PAXEast Preview – L.A. Noire
At some point in their career every gamer has probably stated that graphics aren’t everything as long as the gameplay is good, and some people still adamantly agree with that creed. Unfortunately for those people that isn’t always the case, as a game like L.A. Noire couldn’t exist in any other fashion. Using the most sophisticated motion capturing technology available, MotionScan, Rockstar Games has created not only what will become the definitive crime solving video game (let’s just say it is a little more advanced than CSI and Pheonix Wright games) but may also be up there with one of the greatest games ever made. And I am making this wildly bold claim having not actually placed my hands on a controller. Of all the lines I waited in at PAXEast none was as long of a wait as the line for L.A. Noire, since I lacked a formal appointment me and some friends had taken turns waiting in line for a ridiculous two and a half hours only to find out that it wasn’t even a playable demo, but a 25 minute gameplay demonstration. Three of the five of us were rather skeptical on the game from the beginning (some of my friends are anti-Rockstar), but I can assure you that none of us left that demonstration disappointed. As a matter of fact, that demonstration may have just been the highlight of an already awesome PAX.
As the title suggests, the game takes place in Los Angeles during the mid to late 1940’s. A lot of people may think of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood around that time, but the reality was that it was a pretty dark era. Crime and corruption were running rampant, America was still recovering from the Great Depression and World War II, and grotesque murders, such as the infamous Black Dhalia murder, were becoming quite commonplace. This can even be seen reflected in the film of the time, as movies began to become less campy and straight-laced and moved into a more dark and violent atmosphere the French had dubbed ‘film noir’. Some of the greatest crime films of all time have spawn from the film noir era such as The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Big Combo and Kiss Me Deadly; even many modern films such as Blade Runner and Sin City are heavily influenced by this genre. It is from this genre, as the title suggest yet again, that L.A. Noire draws much of its inspiration.
In L.A. Noire you play as Cole Phelps, played by Aaron Staton from Mad Men, a World War II veteran who is starting out in the Los Angeles Police Department. You will start out the game as a lowly traffic cop, walk a beat, eventually become a detective in the burglary division and work your way up to homicide, which is the major focus of the game it seems. The case that was shown during the demonstration was Cole’s first case as a homicide detective. I should note that despite the fact that Rockstar is known for their open world games it looks as if the cases are selected from a menu, though that may just be a mission replay option similar to Red Dead Redemption. This particular case involves the murder of a woman reminiscent to the Black Dhalia murder, Cole’s partner even remarks the similarity showing how many real life events are referred to in order to create a more authentic world. Upon arrival at the crime scene there are some people you can talk to, like the officer who found the body. There is evidence you can look around for, and you can also inspect the body. While doing the inspections to get to move the objects around pretty freely and realistically, tilting a head to reveal that the victim died of a blow to the head. A piece of evidence on the ground provides a solid lead to a
local club, which was the next location to check after the crime scene. At the club Cole talks to the bartender, finding out that the victim was in the bar the previous night and had been drunk. You can interrogate the owner of the club as well, which showed the many ways in which interrogation works. Basically you select a relevant question from a list and listen to the response of the suspect, while they talk you need to pay close attention to thier facial animations as that is the major clue as to the validity of their claim. After hearing them talk you can either accept what they say as truth, doubt what they are saying, or call them out as lying, but if you accuse them of lying you better have some evidence to back yourself up. It is a very well done system, and the way in which dialogue can string from these decisions provides much more than the usual set path you see in the CSI game series since you may botch the interrogation and need to seek your next lead from other sources. The trail eventually led to the husband who, when caught in a lie, tried to fight back against Cole and his partner. While no gunplay was involved the fist fighting looked very similar to other Rockstar titles suck as Bully and The Ballad of Gay Tony; I can’t tell you for sure however, as I was only watching from the benches.
All in all they showed us about 25 minutes of one case, the number of cases is still anyone’s guess but the man hosting the demonstration said that what they showed was only a small portion of the one case, since we can only guess that the husband was not the murder and there was more to the crime.
L.A. Noire seems to be shaping up quite nicely, and it appears that Team Bondi, the studio behind the game’s development, has brought a unique experience to the usual Rockstar fare. The game is due out on May 17th on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 and has prompted me to take two vacation days from work in order to enjoy it (though that will hardly be enough time), it has now become my most anticipated game of 2011 (previously Uncharted 3) and you can bet I’ll be getting a review up as soon as I am able. In the meantime however you can enter our PAXEast contest, the swag bag prize contains two posters for L.A. Noire, a bunch of stickers with the game’s logo, and a T-Shirt.PAXEast Preview - L.A. Noire,