L.A Noire gameplay trailer: Dissected
10th Feb 2011 | 11:58
The latest box of L.A Noire evidence has just been dumped on our desk - in the form of Rockstar's rather astonishing gameplay trailer.
This time, we get our first look at how the game's core mechanics work.
We should warn you that we have taken some stills of Cole's notebook, containing clue details and the likes.
Obviously the point of Team Bondi's game is to unravel mysteries, so while we don't think Rockstar would put any major spoilers in a trailer, if you want to enter Noire without the foggiest of what's going on, be careful what you read here. Otherwise, fill your boots with words, friend.
There are a number of key elements from what we can see; driving, shooting and punching (as you'd expect from Rockstar), as well as clue analysing and suspect interrogating.
Let's get the classic Rockstar bits out of the way first. It looks like our protagonist Cole Phelps will be starting the game as your average beat cop before working his way up to a pencil licking, Fedora tipping, trench-coat wearing detective. Personally we're hoping for lines like "I need someone who can get results!" and "I want Phelps on the case!" during the transition.
In the bottom left of the screen, you'll notice the classic Rockstar radar, made famous by GTA and used in Red Dead Redemption. It's handy during the trailer because we can use it to determine which sections of the video footage is player controlled. The fact it's not always clear is probably testament to the game.
This screenshot interests us, for example, because it's a player controlled section. It shows Cole turning up at a crime scene, but judging by the Police officers in the background there's already a fair bit going on. In Rockstar games, we've never really seen that much activity of this kind before; where something content specific is going on before the player interacts with it; missions are usually activated by approaching a door, for example. Perhaps this is a side-quest similar to coming across a Cougar attack in Red Dead?
Just as a side-note; judging the angle of that lamp-post and what follows a few frames later in the trailer, it looks like a car crash of some sort occurred here (maybe we're seeing the aftermath of a Police chase?) and that blue car on the radar looks like it could denote an ambulance or squad car.
On to the shooting and the punching and it's very GTA as well. A section of the trailer shows some fisticuffs which looks like the usual one-button combo fighting of other Rockstar games, although we doubt we'll be stamping on anyone while they're unconscious on the floor. Although it looks like finishing moves will be included this time with a press of circle, on PS3 at least.
As you'll see, we've also got the usual R2 blind fire from cover option but, interestingly, the trailer later shows that R2 is also used to run this time, which suggests there'll be no shooting after people as you chase them. It also looks like Cole will vault things automatically if instructions in the top left of the screen are anything to go by when he approaches a fence.
The really interesting stuff, however, comes when you start to uncover clues and interrogate people, since it's a departure from what we've seen from Rockstar in the past.
It looks like as you approach a body, bloody pipe or shifty dude, for example you'll zoom into first person to have a closer look and be presented with what you've discovered, whether it's evidence a new location to visit or a person of interest.
As the image above shows, the clues can be hiding away in seemingly insignificant details like a clothes label. We just hope the game doesn't do too much for us. Approaching a dead body is the obvious thing to do, looking for things like a label is where the detective work comes in and what will ultimately make us feel like grade A investigators. If we're given all the info we need as soon as we get to the obviously significant cold, battered woman, it might take something away from that.
Still, it's not clear how this kind of analysis works just yet, although this screen tells us that camera zoom and vibration will indicate points of interest.
When it comes to dealing with living people. It seems we'll be spending time following people, hiding behind newspapers (classic) and eves-dropping on conversations in real-time.
Interrogating, however, looks like it's based on either believing your witness/suspect's story, doubting it or straight up calling them out as a liar.
Obviously to do this you'll be making use of the game's amazing facial animation tech to look for the traits of deception, but it also looks like you'll be able to consult your notebook to see whether what the person in front of you is saying matches with what you already know.
And here's the notebook itself, the hub of the investigation. As you can see everything you find related to the case is logged here for later reference from the victim to possible murder weapons and motives.
And that, fellow detectives, is how we think the game will work in a nut-shell. We've stuck a tonne of screenshots at the bottom there for you to look over. Have a look and a talk.