The technology of LA Noire

Why the next gaming smash is obsessed with faces

TechRadar suggested to the RockStar rep showcasing the game that the confidence being shown in MotionScan was either incredibly brave or, if it does not work well, foolish.

"I think it shows our confidence in the technology," he said. "We think it lends itself to this kind of game."

The proof of the pudding, however, is in the tasting and the results are certainly a step change in terms of realism.

LA noire an interviewee

It would be foolish to suggest that MotionScan has truly allowed a dramatic escape from the Uncanny Valley effect – the term used to describe the eerie unreality of computer generated faces.

The reasoning goes that, although we have no trouble identifying with representations of faces that are not attempting realism – like cartoons – as we move closer to photorealism we begin to find the subtle differences increasingly unsettling.

And LA Noire's cast of hundreds (400 actors were scanned in – with faces and movement all accurately represented in the game) are not entirely convincing quite yet. Someone walking into the room would not be fooled into thinking they were watching real actors unless they had only taken the briefest glance.

LA noire the main protaganist

But, make no mistake, MotionScan is a country mile away from the clumsy representations that we've giggled at in past games – the representations are actually close enough for you to quickly stop worrying about some of the minor niggles such as the hair and the skin pallor and focus on the game. The risk that was taken in trusting the technology should not backfire.

During the course of the slightly harrowing case that we watched being played through, interrogations of witnesses by our character, decorated war hero Cole Phelps, were pivotal to the progression. It is testament to the game that a potentially lurid story involving the rape of a minor on a casting couch and some blackmail is handled relatively sensitively – and that the acting and the humanity in the face helps bring the case to life.