Game Scoop! Presents: The LA Noire Podcast

Posted on March 04, 2011

Ready to be briefed on Rockstar’s upcoming crime drama?





Go to Source (IGN.com)

Exclusive Bonus Content for Pre-Ordering L.A. Noire Revealed

Posted on February 27, 2011

 

Rockstar’s forthcoming crime thriller gaming experience, L.A. Noire, is scheduled to have gamers on the trail of a serial killer starting May 17 on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Today Rockstar unveiled a slew of pre-order retail store specific exclusive DLC goodies that ranges from in-game unlockable crime cases, suits and challenges to an official LA Noire t-shirt that you can wear proudly on a blind date.

Here’s a rundown of which DLC each retailer is offering:

read more (Shogun Gamer)

L.A. Noire pre-order bonuses announced (L.A. Noire)

Posted on February 27, 2011

Earlier today, Rockstar announced a hefty collection of L.A. Noire pre-order bonuses, which include unlockable outfits and additional cases to solve. According to the press release, the bonuses are “limited in quantity and available while supplies last.” That makes sense for Target’s offer – a $5 Gift Card or free Rockstar Games T-Shirt – but we’re not sure how much warehouse space the DLC codes are taking up. Huh…

Go to Source (GamesRadar)

The Future of Action / Adventure Games: Looking Forward At L.A. Noire, Uncharted 3, The Last Guardian and More

Posted on December 29, 2010

The Future of Action / Adventure Games: Looking Forward At Bioshock: Infinite, L.A. Noire, The Last Guardian And More

We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er … October, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking forward to 2011. We’ve updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here’s what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.

Real-life rarely presents us with either action or adventure, and when it does, we almost always regret it. Only truly crazy people like BASE jumpers and firefighters actually seek out excitement; the competing values of safety and sitting-in-a-chair are usually a lot less trouble, and you don’t get so messy. But still, something in the human heart yearns to experience moments of pure exhilaration during our dreary march to the grave. No amount of vicodin can squash Man’s eternal desire to discover new vistas, do the impossible, and jump very, very high; that’s where action-adventure video games come in. Plus, you don’t have to wear pants.

Like all modern video game genres, there’s no strict definition of “Action Adventure.” Games like Bioshock: Infinite lean toward shooter, where something like inFamous 2, with its moral choices and power-up skill trees, is practically an RPG. Gameplay-wise, upcoming action-adventure games run the stylistic gamut as well – inFamous 2, with its colorful, over-the-top hero, wall-climbing and lightning shooting action, and comic book morality will play entirely differently from the deliberate investigation at the heart of L.A. Noire, but all these games hold something in common.

Each of the high-profile action adventure games in the list below creates a truly unique, fantastic world in which danger, excitement and even love are around every corner. Each game on our list presents its world in fantastic detail, and most involves settings which we’ve never seen before in video games. This is a complex, mature suites of games – the action-adventure genre is quickly becoming home to the most thoughtful of gaming content, whether it’s the bleak, morally tortuous world of 1940s noir movies gamers will find in L.A. Noire, the childlike wish-fulfillment promised by Team Ico’s The Last Guardian, or the fantastically realized floating city of Bioshock: Infinite, truly the action adventure games listed below will give us all something to do when there’s nothing good on television.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Release Date: November 1 2011

In a move that shocked nobody, Naughty Dog finally revealed that yes, there will indeed be a third installment in the Uncharted franchise. It wasn’t shocking because the second game in the series sold like 48 bajillion copies, and they’re also working on a big budget movie featuring *shudder* Mark Wahlberg as Marky Mark. While we can’t get behind that decision, we can definitely support Uncharted 3 wholeheartedly.

Early gameplay videos and word from Naughty Dog are than Drake won’t be hiding out in lush jungles and exploring tropical caves this time around. Now he’s going to be out in the middle of the desert, providing new and different challenges for the development team. It’s also meant to be a bit of a bromance between Drake and Sully, providing ample opportunities (we hope) for some renegade adventures between the duo, who play a bit like Laurel and Hardy with guns. We don’t know a lot about the game yet, and it’s just under a year away from release, but Uncharted 2 represented one of the most powerful storytelling experiences we’d ever had in a video game, and if Naughty Dog can harness that again, they’ll give us a perfect hat trick of awesome games for the PS3.

My prediction? The movie will tank, the game will sell 50 bajillion copies this time around, and Sony will put out some lavish Uncharted Trilogy mega edition which will be hand-delivered to your home by Nolan North. I can dream, can’t I?

Prototype 2

Release Date: TBA 2012

Protoype was unfortunately one of the last games that most people would have put on their “needs a sequel” list, and I say unfortunately because I actually really enjoyed Prototype. However, the game came out around the same time as inFamous (which was a better game), and sort of got buried as a result, despite being on multiple platforms. But it was a lot of fun to play, and it is definitely worth picking up if you haven’t sunk your teeth into it you. You play as Alex Mercer, a man who gains bizarre powers due to a virus, and over the course of the game you become incredibly powerful as you learn how to use your skills with Barry Pepper doing awesome voiceover duty as the voice of Alex.

Prototype 2 will tell a different story, following an angry sergeant who finds out that Mercer was responsible for the death of all of his loved ones. He deliberately obtains a sample of the virus and infects himself, gaining powers that are very similar to Mercer’s. Of course, he uses these to go on a rampage of death and destruction, because this game definitely isn’t about playing nice with each other.

Do yourself a favor and pop in some Prototype gameplay to see how exciting it can be to pound your way through New York City proper. Yes, the superpowers you get are freakish, but who said that saving people was going to look pretty? And with the new protagonist out for revenge, here’s hoping we can more brutal kills this time around.

The Last Guardian

Release Date: TBA Q4 2011

When game industry know-it-alls defend gaming as an art form, the name Fumito Ueda always comes up. His Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are widely regard as the best gaming has to offer, high water marks in terms of creativity and artistic impact, and The Last Guardian promises to expand on his body of work thematically, artistically and in terms of gameplay.

On a nuts and bolts level, The Last Guardian is a third-person perspective game that combines action-adventure and puzzle elements, and involves running, jumping, climbing and other moves that will be familiar to anyone who has played Ico or Colossus. These classic, well-worn gameplay elements are employed here as a means to tell the story of the boy and Trico, a huge beast the unnamed main character befriends. Trico’s name, in Japanese, can be taken to mean “prisoner,”  “baby bird” or a combination of “bird” and “cat.” The cooperation between Trico and the boy make up the bulk of the gameplay. Players will be tasked with feeding and caring for their new pet, basically nursing the “bird cat” back to health.

The interaction between the boy and Trico has been described by Ueda as a rock-paper-scissor style interplay, where sometimes Trico’s powers will be used to protect the boy and sometimes vice-versa. The ultimate goal, of course, is to foster an emotional connection between the player and his “pet.” This is pure speculation, but when Trico finally flies, I predict there won’t be a dry-eye in gaming land.

If the gameplay footage included in this game’s trailers is any indication, it will play like Ico meets Shadow of the Colossus, but a potential pitfall could come from the complication of syncronizing the actions of two characters at once. I’m expecting the story to be totally in place and emotionally affecting…but will it be fun? Time, as they say, will tell.

Defining Feature: Heart. Unless you truly have no feelings, this game will fill you with longing and make you cry.

LA Noire

Release Date: TBA Q2 2011

L.A. Noire, an open-world action game, takes place in “a perfectly re-created Los Angeles” of the late 1940s, with players tasked with solving a spate of murders. Players take on the role of Cole Phelps, a cop working his way up through the post-war LAPD. The gameplay centers on investigation over violence, with Phelps compiling detailed dossiers on suspects in murder cases. Obviously one of the most important skills a detective possesses is the ability to read people, to tell if a perp is telling the truth, and to persuade him or her through the interrogation process. To re-create the sometimes subtle interactions between cops and criminals, Team Bondi, the game’s developer, advanced the art of motion capture to the point that the game will give would-be detectives the ability to watch suspects for subtle clues. The process uses 32 separate cameras to record actors doing their parts, basically creating a 3D film of every second of action with enough detail to make it all plausible.

Cool tech, though, is totally worthless without a compelling story, which is another area in which this game shines. You can tell from the title alone that L.A. Noire is heavily influenced by the Noir films of the 30s and 40s, movies that played in the gray areas of the urban experience, heavy on moral relativism, barely suppressed violence and sexuality, drugs, corruption and Jazz. In other words, the kind of rich, haunted setting perfect for the unique Rockstar vision established in the Grand Theft Auto series, and, for that matter, Bully. In keeping with the source material, L.A. Noire will feature moody, chiaroscuro visuals, heavy on deep shadows (courtesy of Darksprint’s real-time global illumination technology) and a unique, muted color pallet that’s as visually interesting as the game’s subject matter.

The game was originally revealed way back in 2007, slated for a 2008 release, and all available evidence seems to indicate the long development time is an attempt to get it perfect. We can only hope this game delivers on its massive promise.

You obviously can’t judge an entire game based on a single video of gameplay footage, but this one really blows me away. Everything I’ve heard has raised my expectations very high. Let’s hope it lives up to them.

Defining Feature: Rockstar’s open-world mastery combined with 1940s film noir equals ultimate gaming win.

XCOM

Release Date: TBA 2011

“Everything old is new again,” or as in the case of 2K’s 1960s-styled investigative shooter XCOM, everything old has been thrown out and rebuilt from the ground up to fit with the sensibilities of modern gamers. As someone who never played the original paranoia-driven strategy series, which is consistently listed among the greatest PC games ever, I wasn’t as taken aback when 2K officially unveiled its first-person RPG-shooter remake of the acclaimed franchise as many gamers were, but I can understand the reaction. However, 2K Marin has made it a point to assure fans of the original games that the game will put a heavy emphasis on strategy. So not only will players have multiple options in combat, but there will also be a variety of research options available, as well as mission types, all of which will help make each playthrough unique for each player. Style, strategic depth, and goopy alien life forms: what’s not to love?

Trying to please both hardcore fans of the original game, and newcomers to the franchise is a tricky proposition, fraught with danger. It can be done (Fallout 3), but it ain’t easy.

Defining Feature: Combining field research and character interaction to develop new ways to blast alien baddies to pieces.

inFamous 2

Release Date: TBA 2011

Much controversy erupted when it was revealed that the main character of inFamous, Cole McGrath, would sport a fully revamped and changed look in the sequel. Sucker Punch relented to the fans’ outcry and ended up incorporating elements of the “old” Cole into “new” Cole’s design. So far, there have been little complaints about the rest of the content of inFamous 2.

It takes place in different city, New Marais, a New Orleans-inspired metropolis beset by The Beast, a terrible new enemy.  Cole and his friend Zeke flee to New Marais and prepare for Cole’s encounter with The Beast while battling The Militia, a shadowy group led by a man named Bertrand. The Militia has taken over New Marais in an attempt to keep all superpowered or abnormal things away. Cole will combat the Militia, explore New Marais, and learn about himself, Kessler, and The First Sons along the way while gaining new abilities to confront the Beast.

InFamous 2 will feature improved cut-scenes, more believable reactions from New Marais residents, more destructible environment elements, and a new suite of powers for Cole. Along with the electrical abilities we’ve come to love from the first game, McGrath will be able to harness the power of Ice for a new suite of frozen-water powers.

The ethical system is back in inFamous 2, and this time will be even more robust, with Cole’s decisions affecting the entire city he lives in very important ways. Speaking of morality, if you meticulously played inFamous as either good or bad, there will be some effect on your character/environment in inFamous 2, although how this will work hasn’t been revealed.

Sometimes, “more of the same” is the best thing in the world, and that’s what you should expect to get from inFamous 2 — if you liked inFamous, you’ll almost certainly like this sequel.

Defining Feature: Free-roam super-heroics and electricity attacks.

Batman: Arkham City

Release Date: TBA Q3 2011

Like its predecessor, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City is an action game that incorporates elements of stealth, and a variety of The Dark Knight’s famous gadgets and deadly gimcracks. Also returning, a full stable of Batman’s notorious villains. So far, The Joker, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Talia al Ghul, Two-Face and Calendar Man are all expected to show up to bedevil Bats.

Arkham City refers to a section of Gotham which newly elected mayor Quincy Sharp has ordained as “no man’s land.” Sharp takes all the citiy’s various criminals and locks them in a slum, with no supervision. The rest of Gotham is kept safe by armed guards who patrol the perimeter. When Two-Face brings Catwoman into Arkham City with the intention of murdering her, Batman is forced to swing into action, save the day and crack some skulls along the way.

If all of that sounds dark to you, you’re on the right track. Arkham Asylum promises to up the bleakness and blackness of Batman’s universe in ways we can’t wait to experience. Tonally, the game has been compared to the animated, straight to DVD film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, a notoriously dark entry in the Batman canon.

Gameplay wise, AC seems to be following the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” with stealth and investigation taking the forefront. Although there is one notable improvement planned from the first game.  “Detective Mode” has been changed, and will now be more of an “augmented reality mode,” (in the words of Rocksteady art director David Hugo) which will work slightly differently, in that players won’t be able to just leave it on and complete the game without experieing “normal vision.”

Another big difference from Batman: Akham Asylum, there will be come kind of multiplayer in the game. It hasn’t been revealed if this is co-op gameplay or competitive, however.

Along with new abilities for old devices, Arkham City will feature new gadgets, including smoke bombs which Batman can use and sneak away in the confusion, and a broadcast tracer used to track signals to their source.

Like inFamous 2, this seems like more of a refinement than a bold new direction for the series, so your opinion will most likely depend on how much you liked the original Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Defining Feature: Batman, the most badass of all super-heroes, returns.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Release Date: TBA 2011

Skyward Sword finds Link in Skyloft, a group of islands floating above the clouds. He discovers the Skyward Sword of the title, which leads him to a previously unknown land ruled by evil forces. Link will travel between the two worlds using the sword, and adventure will no doubt ensue.

Since Ocarina of Time, Zelda games have been the comfort food of video games, dependable, nutritious, and never all that spicy. It looks like the next installment of the franchise will continue the trend, with its cartoonish graphics and combination of overland, outdoor exploration and dungeon crawling, but there is one, potentially huge innovation: Motion control. While the last Zelda game allowed use of the Wiimote, it wasn’t really built for Nintendo’s flagship machine, and the controls felt tacked on. This new Zelda promises from-the-ground-up, one-to-one motion controls, allowing Link to weild his sword, pluck his bow and throw his boomerang with a true-to-life feel. He’ll also be swinging a whip and have a mechanical beetle as a helper.

You know what to expect from a Zelda game, almost beat-by-beat. The only wild card here is the motion control, a seemingly simple addition to the series, that could easily sink the experience. Judging from the demo video, it looks fairly easy to fight in the game, but imagine swinging your arms around for the 20-plus hours it will take to finish this one. Once a game makes you physically tired,  how many clay pots will you break before you play something else?

Defining Feature: Link’s adventures will be enlivened by full, one-to-one motion control.

Alice: Madness Returns

Release Date: TBA 2011

It’s been more than a decade since American McGee’s Alice hit PCs and redefined both Alice in Wonderland and what gamers can expect from an action-adventure title.  The sequel will have new arrows is its psychological quiver. McGee will be able to expand on his vision with the graphical power and brute force of current gen consoles, and expand Alice’s internal world to heretofore unknown levels.

Madness Returns takes place eleven years after the events of Alice — exactly as long as the lag between the two games — and finds the titular character released from the Asylum and under the care of a psychiatrist in London. Alice is still traumatized by the death of her family, and is suffering from hallucinations (?) that embody her internal pain. She returns to Wonderland seeking solace from her real-life problems, but finds that the imaginary realm itself is in danger. She must fight to save the residents of Wonderland from a great and terrible evil.

According to visionary McGee, Alice Returns will focus on these things: Really good story, solid third-person platforming gameplay, adventure, action, exploration and puzzle solving, all presented in a context that explores and demonstrates the process of going mad in great, glossy detail. Want.

The idea of this game is amazing, as is the pedigree of its creator, but translating those ideas into compelling gameplay, especially in a game that’s basically a platformer, will be tricky. Gaming has grown a lot in the last ten years; let’s hope Alice has too.

Defining Feature: Re-mixing Lewis Carroll’s classic tale into a dark psychological journey is guaranteed to bring us gothy joy.

Bioshock: Infinite

Release Date: TBA 2012

Judging from the video footage released and the history of the franchise, Infinite is looking more like a step forward for the entire art form and less like “just” a fantastic game. Ken Levine, the creator of the original Bioshock, returns to the franchise with this just-barely-a-sequel. The game takes place in the city of Columbia, which floats in the sky  as opposed to being sunken beneath the sea like Bioshock 1 and 2′s Rapture.

Set in 1912, during the tumultuous beginning of both the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the United States as a world super-power, Infinite puts you in the skin  of Booker DeWitt, a disgraced former member of the famous Pinkerton detectives. You’ll fight through the various levels of Columbia’s steampunk-style failed-Utopia, with your sidekick, a psychic named Elizabeth, battling the crazed residents of the city, and the kind of over-sized, steampunk robots you’d expect from a Bioshock game. Bioshock‘s tonics and plasmids have been replaced by vigors and nostrums, and the game will feature a system of rails allowing travel through the air, which are described as “roller coasters on top of roller coasters on top of roller coasters,” so the trappings have changed, but Levine is adamant that this is truly a Bioshock game.

The surface similarities are on display: The atmospheric immersion, the combat that uses a combination of super-powers and bullets, but perhaps more importantly, Infinite retains the most unique aspect of the Bioshock universe: Use of a game as a serious means of examining philosophical and political issues. Where Bioshock is a critique of Randian  laissez faireCapitalism, Infinite’s emerging themes include commentary on dawn of the Industrial revolution, the rise of  American exceptionalism, xenophobia, and  jingoism leading to mass horror. Plus, you use mind bullets to fight gigantic, steam-powered robots.

The only thing that’s not awesome about Bioshock: Infinite is the release date. It’s not set to hit consoles until 2012. That’s a long way out, so it’s hard to tell how close the finished game will look to the first gameplay footage released, but the video looks highly choreograhed, full of set pieces and what almost look like cut-scenes, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the gameplay feels as scripted.

Defining Feature: Epic fever visions from Ken Levine, a true gaming genius.

Honorable Mentions: We’re really looking forward to the following games, but there isn’t enough hard information to really tell you much: The Agent (Rockstar’s examination of Cold War espionage),  Max Payne 3, promises an older, more mature titular character, and Grand Theft Auto 5 – which was not announced, but we’re sure it’s in the works.

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Go to Source (G4TV.com)

L.A. Noire Trailer Reveals the Marriage Between Technology and Performance

Posted on December 17, 2010

In the latest trailer for Rockstar’s upcoming detective title, L.A. Noire, we’re given a behind-the-scenes look at the facial tracking tech powering the performance of the actors involved with the title.

If you were to track our expression after seeing the tech in action, our digital clones would be mouth agape.

Shackvideo users can use the HD Stream.

Hopefully the rest of the game has been given the same kind of care and attention. L.A. Noire is launching in the “first half” of 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

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Go to Source (ShackNews)

Video Preview: L.A. Noire

Posted on December 08, 2010

We dissect the newest trailer of L.A. Noire and go over story, gameplay, and state of the art motion scan technology in RockStar’s newest crime thriller set in the 1940’s.

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Go to Source (GamePro)

New L.A. Noire screens show more detective work and crime

Posted on December 07, 2010
L.A. Noire is looking quite nice in these new screenshots.

After a few false starts, L.A. Noire has finally been given a firm relate date of Spring 2011 on the PS3 and Xbox 360.  We still may be a few months away from playing Team Bondi’s crime noir epic, but Rockstar has slowly begun to churn the wheels of hype with a new media release.

L.A. Noire – December screens

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read more (Shogun Gamer)

Daily Filter: November 19, 2010

Posted on November 20, 2010

Shacknews receives a slew of new screenshots and trailers for upcoming games everyday. The most anticipated titles receive their own post, because we know you’re eager to see that content. For the rest, we have the Daily Filter, a place to feature all of the media we add to our enormous database on a daily basis.

It’s the last Filter of the week! Today we’ve added new media for L.A. Noire, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Homefront, He…

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Go to Source (ShackNews)

Another Look Into The Seedy World of L.A. Noire

Posted on November 19, 2010

Our cover story on L.A. Noire gave the world its first real look into Rockstar and Team Bondi’s L.A. Noire. As the writer, I got to see both the game (in demo form) and the groundbreaking facial capture technology that Team Bondi created to make it. I came back from my trip excited about the game, and I hope that the finished product can live up to the very high bar that Rockstar and Team Bondi have set. Recently, we were able to get another look at the game; Rockstar brought by a brand-new live gameplay demo that showed off another mission in the career of LAPD detective Cole Phelps.

This case occurs during Phelp’s stint on the traffic desk – but it’s a more sordid tale than a mere speeding ticket. It starts with Phelps and his partner Stephen Bukowski getting a call to investigate a car crash. Two women, actresses June Ballard and Jessica Hamilton, have apparently driven their car off an embankment and into a soda-pop billboard. Things get a little more interesting when Phelps arrives at the scene to interview Ballard, who claims they were drugged and put in the car as a set-up.

From here, this seemingly open and shut case drags Ballard into the seedy underbelly of 1940s Hollywood. Ballard, a veteran b-movie actress and moll to mobster Guy McAfee, appears unreliable. She’s intent on fingering producer Mark Bishop for the crime, but then warns Phelps to let her and her husband “settle the score.” She’s clearly shifty, but Phelps knows there’s definitely more to this story when he finds an unsettling piece of evidence on the scene: a torn pair of women’s underwear. A fellow detective also shows him a fake shrunken head, presumably stolen from a movie set, that was used to wedge down the car’s gas pedal.

From there, Phelps goes to interview the other passenger, Jessica Hamilton, at the hospital. Her doctor informs him that there is evidence that Hamilton was drugged and possibly sexually assaulted. Speaking with Hamilton, it’s clear that she’s a naïve girl who wants a break into acting so badly that she’s easy prey for the predators that populate the movie industry. While she has little memory of what happened and is scared to talk, Cole cajoles some information out of her. It’s interesting to see how the player has to judge the character of each witness. Here, Phelps takes a much softer approach than he did with June Ballard, perhaps sensing Hamilton’s fragile makeup.

Throughout the case, Phelps makes constant notes of clues – bits of interviews, objects in the environment, photographs, letters, and more. Each clue will open up more lines of questioning during your interviews, so it’s wise to gather as much information as possible. You’ll frequently have to use documented clues and facts to contradict a witness who is lying.

After interrogating Hamilton, the case takes a turn into dark territory. First, Phelps does a tail mission on June Ballard, who makes a call at a diner telling her husband to “take care” of Bishop. After Ballard gives up Bishop’s address, Phelps arrives at the producer’s apartment just in time to get in a fight with some Mafia thugs who are presumably there to rub out the producer. After dispatching the goons and interviewing Bishop’s wife, Gloria, a sinister picture appears to take shape: Bishop is somehow involved in a ring that takes aspiring young actresses and makes them sexual prey for depraved Hollywood types.

While we won’t spoil the solution to the case, suffice it to say that this game might feature some of Rockstar’s grittiest content ever. However, before you accuse them of being shock merchants, consider the fact that every case in the game is actually pulled from the newspapers of 1940s Los Angeles. This stuff really happened; it’s just been adapted and slightly altered for the game (most of the time this involved writing endings for unsolved cases). In addition, we got a few hints of the game’s larger, overarching plots, which seem to center around Phelps’ struggles to combat the internal corruption that plagued the LAPD during this time in history. At one point, Phelps has an interaction with a vice cop that suggests the lines between cop and criminal in L.A. are very blurry indeed.

This case also gave us a better window into the game’s pacing. While it’s important to note that this is not GTA in period drag – expect to spend a lot more time in tense conversation than in gunfights – Team Bondi does seem to do a good job of injecting action sequences at logical points in the story. During the mission we witnessed the brawl in Bishop’s apartment, the tail mission, and a car chase – plus a fairly elaborate gun battle.

However, the real meat of the L.A. Noire experience comes from the investigations. Once again, the character animation (accomplished through Team Bondi’s groundbreaking camera-based facial capture system) looks as good as anything we’ve seen in a game. It needs to be; with so much emphasis placed on the interrogations, it’s the true-to-life expressions that allow you to really feel invested in the experience.

L.A. Noire is a risky proposition for Rockstar. While the painstaking recreation of 1947 Los Angeles is as richly detailed as any of the open world environments the company has envisioned, this game has a distinct, deliberate pace that’s quite different from anything else it’s done in the past. Based on what we’ve seen so far, L.A. Noire has the potential to be something very special. Will Rockstar’s audience be ready to embrace it?

For more on L.A. Noire, check out our cover story for the game, and watch the latest trailer.

[All screens from the PS3 version of the game]

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Go to Source (Game Informer)

L.A. Noire – First Trailer

Posted on November 12, 2010

Meet the steely gumshoes that inhabit the sordid city in Rockstar and Team Bondi’s highly anticipated crime drama, L.A. Noire.


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Go to Source (Game Pro)

L.A. Noire premier trailer now available and it looks amazing

Posted on November 12, 2010
We finally see what L.A. Noire looks like in motion and the verdict is good.

Being the avid gamer that I am, I like to closely follow particular video game projects during development to see how they improve and change leading up to the final product. Ever since I heard about L.A. Noire five years ago my interest was definitely piqued.  Coming to us from Brendan McNamara (lead designer on The Getaway) and his newly formed studio Team Bondi, L.A.

read more (Shogun Gamer)

Rockstar Resets The Bar With Its Upcoming Crime Thriller

Posted on November 12, 2010

Rockstar just released the first trailer for its upcoming title L.A. Noire, which we revealed back in our March cover story. If you missed seeing it before, we’re running the feature here in its entirety. Check it out to learn more about the setting, characters, and the mind-boggling technology that developer Team Bondi is putting to use.

Ambition.

No word better describes Rockstar Games. In the nine years since the release of its open-world crime epic Grand Theft Auto III, which stands among the most influential and successful games ever released, the company has used its GTA war chest in pursuit of games that few other companies in the industry would even attempt. From the brutal, violent stealth of the controversial Manhunt to the charming comic mischief of Bully, Rockstar continually digs deep into the history of pop culture and film for inspirations beyond the usual fantasy, military, and sci-fi clichés that fuel much of the industry’s output.

Despite courting controversy both outside the industry and within, it’s hard to argue with the results. The company’s games have exhibited enormous scope and unparalleled production values. When Rockstar offers you a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look into what they call their most ambitious title to date, you say yes.

Though L.A. Noire’s existence has been known for several years, facts about this title have been as hard to find as clues to the seedy murders that L.A. Noire’s protagonist, Cole Phelps, unravels throughout the course of the game. After seeing the game and the development process in action, it’s clear why the publisher has been so secretive. Team Bondi, the studio behind L.A. Noire, has set the bar almost impossibly high with this game. It’s not only creating the largest, most detailed open-world game to date, it’s attempting to resurrect the long-lost Los Angeles of the 1940s while adding an engaging new adventure-style investigation system to the familiar drive-and-shoot gameplay model. Oh, and along the way the company is pioneering some groundbreaking new technology that it hopes will forever change the way video games are made.

Filming Noir

Walking into a nondescript building in Los Angeles, I’m introduced to Team Bondi’s game director Brendan McNamara, who is wearing a headset microphone and quietly overseeing a buzzing scene that more resembles a Hollywood film production than a game studio. The soft-spoken Australian seems fairly relaxed considering his team is entering crunch time on his first major project since he shipped the PS2 gangster hit The Getaway in 2002. Numerous Rockstar and Team Bondi staffers are scuttling around, shuffling between the various rooms in the spartan warehouse facility.

In one room, Australian actress Erika Heynatz (famous as the original host of Australia’s Next Top Model) is sitting down for hair and makeup in a room filled with mirrors and hair dryers. Her hair is meticulously coifed into tight, elaborate buns and covered with a hairnet in the classic ‘40s style.

After some introductions, McNamara takes us to the heart of the operation: a soundproofed white room that feels like a lost set from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Heynatz sits in a chair as makeup artists make last minute adjustments to her hair and cosmetics. Surrounding her is complex scaffolding equipped with 32 stereo-matched cameras and assorted microphones that will capture her image from every possible angle.

Once up and running, the actor interacts with the director through a monitor posted directly in front of her head, getting the crucial line prompts and feedback on the performance. Once completed, every detail of the performance – dialogue, expression, eye movement, even makeup details like black eyes or burns – are directly pipelined into the game with no involvement from animators. In this way, L.A. Noire represents a total break with conventional game development and animation. Instead of recording dialogue, animating, and performing motion capture as separate steps of the process, Team Bondi (using technology developed by its sister company Depth Analysis) is capturing human performances just as a filmmaker would – except instead of generating movie footage, they come away with fully animated 3D models.

It’s a tremendously advanced process – Depth Analysis’ Oliver Bao, head of research and development, reveals that the company’s Australian facility is equipped to store 200 terabytes of capture data – but one that allows them to work more quickly than with traditional hand-animation techniques. “That’s the great thing about this system, there’s very little human interaction,” Bao observes. “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  – I don’t even have character artists or animators working with me.”

For McNamara, it’s perhaps the most crucial aspect of L.A. Noire, because the game features an unprecedented volume of spoken lines, encompassing a script of around 2,000 pages. To put it in perspective, the average hour-long television show has about 50 pages, and a longer feature film’s script would be 200 (approximately one page per minute of running time). With these new tools, Team Bondi can produce results that are both faster and vastly improved over games of the past.
“We hadn’t had really good results with motion capture, using facial markers and all that,” McNamara recalls. “I’d been doing some research in the U.K. for a number of years on how you could do capture without markers. What we wanted to do was capture the exterior of people instead of the bones. What we have here is the final end of that process, where you put an actor in the chair and as we record it’s instantly turned into 3D. We think it’s pretty significant. The great thing about that is we think that the whole uncanny valley thing is out the window, because you can see people in the game and literally lip-read what they say.”

Seeing side-by-side comparisons of the actors with their in-game likenesses, it’s clear McNamara’s technical team (staffed mostly by Team Bondi’s sister company Depth Analysis) is treading new ground in terms of facial animation in games. At first, it’s almost eerie. From hair to the slightest raise of an eyebrow, the facial models are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. “The actors are weirded out at first – everyone’s used to seeing themselves in 2D,” McNamara reveals.
Since the physical performance and dialogue reading are done at the same time, lip synching problems are non-existent, allowing the player to finally react to the characters as real actors in a way that even games like Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect haven’t achieved.

“Even the [games] I look at now that are great, there’s something about [the characters] that makes me think of a goldfish,” McNamara comments. “You have a million years of evolution that tells you how to read faces, so you just have to see one thing and it throws you off. With this game, it’s a line in the sand – before and after. That’s what it feels like to me. We used to do that; now we do this. In the end, we want you to interact with this and you don’t even ask the question ‘Is this real or not?’”

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Go to Source (Game Informer)


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