They took us into the sealed booth for a short gameplay demonstration (someone else was playing, so it wasn’t hands on, but that’s okay). L. A. Noire seems to be going in the direction of compelling storytelling in the vein of their critical success, Red Dead Redemption. The story takes place in 1947 Los Angeles, a time known for their rampant crime.
You play as a detective, veteran of World War II and silver star awardee from the Battle of Okinawa, returning to L.A. and seeing all the crime in the nation he defended so dearly. Fed up, he joined the L.A. police department and worked on burglaries until finally being transferred to the homicide investigations unit which is where the game begins.
You and your partner drive to the murder scene and arrive to see classic 40s fast talkin’ reporters taking pictures for their big scoop. The naked female corpse quickly brings the game to an M-rating and your character walks around, looking for clues. The detective crouches over the body, holding the head by the chin and turns it from cheek to cheek to examine the blunt force trauma and notes it in his book. The notebook is a critical feature of the game which is how your investigator keeps track of clues and evidence which is presented to characters during interrogations in a bit of logic puzzle solving in the style of the Ace Attorney series.
The detective goes on to pick up various objects of interest at the crime scene and gets a lead at the bar, heading over. He interrogates the bar proprietor and we get to see out first glimpse of the interrogation mode. Rockstar has emphasized the significance of their MotionScan technology and it shows, the characters you interrogate have impressively realistic facial and body reactions and read if they are lying, telling the truth, or hiding something. There was one instance where I felt that the reaction didn’t seem like what the demonstrator said it was, but this technology could have great potential.
The presenters made a point that the game was about violence as a last resort, the characters keep their guns holstered and fists to themselves until toward the end of the demo. We didn’t get to see any sandbox style gameplay characteristic of Rockstar’s games, but it seems truly about a strong storyline and narrative.
L.A. Noire will be released May 17 for PS3 and Xbox 360.