PAX EAST 2011: L.A. Noire (Xbox 360, PS3) Preview
Posted by John De Large on 03.30.2011
Extended look: Gaming columnist JDL got an intimate look at L.A. Noire. What's his verdict on Rockstar's latest game?
One of the first appointments I made back at PAX East was with Rockstar, who showed off L.A. Noire. It set the bar high early on and made it difficult for me to be as impressed by anything else.
L.A. Noire is the story of Cole Phelps who fought in Okinawa during WWII. Following his discharge from the military, Cole becomes a detective who finds himself trying to do the right thing and work his life out as he takes on cases that involve arson, homicide and trafficking in 1947 Los Angeles.
The graphics are spectacular and the character models have the best facial modeling that I've ever seen personally. Filmed using 34 (!!!) HD cameras, look uncannily realistic. However, the work that went into capturing such realistic facial models isn't just for show. Players will need to observe the faces of NPC's as they interview them while on cases and point out nervous or suspicious facial tics to figure when they're being lied to.
Being a Rockstar game, you'd expect there to be a lot of chaos and a lot of reckless driving, but as Cole, players do very little of their own driving. Cole will be chauffeured from scene to scene by his partner (name) and clues, details and everything important is kept in order by a Moleskin interface.
Speaking of crime scenes, they get really graphic. One murder scene had a nude corpse (shown nude too, no censorship here) mutilated almost beyond recognition. As Cole, players can manipulate the body, move it around and inspect it in various different ways in order to find clues surrounding victim's death.
When investigating places of interest, like a suspects apartment or a similar locale, tense brooding music will play. When passing in front of or by something a player might have missed, an even tenser piano string will cut through the soundtrack to let players know that they might want to double check their surroundings.
As mentioned before players will also need to interview suspects by reading their facial reactions, but also by listening to their testimony. When they've finished giving their statement you can accept what they say and proceed, doubt them/press them or contradict what they say using evidence (Phoenix Wright would be proud!) Using L.A. Noire's intuition system and intuition points, players can remove an questioning option (trust, doubt, contradict), ask the Rockstar Social Club for an answer or reveal all the clues on the location. There'll even be options for Cole to play a little bit of bad cop too, but nothing that takes him too far off the path to being a good guy.
To uncover the truth behind what's going on in Los Angeles grab a copy of L.A. Noire on May 17th (May 20th in the UK) for the PS3 and Xbox 360.