I was able to catch a glimpse of Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire at PAX East. Although it was a hands-off demo, what the developers showed me completely blew me away. L.A. Noire centers around Cole Phelps, a war hero who comes home to late 1940’s Los Angeles. Cole joins the police force and has to solve crimes while working his way up the ranks.
Rockstar Games started by showing us a little montage that showed someone murdering a woman and then the title card, “The Red Lipstick Murder.” To start, they stated that the game features cases based on those that actually occurred in the era. They may have been altered a bit, but I can say they did not censor them.
During the first crime scene, there is a completely naked body on the ground. You can move about the area, examining various body parts and other evidence. There are both visual and sound cues to show when you have discovered something of interest. The guys demonstrating the game also told us that not every item is integral to solving the crime, and each crime can be solved multiple ways. To house all of this information, Cole has a notebook that saves all the people of interest. This includes information such as alibis and phone numbers, and even locations that needed to be visited.
This is where we are introduced to the world of L.A. Noire. It is basically eight square miles of 1947 L.A. that has been created to explore. We were not able to see any of the driving, due to the time constraints, but we did see the cutscenes within the game. Wow, the cutscenes were stunning. The animation system Team Bondi is using is amazing; you can even see if someone is lying just by the way they act during an interrogation. The only part that did look wrong was the fact that the face is so full of emotion, but the rest of the body looks more robotic. This is just the nature of using two different systems to animate the same character.
Choice is a big part of each case. During interrogation, you must decide if a person of interest is telling the truth, lying to your face, or withholding information. There are even intuition points that allow you to almost take a “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” approach by polling the Rockstar Social Club or removing an incorrect answer. In the case we were shown, the husband (a suspected murderer) was shying away from you and by selecting the “lying” option, you basically forced a confession that he had hired help. This isn’t a spoiler in the main story, but just shows the care taken to keep you guessing.
During these cases, you will fight both unarmed people and criminals armed to the teeth, race cars and more. Each case takes about two hours, based on play-testing, and there are more than a dozen of them, so this game is going to be long. The change in tone for L.A. Noire is almost the antithesis of their previous games, as it is super serious in tone. We even were told that the game is an M-Rated one and based on what I saw, it is justified. I am glad to see Rockstar Games going the serious storytelling route because it is one that the industry needs. I found myself engrossed in the small piece of the game shown and I can already see that it is a day one purchase for me, because I want to see more games like L.A. Noire, period.
For more details on L.A. Noire, visit www.rockstargames.com/lanoire.