundaries for all future RPGs in terms of the level of detail in the graphics, voice acting and map size. Now with the release of LA Noire Rockstar are becoming glorified, not for their perfection of the sandbox RPG but, for continually pushing the boundaries and I personally cannot wait to see what they come up with next.
Jahme, Carole. “The Psychology Within LA Noire",https://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/20/la-noire-psychology-detective-phelps
Broughall, Nick. “The Story behind LA Noire's Creepy-Real faces",https://kotaku.com/5714438/the-story-behind-la-noires-creepy+real-faces
All Screenshots taken from LA Noire