How real is too real?

20:30, Jan 19 2011

How real is too real when it comes to video game characters?

That's the question I'll constantly be asking myself this morning as I get a "hands-off" look at Rockstar's next game, L.A. Noire, in Auckland. Hands-off means, obviously, that the session will be "look but you can't actually play it", but at least I'll get an impression of what the game's all about and the tech behind it.

It's a detective thriller set in 1947 Los Angeles; gamers play as Cole Phelps, a cop in the LAPD working his way through the ranks. L.A. Noire is just as much about paying attention to the body language of suspects as it is about gathering physical evidence at a crime scene. It could also have the most realistic looking characters in a video game we've seen to date.

Much of the buzz around L.A. Noire, though, is the technology behind it, namely developer Team Bondi's use of motion scan, a technology that instead of capturing just the face of an actor, takes a 360-degree scan of the actor's entire head as he or she delivers their lines. That means that every raised eyebrow, every wrinkle and every subtle mouth movement is conveyed on the digital actor's face in-game and could be a clue that helps in solving crimes.

I'm sure you'll agree that from the screen shot here, the characters look uncannily human. Agree?

But let's go back to my original question? "How real is too real?" How far should video game developers go in their quest to present gamers with the most realistic digital actors that they can produce? Do gamers really want life-like people staring back at them from their games?

By this afternoon, I'll have a clearer picture on L.A. Noire and how it's looking, but do you think video games run the risk of of getting too realistic in their depiction of humans - or are you all for more realistic portrayals of video game characters?

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