L.A. Noire screenshot
L.A. Noire screenshot

Neatly, the game seems to try its hardest to make life easy for the player without succumbing to bluntly obvious gameplay aids. When you've entered an area with clues, for example, the background score takes on a tingly, mysterious quality; when you've found everything there is to see, the music fades away again. Occasionally you may need to use the resources of the LAPD to help you with your investigations, stopping by one of the blue police phones that litter the side of the road; you might want to call in to check someone's background, for example, or to follow up on a partial license plate match. And whoever Phelps is partnered with for a case (it'll vary from job to job), they'll be on hand to actively help, rather than just bumming along for the ride. If you can't be bothered to drive to the next location, they'll take the wheel for you. And when you're about to interrogate someone, your buddy may offer subtle advice on how you should approach them. When Phelps first chats to young Jessica Hamilton, Bekowsky suggests that you go on easy on her, since she's just a kid.

It's the interrogations themselves that ultimately impress the most, however. It took me a good 15 minutes or so to get over the Uncanny Valley effect of the faces, so mesmerising is their impact. Few games have managed to convey expressions in such a convincing manner, and it's no small understatement to say that L.A. Noire could mark the start of a whole new vein of gaming. Uncharted 2 and Heavy Rain made great strides in the progression of storytelling and simulated emotion, but it's the way Team Bondi uses this verisimilitude that interests me. There's something entertaining and very satisfying about being able to spot when someone is lying to you, and while Ms Ballard's facial gymnastics were perhaps a little OTT, characters I saw later in the demo seemed far better at hiding their true feelings.

This bodes well, as surely much of the game's fun will lie in attempting to outsmart the NPCs. On the other hand, it sounds as if Team Bondi has designed the game in a way that allows for player error. In past detective games (Phoenix Wright, Hotel Dusk and the like) the tendency has been to force the player to re-try conversations until they hit the correct path, but apparently the cases in Noire will bend and stretch to accommodate various paths: if you fail to mine a nugget of info from one suspect, and alert them in the process, you'll have to find your answers from somewhere else. It's a promising setup, but a curious one too - because if a player is very astute at handling their witnesses, surely they may end up missing the content that will be shown to more clumsy players. It'll be fascinating to see how Team Bondi handles this design challenge.

There's also the question of action. This preview has focused almost exclusively on the investigation side of the game, but there's also the more explosive side of things to think about. At the moment, melee combat looks a bit less graceful than the rest of the game - it's still being tinkered with, apparently - although I did like the fact that Phelps' hat got knocked off as he rumbled; the car chase and gunplay sequences seem far more self-assured, and don't look a million miles away from their GTA IV counterparts, which is clearly no bad thing.

The bigger question, perhaps, is to what extent the game will use these mechanics. The Fallen Idol is the last case on the Traffic Desk, so it's only natural that we'd get a bit of action, but will there be a similar degree of action on every case? I'm so taken with the quieter, more thoughtful side of things, I almost feel it would be a shame to have too many bursts of action. Either way, I'm hugely excited by what I've seen of L.A. Noire so far. There looks to be genuine innovation here, both in terms of design and in the supporting technology. And with such a wealth of great source material to delve into - think Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy - Team Bondi's debut may be one of the major events of 2011.

L.A. Noire will be released in the Spring of 2011, on PS3 and Xbox 360.

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

Deetsitmeister's Avatar


Nice read ;), the new video that is up on the site, Red Dead had video exactly in the same style and that turned out to be one of the best games ever

On a side note, I hope the change multiplayer if its is in there because I still dont like Rockstars direction to multiplayer it did not capture me for long enough
Posted 18:44 on 09 February 2011
altaranga's Avatar


Interesting. Very interesting.

(Can't believe it's taken me this long to read it).
Posted 21:52 on 05 January 2011
draytone's Avatar


Knocking up a list of games that I'll definitely preorder and this is pretty high up. Really looking forward to more news being released on it.
Posted 09:36 on 04 January 2011
ThePhantomKnight's Avatar


I REALLY like the idea of your partner giving you subtle hints at which approach would be best to take in certain situations. Makes you feel like you actually have someone watching over your back,instead of some useless A.I. I hope they have this much usefullness in combat.
Posted 22:01 on 03 January 2011
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ draytone

Aye really important we knew what engine the game had so I can enjoy it more.
Posted 16:56 on 23 November 2010
draytone's Avatar


Glad we got it sorted as to what physics engine it's using, had a couple of sleepless nights there.
Posted 15:29 on 23 November 2010
chelskiboy247's Avatar


I had literally no interest in this game before reading this, great preview Neon!
Posted 09:29 on 23 November 2010
batik89's Avatar

batik89@ Neon-Soldier32

Basically I don't care with the game engine, apart from the MotionScan technology. I just feel Euphoria is the best physics engine I've ever seen. So if I know they'll be using Euphoria in this game, it will boost my mood while waiting the game. That's it :)
Posted 13:46 on 20 November 2010

Neon-Soldier32@ batik89

Curiosity here, but why do you care so much what engine it is using?
Posted 13:37 on 20 November 2010
batik89's Avatar


Euphoria can be combined with another game engine. For example, "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" has its own engine, but the devs combine it with Euphoria. FYI, Euphoria isn't a game engine, it's a physics engine, separate from the core game engine. So I need Neon to contact R* and make sure whether L.A. Noire still using NaturalMotion Euphoria or not. Thanks :)
Posted 13:30 on 20 November 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar


Ah, well there we go. Nice work!
Posted 13:13 on 20 November 2010
rbevanx's Avatar


Well apparently it won't from what I have just found out.

"Team Bondi’s L.A. Noire is one of the most ambitious Rockstar titles to date, featuring a massive open world and a groundbreaking animation system. It’s also one of the first Rockstar titles in some time that doesn’t use Rockstar’s RAGE engine, rather Team Bondi’s proprietary engine. Today, we unveil a few more L.A. Noire screens that weren’t featured in our cover story. The new images show cops preparing to storm a building, investigating a crime scene, and cruising the streets of 1940s Los Angeles, Check the L.A. Noire homepage for more extra content in the coming weeks. From what we’ve seen this is one of the most exciting upcoming games of 2010."


"Euphoria works within RAGE as a middle-ware animations engine"

Posted 13:03 on 20 November 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ draytone

Give me a few days and I'll look into this ;)
Posted 12:50 on 20 November 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar


Phoenix Wright : Lie To Me! Overall, this sounds excellent.
Posted 09:20 on 20 November 2010
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker@ tvr77

You're not the only one; hadn't heard about it till the trailer either. don't know how this slipped by my radar... I love Rockstar games.
Posted 19:45 on 19 November 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 20/05/2011
Developer: Team Bondi
Publisher: Rockstar
Genre: Third-person shooter
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 727 136
View Full Site