Mar 15, 2011

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Preview: Hands-off With L.A. Noire

Preview: Hands-off With L.A. Noire

Day three of PAX afforded me the opportunity to play some more really cool games and sit-in on a live demonstration of Rockstar’s much anticipated L.A. Noire.

As I have mentioned in posts-past, my intention was to head to Rockstar’s L.A. Noire booth first and see what the hype was about.  Taken into the booth, roughly 15 people were seated in a black room with a Samsung television, a Playstation 3 and three Rockstar employees to ensure there was no photography or video.  Viewers were about to be treated to a 30 minute live gameplay demo.

The case they demoed for us was the earliest within the game called “The Lipstick Murderer.” The player is sent to a crime scene where a dead woman lay naked, with blunt force trauma to the head.  The player searches for clues around the crime scene in an attempt to find a lead, so you have a place to start your questioning.  Discovering more clues at the scene aids you later in the game when pressing suspects into giving you truthful information about what they know regarding the crime.

After asking the suspect a question, the camera focuses on his face and you look for clues within his facial expression to tell if he is lying or telling the truth.  A menu also appears in the top-left hand corner of the screen with the options: truth, doubtful, and lie. The player must then decide, using the suspect’s facial expression as well as the clues gathered, to determine if the he is telling the truth.  The Rockstar team warned players to be careful before calling someone a liar, and to make sure that the player has evidence to back up their accusation.  Pressing for answers at the wrong time can result in not obtaining the information needed to crack the case.   At the end of questioning, the game tells players how many times they were successful in finding out truthful information.  Each lead will take you to a different location and at each location you should look for clues and question suspects.

The first thing I noticed as soon as the gameplay started was how good the game looked.  I know it might come as a shock to some, but Rockstar games do not always look the best.  However, it is clear they took it up a notch with L.A. Noire. The textures were bright and the environments looked great.  The actual gameplay looked better than the cutscenes used to piece it together.  There did not appear to be any texture pop-in, something that does not usually take away from the gameplay, but it can affect games to varying degrees (think Enslaved).  They did not mention how old of a build they were using for the demo, and since the booth I was in was showing it on Playstation 3, there is no way for me to tell if there was any difference between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.  My guess is that there is not and either way, L.A. Noire is shaping up to be a real beauty.

There were still a few bugs in the game that were noticeable, like attempting to get into cars and the animation stopping briefly.  For a second I thought the game had frozen.  Luckily, it picked right back up and we drove to the next location. The fighting scenes also seem a little clunky.  More clunky than Grand Theft Auto 3.  Since they have not mentioned the game going gold yet, there is still plenty of time to smooth out these animations.

L.A. Noire won me over. The story seems like it will be compelling enough to keep gamers interested, and will probably seem like gamers are watching, while also playing, a really good movie.  Hopefully Rockstar will let this game live up to the hype. From what I have seen, we might be playing the Game of The Year as early as May.

Look for L.A. Noire on store shelves May 17, 2011 for PS3 and Xbox 360.