L.A. Noire is a crime procedural drama from Australian studio Team Bondi, which is looking to recreate the mood and melodrama of classic Noir films of yesteryear – think Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. But unlike most developers who have looked to Hollywood for inspiration only to find a shaven-headed meathead, Team Bondi has used its lessons to create a game that actually has a cinematic quality.
The 1940s LA in the game is packed full of drug peddlers, murderers, stylish dames and corrupt public servicemen. All the Noir themes are here, to such an extent it almost descends into a parody of the genre. It’s great entertainment nevertheless thanks to the quality of the acting and writing, and its great sense of style.
Can I see acting? Surely not.
Aaron Stanton (better known as Ken Cosgrove from Mad Men) is fantastic for 30 plus hours as detective Cole Phelps (you). His forceful, straight-talking approach commands respect, making him a believable detective. On top of that, he is pretty likeable too. However, he is a slippery person, and there are moments throughout the game when you will question his personality. It’s hard, for example, not to feel uncomfortable when Phelps sternly interrogates a young child, who has only just lost her mother. Let’s just say, he is believable and human, which is quite atypical for a gaming character.
Stanton is ably assisted by a superb cast of supporting characters too, particularly his many partners, who provide much of the humour in the game. Michael McGrady is especially good in the role of Rusty Galloway, Phelps’ world-weary partner on Homicide whose answer to every case is, “It’s the husband, Phelps”. However, it’s unfair to single out individual actors because the standard is very high across the board.
LA has as many glamorous stars as it has low-life malefactors.
A keen bobby
Phelps is new to the force when L.A. Noire begins. He is keen to get ahead, and his reputation as a war hero (having earned a Silver Star in Vietnam) helps him get noticed by his superiors. He soon gets his promotion after impressing on four short missions while out on patrol. The missions are designed to teach the basics of investigating, chasing criminals and fighting.
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