PAX East 2011: L.A. Noire Brings Unparalleled Realism to Virtual Characters

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PAX East 2011: L.A. Noire Brings Unparalleled Realism to Virtual Characters

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L.A. Noire puts you face to face with virtual suspects that you'll believe are real.

Rockstar brought a brand new demo of L.A. Noire to PAX East 2011 that exposed the unique, and sometimes gruesome, aspects of the game. While it has an open world like previous Rockstar efforts, L.A Noire is certainly not Grand Theft Auto played from the perspective of a police officer.

First of all, L.A. Noire is a very serious game. Rockstar says that the game has its share of lighter elements, but overall it wouldn't make sense for L.A Noire to be goofy due to the subject matter involved, which often revolves around brutal murders and other crimes.

Speaking of brutal murders, Rockstar showed off a case from the homicide desk called the "Red Lipstick Murder." At the start, the case opens with a noir-style vignette showing the murder being committed by a silhouette (with a little bit of Sin City's style in there through spurting blood), and then the scene switches to the police station. Cole, the game's main character, is promoted to homicide detective, given the case and a new partner (partners will vary by case desk), and sent on his way.

The obvious first location Cole visits is the scene of the crime to investigate and speak with the coroner. However, L.A. Noire's investigation goes more in depth than just walking around, picking up matchbooks, and examining footprints. For this case, players actually get hands-on with the dead body of a completely naked female, examining her nasty head wound, the damage to her hands, and any other "points of interest" that relate to the crime. Once the cause of death has been determined, players search for evidence in the general area around the body. Cole finds a small globe, which the player must rotate in a mini-puzzle to open it up and reveal the address of a bar. Off to the bar, then.

In the bar, a reluctant bartender and regular are questioned. This is where L.A. Noire's innovative motion capture system really shines. It honestly made the story scenes more realistic than anything I've seen before, but when the actors are zoomed in on you can really tell if they're lying, trying to hide something, or just acting weird because of minute facial ticks, eye movement, and more. It's all very subtle too, which makes the effect even more impressive. The bartender was obviously annoyed with police questioning, but didn't appear to be lying, while the regular definitely had something to hide.

Interrogation isn't complicated, but players have to use a notebook that gradually gets filled with evidence to their advantage. While questioning a suspect, players can choose to believe a statement, doubt it, or outright accuse the person of lying. Some suspects might ask Cole to backup his accusations with a piece of evidence in the notebook. Rockstar revealed that you cannot fail a case, but the way that you reach its end will be very different depending on your accuracy and investigative skills, so there's a lot of variety. The game shows players what they got right and what they got wrong after an interrogation and awards experience points accordingly, which will cause players to rank up and give them intuition points that make interrogations easier. Cole squeezed the address of the murdered woman's ex-husband out of the man at the bar, and took off.

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You can drive around L.A. Noire's 8 square miles of 1947 Los Angeles yourself, or you can have your partner take the wheel if you feel lazy. Rockstar said that the game definitely has the open world that fans are accustomed to from previous titles, but it isn't quite as crazy with random quests or pizza delivery missions. Side cases will pop up on the radio at times, but everything will make sense for a police officer of the era.

At the ex-husband's house, Cole enters with gun drawn. The owner was home, and he's informed of his potential future arrest for murder while Cole explores the house for damning evidence. As players explore, a piano chime will play that indicates a something is nearby to check out. Not everything is important, because that'd be too easy, so players have to determine what matters and what doesn't. Thankfully, Rockstar has implemented what it calls "investigation music" which will stop playing when there's nothing left to find, so you won't wander around an apartment endlessly for no reason.

Cole finds a pad of paper and does a pencil rubbing, uncovering the words of a note previously written by the ex-husband saying he had to "do something about his wife." However, while interrogating the man, his face seemed to show that he knew something, but he didn't appear to be the killer. You could really tell this from his face. Cole uses the pad of paper to catch the man in a lie, and it's revealed that he had someone else perform the murder for him.

Grand Theft Auto was Rockstar's innovative open world game, Red Dead Redemption was an innovative western, and L.A. Noire is set to be an innovative experience as a police officer from the 1940s with a realistic bent. Cole will experience a wide variety of cases as he moves from the traffic desk, to homicide, and beyond. If the entire game plays out like this single case shown at PAX East 2011, L.A. Noire will be one impressive game.

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This is the kind of game I've wanted for a long time.

It's just unfortunate there doesn't seem to be any kind of PC adaptation in the works. My Xbox is going through some pretty rough times by freezing at the most random times.

Good on Team Bondi for avoiding vaporware-status.

I'm really looking forward to this game, I've always thought the industry needs more detective/investigatory games.

I'm extremely excited... but that first screenshot is really a bit too much for me.

Still, this looks like the ultimate detective game. A shame all everyone really talks about is facial animation.

Good on Rockstar for actually doing something to push the industry further, bad on them for leaving my people out in the cold.

This is solid info that just sold a game I didnt plan on getting it before but this sounds like the kinda stuff I been wanting in a game time to preorder on amazon

Captcha:vireern unclonable

JourneyThroughHell:
I'm extremely excited... but that first screenshot is really a bit too much for me.

Still, this looks like the ultimate detective game. A shame all everyone really talks about is facial animation.

to be fair, if L.A. Noire's facial animations are as good as we have been told, this might be the jump we need to get past the uncanny valley.

I like the direction this game sets you off in, we really do need more Police/Detective games.

I'm really looking forward to this, if Red Dead Redemption is anything to go by this should be a great experience, I'm just upset I've only got a xbox 360 and not a ps3 so I wont be able to play it, 40s noire is one of my favourite settings, more stuff needs to be made like this.

Considering this is what I do all day...
It's kind of weird that I still want this game. Though I get the feeling I will either be annoyed at inaccuracies or be unable to separate real procedure from that in the game and be very bad at it. (Kind of like how I'm much better at firing a real gun than a video game one)

JourneyThroughHell:
I'm extremely excited... but that first screenshot is really a bit too much for me.

Still, this looks like the ultimate detective game. A shame all everyone really talks about is facial animation.

Speaking as an actual detective; You'd be surprised how much detective work is just reading people. (everything CSI has taught you is complete science fiction)

edit: I investigate thefts, robberies, etc. Not murders... but the procedures are pretty similar.

Tom Goldman:
Snip

Will there be a Multiplayer, similar to that of RDR? Just wondering. Since I wiwll of course play the SP first, but I would like to have something to do after. :)

elvor0:
I'm really looking forward to this, if Red Dead Redemption is anything to go by this should be a great experience, I'm just upset I've only got a xbox 360 and not a ps3 so I wont be able to play it, 40s noire is one of my favourite settings, more stuff needs to be made like this.

its on both PS3 and 360

This looks like pure gold. This is the first time I bemoan only using a PC.

Facial animations are great. The faces themselves are pretty ugly - I'm kind of at a loss as to why they've got all this mo-cap done, and then used some of the flattest, blandest textures on the characters' faces.

Anyway, I am slowly becoming more interested in this. I hope most of it has been written by Bondi though, because I don't know how much more of Rockstar's pacing I can take.

On paper this looks to be one of the best, most interesting games ever. I really really hope LA Noire is as good as it sounds. It could (in my eyes at least) go a long way in proving the validity of mature themed videogames.

ace_of_something:

JourneyThroughHell:
I'm extremely excited... but that first screenshot is really a bit too much for me.

Still, this looks like the ultimate detective game. A shame all everyone really talks about is facial animation.

Speaking as an actual detective; You'd be surprised how much detective work is just reading people. (everything CSI has taught you is complete science fiction)

For starters, CSI?

Also, yeah, I know that a person's facial expression can give away a lot, but it's still disheartening that that's the only thing anyone ever mentions about the game.

Totally no hyperbole there.

Korten12:

Tom Goldman:
Snip

Will there be a Multiplayer, similar to that of RDR? Just wondering. Since I wiwll of course play the SP first, but I would like to have something to do after. :)

I believe I asked and they said no, but don't quote me on that.

If I won the lottery right now, I would pay them to port it to the PC. I want it that badly.

Innovative motion capture ? How ? Its a very "lazy" method and it surely has some huge limitations. But hell, it looks good.

Still haven't been sold on this one. I need to see some gameplay first, but it definitely has potential.

I want to reserve it, but don't know if it will turn out as amazing as I hope it will be.

8 square miles?... that puts it roughly slightly smaller then GTA San andrea's =/ i was hoping for a slightly bigger world but so long as the play area is very detailed with lots to do =)

This game looks awesome, in fact, this entire year is just going to be a drain on my wallet in terms of awesome games.

Also this is kinda good for rockstar, I'd like to see guys like Jack Thompson try and call this a murder simulator like for the GTA series when your actually the one solving the murders.

Why can't they make a "Who framed Roger Rabbit" game with this technology instead?

HerbertTheHamster:
Why can't they make a "Who framed Roger Rabbit" game with this technology instead?

I think a better question is why don't you get your foot in the door and buy the rights so we could enjoy that idea?

OT: I was sold from the very beginning on L.A. Noire (Not to mention it has my initials in the title, sort of) and I still won't sway on that opinion. I am going to buy this game as my first Pre-Ordered title and hope to have a good time with it.

See, what I worry about for this game is that it isn't going to have much difficulty in it.

All of the clues are already there, and I bet if you walk close to them an icon will appear saying "Press X to pick up cigarette" or something. And with musical queues showing when there's nothing else left to investigate, people will just stay in the area until everything is found. It's kind of like Heavy Rain where the only reason you would miss something is if you just didn't explore enough.

I dunno, I'm a bit worried about it, but it still looks awesome. I am loving the setting and the style, so I can't wait to get my hands on it.

The gameplay sounds a lot like an electronic version of Pelgrane's GUMSHOE p&p rpg system. As that's one of my favourite systems, consider me signed up. ;)

Hopefully you can turn off musical clues, it sounds a bit too easy. Also experience points for completing cases well sounds silly, if you're good at reading faces you'll want the game to become more challenging when it'll just get easier, and if you aren't any good at reading faces you'll just keep struggling.

That said my hopes are still high.

Thank you for letting my partner drive I actually appreciate that one... as for everything else, it just feels like they're holding you by the hand and that kind ruins the experience and the fact you don't have a chance of failing each case then what's the point...

Tom Goldman:

Korten12:

Tom Goldman:
Snip

Will there be a Multiplayer, similar to that of RDR? Just wondering. Since I wiwll of course play the SP first, but I would like to have something to do after. :)

I believe I asked and they said no, but don't quote me on that.

The Rockstar Q&A on Facebook revealed that there wasn't going to be any multiplayer, with a single play as strong as LA:N, a mutliplayer would have only taken away from the LA:N experience.

"There will be no multiplayer component of L.A. Noire - the combination of innovative technology and unique gameplay that allow you to solve crimes through interrogations and investigation is really one that's geared entirely for a single-player experience. Trust us that this is a game unlike any you've played before - very different not only for us here at Rockstar but for videogames as a medium. Bolting on generic multiplayer on top of that would not make much sense, or be a good use of our time or development budget! Hope this clears up any confusion. We thought this would be spelt out in some of last week's previews, but as it wasn't, we felt we should clarify ourselves." - R*

Pre-ordered. I love detective stories, and this just shows how there's a severe lack for detective games as opposed to FPS's. I hope this catches on so that we can see more of this genre.

Also, I'm not concerned about there not being any multiplayer. That space could be used to fit in a couple cases/side missions, which is never a bad thing.

The only thing I'm concerned with is that it'll share the adventure game's curse: once you beat the game, you're given little incentive to play again since you know the correct path, unless you didn't get everything right the first time around. Maybe the replayability is seeing all the different ways that the case can end up, since Rockstar said that you can't fail a case?

Too bad it's not for PC. And adventure game like this begs for a PC release.

ace_of_something:
(everything CSI has taught you is complete science fiction)

You mean like how witnesses are unimportant and that all that matters is the evidence? Yeah, I always thought that was complete baloney. :P

elvor0:
I'm really looking forward to this, if Red Dead Redemption is anything to go by this should be a great experience, I'm just upset I've only got a xbox 360 and not a ps3 so I wont be able to play it, 40s noire is one of my favourite settings, more stuff needs to be made like this.

L.A. Noire is coming out for both 360 and PS3.
OT: Might have to pre-order this...

is this going to have the black darhila case

No PC version? Shame.

Also rotating a globe puzzle to find an address? Is this Murder Mystery or "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiago?"

solidsnake101023:
is this going to have the black darhila case

I've heard it does, or that there's at least something similar. I wouldn't be the one to ask, though.

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