Nitpicking Grand Theft Auto V: I Miss L.A. Noire's Facial Capture
With Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar has created a highly immersive and visually impressive world. Very few people would deny this. Yet there’s a major flaw to remind us just how old the technology of both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is getting: The game’s facial animations are utter crap.
Seriously, this makes the mouth movements in an anime seem realistic. At times, I swear I can see teeth popping through the face or gums. It’s distracting, reminding me that I’m not actually inhabiting the living and breathing world of Los Santos. If anything, it has me missing my time in 1940s Los Angeles.
See, L.A. Noire, published by Rockstar and developed by Team Bondi, used advance facial capture technology. The results were impressive. Regardless of what people may say about the body animations, the game’s faces were lively, vibrant, and realistic: the exact opposite of the faces in Grand Theft Auto V.
The GTA franchise has always been a bit behind in terms of visuals. The worlds are absolutely gigantic, after all. San Andreas was a massive game, and it’s hard to imagine how it was even running on the PlayStation 2. Still, it’s hard to deny that the lack of a legitimate draw distance helped yanked the player out of the immersive environment. Los Santos looks so much better with all the sights in the background, no?
With GTA V, the immersion breaking happens with every cinematic cutscene. The characters bring me in, the writing has me hooked, and then I’m punted to the curb when I look at the facial animations.
Granted, I might be cut from a different cloth than the average gamer. I get paranoid whenever my TV's video is out of sync with the audio, so you can imagine how batty the facial animation work is making me feel.
But then again, I’m just nitpicking. Or am I? Grand Theft Auto V plays out like a cinematic movie. Its pacing is fantastic, the characters are incredible, and — ugh, Michael, your mouth shouldn’t move like that when you’re talking. I miss Cole Phelps; L.A. Noire spoiled me far too much. I miss sitting through each character interaction and getting lost in the characters and the story.
If only L.A. Noire and Grand Theft Auto could combine to become a super video game.