Well, the boys at RockStar have released another video about their upcoming crime thriller L.A. Noire. I watched it. After I changed my pants, I watched it again. I have to stop, now, because I’m running out of trousers.
So many things in this video impress me, it’s really hard to know where to start. From watching it, it’s pretty obvious that they went with the same tried and true interface formula they used for the GTA series. This is a good thing.
Digging a little deeper, one can’t possibly help but notice the absolutely stunning mo-cap the game uses. Fluid running, fighting, walking, ducking…They really went to work on the animations.
Look a little closer and you’ll notice the facial animations…the absolutely stunning facial animations.
This is something that has been plaguing animators for…well…for as long as they’ve been animating and that is the problem of how to simulate the movement of the human face during speech. How to make it look real. So far, the closest I’ve seen is some of the work by BioWare and even that leaves more than a little to be desired…So far, that is, until I saw this video from RockStar.
Look at the faces while people talk. Look at the expression in their eyes, and on their face when they look at people. Look at the way the lips move, twist, curl. Look at the way the teeth and lips interact to form words. It’s pretty much perfect…
…And it’s about time.
I’ve never understood this problem, to be honest. I mean I know that there’s a huge amount of stuff going on in the human face when we’re making words. I know there’s dozens of muscles and yards of skin that are all moving in unison to form the sounds we base our communication off of. I know that there are subtleties that are very hard to see unless you’re really looking but I don’t know why it has taken animators so long to get it right.
RockStar, though, has gotten it right.
Take the facial expressions and add them to the mission system. Add those to the interrogations, clue finding and lead tracking. Add those to the retro feel and scenery. Add those to the police crime drama genre. Add that to the GTA controls and then multiply all of it by the high definition motion capture and speech engine and you get a number.
That number is 100.
100% chance I’m getting this the second it hits shelves.