Hello Friends and Known Associates! The Feedbag comes back from last week's work inservice induced hiatus to use the Wayback Machine and travel to 1947 Los Angeles with LA Noire.
In this latest Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 offering from Rockstar Games (the creators of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption), Aaron (Mad Men) Staton stars (and yes, I do mean stars, more on this later) as Cole Phelps, a WWII Marine veteran who joins the Los Angeles Police Department upon his return from the war in an effort to continue to serve his country. When you first begin the game, Phelps is a regular beat cop, but eventually rises through the ranks to become a detective on the Traffic, Arson, Vice and Homicide desks. Throughout his time with the LAPD, Phelps gets to see the sunny future of a booming post-WWII LA as well as the seamy underside that exists underneath the surface. Drawing from sources like James Ellroy's LA Confidential, Rockstar Games and Team Bondi create a fully formed universe for these characters to live and breathe in.
In previous Rockstar games like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Bully, the player character was an outlaw, going and doing whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. With an LAPD detective as the player character, the options are much more limited. There is no free roam mode while working through the main story, with the focus on investigating crime scenes for clues and interrogating witnesses and various people of interest in the cases that Phelps is working. The interrogations work on a system where the player has to determine whether the subject is telling the truth or lying, but you can only successfully make an accusation of lying if you have the right piece of evidence marked in Phelps' casebook to prove it.
As I mentioned, Aaron Staton stars as Cole Phelps. This is possible through a new motion capture technology called MotionScan, using 32 high definition cameras to capture the actor's facial performance and provide a more natural performance from the characters in the game in addition to the always outstanding voice work that Rockstar provides. Video game website Eurogamer was kind enough to track down screenshots of the characters in the game and provide side by side pictures of the real life actors that provided the performance.
LA Noire provides a new step forward in both technology and gameplay for video gaming. The technology allows for more realism in the performance, while the gameplay gets the player to critically think through the case that they are handling to make the right interrogation choices. If you're a fan of Rockstar's previous games or 1940s pulp stories, I can't possibly recommend this game enough.
A couple of movie style trailers for LA Noire:
And a promo video explaining the motion capture technology:
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