Rockstar anticipates gun-free future
L.A. Noire to shift focus to conversation.
Rockstar's games have made headlines in the past for their gratuitous violence, but the GTA developer says it can envisage a future where no gunplay whatsoever features in its titles.
When asked by The Guardian whether it would ever make a gun-free game, development VP Jeronimo Barrera said "absolutely", pointing to forthcoming crime epic L.A. Noire as its first title to dip its toes into more contemplative waters.
"We're flirting with that in this game – there are cases when you never draw a gun or chase a criminal," he explained.
"It's something that's going to happen sooner than later. I have children and when we get together as a family we play games, we don't watch TV. We're a generation that's always been around interactivity, and in the future something like L.A. Noire could be broadcast directly onto your cable set-top box. It's the future.
As showcased in the trailer below, L.A. Noire is using groundbreaking facial recognition tech to help make character interaction more immersive and nuanced, so much so that it becomes a key gameplay feature.
Barrera argued that this new focus should prove every bit as groundbreaking as Grand Theft Auto 3's open world gameplay.
"We're taking the same risks with L.A. Noire as we did when we published GTA 3. At that time, I remember trying to explain to people that there aren't really any levels, you can go where you want, you activate missions when you want. It was going over people's heads. They thought it was absurd.
"Well, this game is a bit more cerebral, you have to talk to people, you have to figure out if they're telling you the truth, but it's taking that same sort of step that GTA took. We're going from having a cinematic experience that you can control to a human experience that you can control."
Making conversation so central to the experience represents a vital leap forward in the developer's evolution, Barrera insisted elsewhere in the interview.
"At Rockstar, we're always trying to push the medium. If games are only going to be about shooting things, dying and starting over, that's a pretty boring future for us. So here's an opportunity where we thought, how can we make having a conversation be the focus of the gameplay?
"It's been sort of the holy grail for a long time and the technology wasn't there to approach it in this manner. Obviously, there have been a million talking heads in video games – games like Mass Effect do an amazing job, the guys at BioWare really know how to work conversation systems.
"But we wanted to take it a step further and actually have that human element that can be missing from those games; the ability to see a performance rather than a puppet on screen.
"It's a good step forward, and it's really important to our industry," he surmised. "Sure, there's a place for shooting games, I'm a big fan of Dead Space 2, but we have to expand our horizons."
Not long to wait now until you get to check out out Rockstar's ambitious vision. L.A. Noire launches on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 20th May.