LA Noire is a game like no other: where previous Rockstar games have stuck to tried and tested sandbox shooter mechanics, this Team Bondi developed thriller takes an entirely different approach, making you use your noggin rather than your trigger finger.
Our full review is coming very soon, but in the meantime, we thought we’d round up everything you need to know about the game and its development right here. Read on for the lowdown!
The crime scene
LA Noire is set in the sun scorched city of angels, shortly after the war. It’s a time when plenty of returning GIs(protagonist detective Cole Phelps included) are trying to readjust to civilian life – some, by taking those of others. Team Bondi have drawn heavily from pulp fiction, film noir and crime fiction, and even references real world cases, such as that of the Black Dahlia murder.
It’s much more Roman Polanski’s Chinatown than it is GTA: Chinatown Wars: as such, you’re tasked with investigating crime scenes at a slow, methodical pace, and interrogating suspects more often than you are jumping out of helicopters with a tank, or shooting riot squad police in the face.
Read our LA Noire preview now
For a better sense of how the gameplay of LA Noire pans out, check out the behind-the-scenes video below.
Your stock in trade isn’t your sidearm, rather, it’s your notebook. As you explore a crime scene (guided by audio clues), you’ll discover objects and evidence that help piece together just what exactly went down. The importance of everything you find isn’t immediate, so you’ll find yourself returning to your trusty pad (automatically filled out for each clue you find) to remind yourself, or to refute a claim from a suspect much later on in a case.
As such, “game over” rarely happens in the traditional sense. Shooting a suspect or falling off building will cause you to fail the case and restart at the last check point, but getting questions wrong (say, accusing or doubting a witness when he or she is telling the truth) can lead to branches in the gameplay. You’ll then be lead to point B via C, rather than heading there straight from point A. And yet from our hands on time with the game, it still seems like it should be throughly absorbing to untangle.
Mesmerising Motion Scan
RockStar games have never been known for stunning visuals rather than size, majesty and invention, but LA Noire looks like the game to change that. The PS3 early code we’ve been shown looks stunning, with long draw distances and heat haze on the tarmac, just as you’d expect in a city built on a desert. But more crucially, the characters and their facial expressions are wonderfully realised, thanks to an Australian company, Depth Analysis’ new technology, Motion Scan.
As you can see in the clip above, the tech puts a real focus on every tic and nuance of an individual actor’s mug, and it’s vital in a game so reliant on interrogation. It could even prove to be the future of games if other developers license it. Whether it has any use in Halo 7: Generic Alien Shooter Returns and Modern Black Ops: Combat In Space remains to be seen, but it’s telling that we instantly recognised the actor playing Phelps – Mad Men’s Aaron Staton.
When is it out?
LA Noire is out in shops in the UK this Friday, 20 May. It’s available on both Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 – unusually, the PS3 version features an extra case, though it is unlikely to be crucial to the core storyline. As with last year’s Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar is not currently planning a PC port.