by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on X360
The Art of Lying
That, plus your interviewing skills. The interviewing of suspects and witnesses is vital to the solving of real-life crimes and it will be no different here. However, this won’t be as simple as selecting the right choices in a dialogue tree. Team Bondi have introduced a new kind of technology that will, according to several sources, change the way in-game characters are rendered. Much buzz has been made about L.A. Noire’s face rendering technology. Brendan McNamara, Team Bondi’s founder, began a motion-capture studio called Depth Analysis solely for the purpose of creating the facial expressions for L.A. Noire. When early renderings simply weren’t doing the trick, McNamara set out to revolutionize the way they are made and, judging from early previews of the technology, he and the folks at Depth Analysis are truly on to something.
Taking place in a large studio in Sydney, Australia, most actors in the game (reportedly over 300) acted out their scenes while roughly 32 cameras captured their performance. The motions and acting given were transferred to computers and reanimated for use in the video game. The technology, called (surprise surprise) ‘motion-scan’, has seemingly upped the ante for all facial animation in a game, even giving the developers of Heavy Rain a run for their money.
Now, when suspects and witnesses come under the heat lamp, you’ll be forced to squint at every facial twitch and change the characters make. Is the suspect actually innocent? Could the witness be hiding something to protect themselves? Are you wasting your time or are you on the cusp of solving the case?
Assisting you in these interrogations will be the use of Coax, Accuse or Force, your three main options for moving the questioning along, but you’ll need to watch yourself. Accuse too soon and the person will clam up and not say a thing. Coax too lightly and you’ll never get anywhere. Force too often and your superiors may come down on you. It will be a delicate balancing act as you try and pry out the information you want while also making sure you don’t lose it forever.
Taking the Case
But screwing up and dropping the lead happens in real life, and Team Bondi, sticking to their mantra of realism, looks to keep that up. Though some cases may have up to nine different endings, the developers have stated that you might not be able to solve all the cases. But don’t fret because you’ll have other ways of moving on. One dead-end case may be the beginning of a new one. A slow-moving case may cross paths with another or lead back to a cold one. Each case is even given its own title and though they’ll often be independent of one another, they’ll somehow help feed the overall story.
And the story looks to be as intriguing as any nourish tale of thugs, guns and cops. The gritty flow of a detective novel has never been overlooked and L.A. Noire looks to stay in line with that. With a script over 2200 pages, equivalent to 12 years of a TV series or 12 feature-length films, and over 20 hours of voice acting recorded, the scope of the story looks to be as large as the scope of Los Angeles itself. And though some of the stereotypes are intact (Cole Phelps’s WW2 past and all its secrets come back to haunt him, and several of your partners will play the age-old ‘bad cop’ role to your good cop), considering all the changes L.A. Noire might bring to the industry, it’s safe to overlook them.
Bringing It Home
The in-depth detective work, the expansive and detailed city and the earnest aspirations built into L.A. Noire should give any fan of hardboiled fiction an excuse for anticipation. The gunplay is one of the biggest pieces of the game that so far has been given little to no press but if Team Bondi can inject that aspect with as much precision and thought that they’ve given to the other main features, gamers need not worry about the thrill of the action. If all these parts can combine into a captivating symphony of foggy streets, shady women and cynical gumshoes, then Team Bondi might just introduce the noir genre to a new home.