February 24, 2010

Omnibus - L.A. Noire

In returning to sharing my favorite news articles, I am putting up a series of omnibus posts compiling some awesome and relevant information reported in the past coupla weeks pertaining to some big games (i.e. my favorites!).

We begin with my newest entry into the fold, L.A. Noire.

Click below to find some links about how cool the game is going to be, as well as some new screenshots!

Finally I was able to sit and read my March GameInformer with L.A. Noire as it's cover story.  The two major developers involved, Rockstar and Team Bondi, are doing one heckuva job at creating a realistic representation of basically life altogether, both in human terms and in 1947 Los Angeles terms.

Since this is a "period piece," accuracy is essential and according to the article "over 180,000 photographs from period newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, The Herald Examiner, and The Daily News" were consulted and used to actually recreate what the real city looked like in 1947 (47).  That's incredible!  Making the past come to life extends to "long torn-down L.A. landmarks to everyday details like how people dressed and how much food cost at local diners" (47).  Even still are the inclusions of streets that don't exist anymore, since this is a time and place sans freeways (which GameRadar's Justin Towell thinks is "kinda spooky.").  This isn't going to be a cookie-cutter city that Bondi and Rockstar are going to build with stereotypical 1940's era paraphernalia and name it Los Angeles.  No, this is going to be THE 1940s Los Angeles that once exisited, complete with actual shop signs, car designs, and even actual crimes that were committed (with names changed to protect the families and such).  I don't think it's a stretch to say that L.A. Noire is one of the biggest undertakings in video game history.

Not to be left out in that claim is Bondi's use of facial expressions and actors.  "Revolutionizing how we play video games" is not a far-off statement with Noire, and I'm sure someone other than me is going to say it.  Real-life actors are filmed in a soundproof room with "scaffolding equipped with 32 stereo-matched cameras and assorted microphones," technology that records instantly in 3D (46).  This eliminates hundreds if not thousands of hours of animating time.  The team responsible for this jump in animation is Depth Analysis.  Head of research and development Oliver Bao says, "Traditionally, one minute of facial animation could take a couple of animators a month.  The idea is that we can mass-produce.  We can produce about 20 minutes of final footage a day, and it's seamless" (46).  Add on 300 actors, a 2,000 page script, and reading characters' faces and twitches to see if they're lying during questioning and you have a truly mesmerizing real-life recreation that will certainly blur some lines (46, 47, 49).   
And how cool will it be to investigate a crime scene that doesn't help you out with shimmery objects of interest, but instead leaves gumshoeing to your own key observational skills (50)?  Yeah, that is going to happen.

There is no official street date, but a time frame of September.  Rest assured that once a date hits, you'll see a countdown timer on JASON 3:60.

And thankfully to me, this is an action/adventure game, not simply Grand Theft Auto set in 1947 (as described by GamesRadar below, and page 50 of the issue).

Other links to general L.A. Noire articles:

GamesRadar's "10 Things You Didn't Know About L.A. Noire."  I'll say that GamesRadar usually has a bunch of language and other "iffy" things on their site, so tread carefully.  I don't promote their vulgarity, but their insight and usual video game humor is spot on.  There are even more details that I haven't mentioned above, so read it while treading carefully.

1Up's "New L.A. Noire Details Emerge"

IGN's "L.A. Noire Revealed"

Scattered throughout this post are some of the latest screens, ironically not in the magazine itself, but I don't want to risk scanning and going against copyright laws and stuff.

The article that accompanies the pictures can be found here.

So what do you think?  Case closed on a surefire hit, or will it swim with the fishes?  Comment below!

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