wow. L.A. Noire is a video game noir masterpiece… it’s also very misogynistic. Lets start at the beginning, I will be writing four different reviews for this game, one for each “desk” that you serve in the Las Angeles Police Department. First stop, Traffic. You play this video game noir as Cole Phelps, a World War II hero and aspiring straight-laced police detective. Cole shocks his peers and his employers with his uncanny ability to suss out the truth of any seedy situation or suspicious character. At this point of the game he falls short of our stated noir definition, for he is not truly an “anti-hero” ….yet. I haven’t beat the game yet (or solved the final cases) but if my gut tells me anything about noir, it tells me that Cole has some sort of flaw that has been hidden in his past (or some flaw yet to be expressed). No one can remain a boy scout for that long.
Lets talk about misogyny in L.A. Noire. Almost every victim of any crime thus far has been a woman. The female characters in the game are treated as little more than children or objects for the violent lust of criminal predators. Rape, molestation, and pedophilia all rear their ugly heads in one form or another, and the game refuses to pull any punches. Personally, I think this is perfectly in line with what I have studied so far in the noir genre. Women are often hated, either through their exploitation or through exerting one form of dominance or another over them. Misogyny is the sad reality of noir. L.A. Noire is simply portraying its genre effectively… or are they?
One thing I will commend Team Bondi and Rockstar Games on is that through all the objectification of women that occurs in L.A. Noire, Cole Phelps (the main character) never participates. This lack of misogyny from the main character seems to be a trend in modern noir. It’s almost as if the authors are rejecting this aspect of the noir genre by writing heroes for us that break the cycle of abuse. Instead of mistreating women, they become their defenders and protectors, and they strive to right (write) the wrongs perpetrated against them by the old guard. I speak more of this in my review of Criminal #1 by Ed Brubaker.
I was greatly pleased and surprised more than once by this first of four chapters in the game. The cases range from blood smattered abandoned vehicles to heart-pounding foot chases and bare-fist brawls. L.A. Noire nails the historical era with a class an ease unmatched by any video game noir I have played to date. Play this game, and step into a simpler time in America’s history when men were men and you wouldn’t think of leaving the house without a suit and a hat. Oddly enough, no femme fatale has manifested herself yet… 3 more installments to come.
I purchased my copy from Newegg.com
The hit and run image was from photobucket.com
the L.A. Noire Logo image was from platformnation.com