L.A. Noire Is Pulling Faces At Me, And I Like It

14 04 2011

It’s been a while since I was properly excited about some new gaming technology or advancement. Motion control à la Kinect and the PlayStation Move was solid stuff, but nothing we hadn’t already seen – the Eyetoy and the Wii had been doing it years before.

‘Real’ 3D gaming hasn’t particularly gripped me either. There’s no way I would buy a 3D TV (at least, not until it drops heavily in price) and I really don’t see why I’d want to sit wearing silly-looking glasses and trying to focus on phantom 3D images. Even the Nintendo 3DS’s stereoscopic images aren’t a huge selling point for me – I just wanted a new Nintendo handheld!

So it’s a big deal for me to say that my ‘Next Big Thing’ is the MotionScan technology used in upcoming Rockstar title L.A. Noire. I’ve always had a huge problem with faces in video games – visually the industry has been pushing the boundaries over and over for many years, but facial expressions have always been a little crappy.

I remember thinking that the expressions in Mafia were the most impressive I had ever seen, and honestly, we haven’t come very far since then. Characters still don’t look like they’re actually saying the words coming out of their mouths, and it’s long been an issue that I’d completely given up hope on, naively deciding that it must just be one area that is out-of-reach.

I was already interested in L.A. Noire before I saw the videos. It’s Rockstar. It’s like a cross between Phoenix Wright and Mafia. Why wouldn’t I like it! Then I caught a glimpse of those facial expressions, and immediately pondered ‘why has this not been done before?’. It’s bloody gorgeous, and gives a real movie feel.

There are plenty of reasons that I’m looking forward to L.A. Noire, but that MotionScan technology is the main selling point for me. Hopefully in a few years time, every studio will be using it. Give this short Gamasutra interview a read if you’re interested.


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