Tag Archives: L.A. Noire

Video Game Noir | L.A. Noire : Vice Desk


I called it. Detective Cole Phelps, the lovable straight-laced boy-scout who was destroying my noir definition by refusing to be an anti-hero, finally fell to temptation! The L.A. Noire “Vice Desk” chapter was my absolute favorite to date. Detective Phelps new beat is Hollywood, and finally some African American characters make their appearance. The music is dark jazz with a heavy blues influence, and the laid-back tunes perfectly match the rhythm of the unfolding story. My only complaint is that the “Vice Desk” chapter was the shortest so far, being comprised of only three interlinking story arcs:

1) The Black Caesar (a nod to a 1973 blaxploitation film)

2) The Set Up

3) Manifest Destiny

I really don’t want to write a full synopsis (mostly because I’m feeling lazy), but here is a run-down from wikipedia:

Phelps is then promoted to the Vice Department, also known as Administrative or Ad Vice. He and his new partner Roy Earle, who is himself corrupt, succeed in halting LA’s drug trade, government-issued morphine in particular and bringing down several big time drug dealers, including associates of mobster, Mickey Cohen, an associate of Al Capone. However, Phelps’s past comes back to haunt him when a Marine from his former unit is found shot dead. Phelps then discovers many of his former squad members are being targeted for assassination as well, and after meeting with his old comrade, Jack Kelso, who has now become an insurance claims investigator, Phelps deduces the men who will be assassinated, but unfortunately is unable to save most of them. He slowly uncovers that the U.S.S Coolridge, which transported his platoon home at the end of the war, was also carrying a large supply of surplus morphine. Phelps then comes to the conclusion that the deaths of his old comrades are linked to the ship; and the morphine, realising that the men made a pact to sell the morphine on the street. This caused their assassinations by other drug traffickers, including the mob. Phelps also begins an affair outside of his marriage with a German club singer named Elsa Lichtmann, who Earle constantly berates. Phelps is eventually demoted when Earle discloses his affair as a distraction from the other corrupt activities of several city leaders, including himself.

Video Game Noir L.A. Noire Xbox 360

everyone squints in this game, I should add that to my noir definition

The double-cross from Earle was amazing, and I am so pumped to see where it goes from here.  I have a hunch that there is more to the affair with Elsa than meets the eye, because we never actually see any indiscretions other than Phelps entering her apartment on several occasions. We don’t even see him kiss her. And when the “adultery” accusations begin to fly his way, he never denies the affair, but he is never allowed to explain himself. I was wondering when a true femme fatale was going to enter and with Elsa causing the downfall of our anti-hero, finally the stage is set with all the players outlined in our noir definition. L.A. Noire is shaping up to be a most incredible video game noir.

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Video Game Noir | L.A. Noire: Homicide Desk

Sorry Cats and Kittens, it’s been far too long since I put something up. Chalk it up to a holiday weekend and Minecraft. Back to the business at hand, I promised that I would be reviewing each of the “desks” that Cole Phelps is assigned to in the video game noir: L.A. Noire. Here is my second installment/fulfillment of that promise.

Video Game Noir L.A. Noire Xbox 360

everyone squints in this game, I should add that to my noir definition

The second desk in L.A. Noire started with a bang. Suddenly we were thrust into a whirlwind of dead naked bodies (all of them women, mind you (MISOGYNY)) and a hint of a serial killer called “the werewolf.” The women were found with obscenities painted on their bruised and strangled forms with lipstick, and each had a man in her life with motive enough for the harsh treatment. I will say that the nudity as done in a very classy way, and I never felt uncomfortable as I investigated the bodies. As each case unfolded with similar scenarios and culprits for the crime, I began to be really discouraged. I believe this stemmed from the fact that I didn’t believe we were catching the actual killers in each case, we were simply locking up the most reasonable suspect. Understandably, this was all a noir plot build-up to the final case where the player faces off against the Black Dahlia Killer, but these slowly unfolding semi-fulfilling cases were still fuel for frustration.

Video Game Noir L.A. Noire Homicide Desk

one of the victims

I felt the sting of video game limitation, my back fully against the wall of what I would do vs. what the character was able to do. It felt ridiculous to continually put away individuals who were obviously being set up by the real killer, but Phelps’ script would not allow for anything else. So basically, the first few murders are genuinely fun to solve, but once you hit the fourth repeat you’ll be ready to ditch the whole thing. I will say that once you get to the end of the line, and Cole is actually trying to find the true murderer, the game begins to shine once more. The developers allow you to solve the riddles given to Officer Phelps based upon how closely you have been paying attention to the historical landmarks in the city. Really fun stuff.

At the end of the day, the Homicide Desk in the video game noir L.A. Noire was excellent in part, but was bogged down by the limitations of the script. We’ll see what the Vice Desk has in store for Detective Phelps.

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Noir Crime Fiction | L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories

Noir Crime Fiction L.A. Noire The Collected Stories

sheesh...Femme Fatale with a capital "F"

I found out some amazing news through the BackAlleyNoir.com forums: turns out that Rockstar Games is releasing a noir crime fiction book titled “L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories”   based on the video game. The best part? All this week on Amazon, the kindle edition is COMPLETELY FREE. If you don’t have a kindle, don’t worry. If you download the Amazon Kindle app to your smartphone (also free) you can still get the collection in all its noir pulpy goodness. I haven’t started reading it yet, but it looks to be really good. Lets hope that it doesn’t disappoint. Here is some of the pulp cover art that is included:

Noir Crime Fiction L.A. Noire L.A. Noire Cover-The Girl

The Cover and the First Story in L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories

 

Noir Crime Fiction L.A. Noire Black Dahlia and White Rose-Hell of An Affair

Pulpy Goodness in L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories

 

Noir Crime Fiction L.A. Noire Postwar Boom-School for Murder

The Color Scheme for all these covers is perfect

 

Noir Crime Fiction L.A. Noire Naked Angel-Whats In A Name

I can't wait to review each of their noir crime fiction pulps.

images from:

http://rockstargames.com

http://blog.machinima.com

http://roccobarnard.co.za

http://mullhollandbooks.com

http://flavorwire.com

 

 

 

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Video Game Noir | L.A. Noire Misogyny

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.

Video Game Noir L.A. Noire Xbox 360

everyone squints in this game, I should add that to my noir definition

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?

Video Game Noir L.A. Noire Traffic Desk

hit and run? or something else...

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.

Video Game Noir L.A. Noire Misogyny

amazing art direction for this video game noir

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

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Quick Announcement: Video Game Noir Release

I don’t have time for a full post today, but you should all know that I have ordered L.A. Noire for XBOX 360 (it came out today). I should receive it in the mail by this weekend. That should provide some juicy video game noir posts I hope!

Keep whaling. (I got my copy from Newegg.com)

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