After the success of Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar’s next project focused on the “good” side of the law in L.A. Noire. Grand Theft Auto V was still two years away from release, but because of how good L.A. Noire was, GTA V was in the back of everyone’s mind rather than the front.
Like other Rockstar games, L.A. Noire was another open-world sandbox game. What truly separates it from the other Rockstar games was the use of MotionScan to create the most realistic looking faces ever shown in a video game that were not pre-rendered graphics. If our current seventh generation gaming consoles can create such realistic looking faces, I’m waiting to see what the next-gen eighth generation can do to the entire character.
Set in Los Angeles in the 1940’s, you play primarily as Cole Phelps, (brilliantly voiced and motion captured by Aaron Stanton of Mad Men fame) an ex-Marine who served in World War II before moving to LA to become a cop. Phelps being one of the only good/by-the-book cops doesn’t make him many friends, but his ability to solve cases makes all of his fellow officers respect him.
The game starts off with Phelps still a beat cop. As he solves cases he gets promoted to Traffic, then Homicide and finally Vice. Each case has its own little quirks so even when you’re investigating the third strangling murder in a row, it doesn't feel like you’re playing the same level over and over again.
Since detective work is the main part of the game, this isn’t simply Grand Theft Auto: Cop Edition. Cole never hurts innocents and only draws his gun in specific scenarios where violence is necessary, meaning you can’t run around shooting everything that moves.
After collecting enough evidence through clues found and information given by people, it’s up to Phelps to arrest the correct person, through interrogation. This is where the MotionScan technology makes the game. During each interrogation/questioning session you ask questions to the perps and then based on their facial expressions they make after answering, you need to deduce if they are telling the truth, holding out information or flat out lying to you. The first few times it’s easy but as you start interviewing people who have made a career from lying, it gets tough to properly read them.
If you are a fan either of Rockstar Games or the Film Noir genre, this is a must play. Rockstar went through more than 800,000 photos of the era to recreate what Los Angeles looked like in the 1940’s and the musical score and soundtrack further cement the game as a classic.
Now with GTA V just days away from being released, it will be interesting to see how much the former Rockstar games are integrated into the newest one. Will we see the MotionScan technology used again or will that be saved for the next-gen videogame systems? We’ll soon know.