An incredible article by Popular Science details the photographs Team Bondi and Rockstar used to create the largely accurate locale of 1947 Los Angeles in L.A. Noire. Robert Spence was an extreme photographer in Los Angeles during the 20s. The man is known for the way that he shot completely unique areas of L.A.: he hung from a biplane while snapping pictures with a camera that weighed around 46 pounds.
Rockstar is well known for their ability to recreate well known and well traversed cities. In Grand Theft Auto IV, players canvased the entirety of Liberty City. As most already know, an overwhelming portion of the in game locale within GTA IV was perfectly recreated from New York, New York. The zeal Rockstar has for capturing the essence of a city, masterfully duplicating the landmarks and placing them in a game world makes them stand as one of the best in the game design field.
Of course, given the setting of L.A. Noire, Rockstar and Team Bondi aimed to recreate 1947 Los Angeles in as true a fashion as possible. For that they turned to the UCLA Department of Geology and a collection of Robert Spence’s photographs. Using his completely unique perspective of the city (you know, the one he snagged while leaning out of an airplane with a giant camera), Rockstar and Team Bondi were able to faithfully recreate the setting for their crime-solving thriller.
What was particularly special about Spence’s method of shooting was the angle of the shots themselves. Spence was hired, according to Air and Space Magazine, to take pictures of buildings in L.A.. He went out and hired a pilot with a bi-plane and took to the skies. However, rather than shooting the buildings from a directly top-down angle, Spence took his photos from the side. That was the key factor that separated his work from the rest of the urban photographers at the time.
Rockstar and Team Bondi took those special angles, ones that achieved an incredible realistic and lifelike portrayal of Los Angeles at the time, and built the world of L.A. Noire around them.
And, judging by the first several hours of the story in the game, they’ve achieved something special. The Los Angeles that I’ve experinced so far in L.A. Noire is unlike any other gamnig version of the city I’ve seen. It’s alive and breathing, but it’s also delivered in a manner that just feels real.
Has anyone else spent time with L.A. Noire? What do you think?