Tag Archives: X-box

LA Noire: Mystery Solved

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LA Noire: Mystery Solved

Having been a fan of the ‘X-Box’ for some time now, I’ve been introduced to an array of games and applications – especially since the release of the ‘Kinect’.  Due to my love of the 40’s and 50’s, as well as my bizarre fascination with criminal behaviour – primarily serial killers, I was intrigued when I caught wind of ‘LA Noire’. Since ‘Rockstar’ usually produces well made games with beautifully rendered graphics, splendidly scripted stories (with believable plot lines) and a close link to the line between reality and fantasy, my expectations and level of excitement was very high to say the least.

As with many of the newer games released by Rockstar, the initial build up was somewhat elusive, with a very ‘hush hush’ marketing campaign and an absolutely ‘non-existent’ leak of information onto the world wide web (but it may also have been because I spend most of my time working and running around after a 5 year old to have noticed) – I only discovered its existence about 2 or 3 months before its release.  I did however pre-order it. Obviously.

Initially I was apprehensive.  Rockstar is renowned for having you ‘play’ as the bad guy, renegade or vigilante, where you feel compelled to play ‘bowling for people’, as you wrecklessly cruise down sidewalks and over curbs, experiencing a thrill with the ever-rising number of knocked over pedestrians. Where the concept of being chased by a ‘cop’ is what you aspire towards as you try to be as ‘badass’ as possible. 

Rockstar decided to take a different approach on this one, one where – “this time, you’re the good guy…”.

There is of course the fascinating new technology used by Rockstar, courtesy of Team Bondi, the Australian developers who utilised their ‘MotionScan technology to capture the actual performances of the actors/actresses who were cast to portray the various roles. This remarkable technology, literally bridging the gap between ‘cinema’ and gaming, adding that perhaps ‘all too real’ feeling, where games of the bygone era, such as ‘Phantasmagoria’ so epically failed back in the 90’s. They truly did a sterling job on the overall appearance, especially from a ‘character’ perspective.  As the story goes, they also successfully managed to replicate the area of Los Angeles used in the game, to a said 90% accuracy of the ‘then’ landmarks, buildings and positioning of the city in accordance to what it must have been like in the mid to late 40’s.

What I feel to be the most intrinsic difference in comparison to previous games released by Rockstar, is that this one is a ‘brainer’ (opposed to a ‘No-brainer, in case you were wondering). It’s a story you have to pay attention to, with detective work being something you have to be interested in or it will lose you and your wits and leave you flapping in frustration. The MotionScan technology captures almost every facial twitch and muscle movement, being the basis through which most of the detective work gets done – only due to the fact that observing suspects during an interrogation can lead to the conviction or freedom of the right or wrong person, with the weight of that decision being entirely in your hands. With an approximate 20 hours of in game cut scenes having been recorded by the live actors, this in itself far outweighs the Lord of The Rings Trilogy by many hours as far as ‘viewing time’ goes. It also makes a change to have the onscreen presence belong to the voiceover, but moreso have the actor/actress accurately represented. 

Aaron Staton IS LA Noire

From Left to Right: (1) Aaron Staton during a MotionScan capture session (2) The initial result of the scan (3) In-game screenshot and final product of Aaron Staton as 'Cole Phelps (4) Statons real-life appearance in his portrayal of 'Ken Cosgrove' on Madmen

The lead character is Cole Phelps, portrayed by Aaron Staton. Who is that you ask? I didn’t know either. But as it turns out he’s one of the actors from that show ‘Madmen’ (which I tried desperately to get into, but just couldn’t). And was so taken aback by his incredible acting ability, it’s given me reason to try watching it again. Throughout the game you’re introduced to many characters, some of which you too would recognise – like Brian Krause (Who played Leo in ‘Charmed’), John Noble (Who plays Dr Walter Bishop in ‘Fringe’) and Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman on ‘Heroes’).  These cameo performances and those of so many other ‘recognised’ actors/actresses added to the overall depth and quality of the game, giving it that extra little hit to its credibility.

The first few murders seem unrelated and then veer towards the mysterious unsolved “Black Dahlia” murder which took place in 1947, but fortunately for those not so keen on being a ‘gumshoe’, the game is nicely paced with ‘mini quests’ where you can opt to respond to the police radio and get to to rather ‘every-day-cop-stuff’ such as car chases, bank robberies and preventing suicidal maniacs from jumping off buildings. Hoewever the primary focus of the game is on the main storyline – so if you’re craving a little ‘free-roam’ action, then this won’t be for you unless your obsessive compulsive disorder kicks in and you feel the need to find every hidden vehicle as well as landmark in the city.

Initially I was excited, then as I began to play – felt it might get somewhat tedious if there was an ‘overkill’ of dialogue and cut scenes…however the combination of Staton’s incredible portrayal of such a believable character readjuting to everyday life succeeding the aftermath of the 2nd World War and reinforced by his keen sense of morality and sticking to his beliefs (even through times with some partners who would do well with a mouthful of soap for their ignorant approaches and narrow minded view) Coupled with the intrigue and suspense, where an eye for detail and a compulsive need to not leave any stone unturned will fair you well in your search for justice, the cut scenes and dialogue make it the unique off-centre *SUPER HIT* of this year, simply for being the first of its kind. Although Heavy Rain peaked the turnaround and appreciation for the ‘Cine/Game’ genre, I feel that Rockstar and Aaron, sure gave it a run for it’s money.

So as much as I could rave on about the game, I think we should keep a look out for Aaron Staton…seems like he could be the real star here! Mystery solved.

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Why The 50’s?

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It came to me in a video game of all things. Prior to my unnatural obsession with the swinging 50’s, I had been intrigued by the 80’s. Their overuse of neon colours, big poofy hair and the awesome music which provided the backdrop to some of the most legendary films of all times. What was not to love? It’s where the mullet originated for crying-out-loud.

However, my secret love for the X-box introduced me to a game – which would forever revolutionise everything from my music taste to the way I perceived the world and the family unit. This game, known as Fallout 3 – is based on a post-apocalyptic America where the world as we know it had not progressed in mindset, further than the fifties. However, technology advanced, as did war – but their lives and values remained simple and about survival. The backdrop to this brilliant game was complimented by the most glorious musical score I had ever experienced. Initially it was all too bizarre… It didn’t seem fitting. But whether by indoctrination through means of repetition, I found myself at one point singing along and feeling quite jovial – even in instances where I was mauling radiation-mutated beings into a pulp with my SMG. For the first time in my life I had found music which truly made me feel happy and ‘jumpy’ and could put me in an awesome mood simply by tuning in.

Since then, and with the help of the internet – I have subsequently managed to track down the now digitised versions (CD’s) of most of the listed artists whose music guided me through one of my now favourite games of all time. Having loaded my i-pod and i-mac to the max with music from the likes of Danny Kaye & the Andrews Sisters, The Ink Spots, Roy Brown, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald – I now too have ventured further afield and discovered that I also really enjoy Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Every day is bliss and far more enjoyable. These were times where music was entirely original, it was also about love and family and far simpler times. It stemmed primarily from around the time of the 2nd World War and the time shortly thereafter – where people realised that it was people who mattered, and that senseless killing and war was to pushed to the back. In it’s place should be the far more important things, such as life and living.

If you listen closely you’ll hear the beauty and simplicity, as well as the sarcasm and irony and even sometimes – especially with Roy Brown – some really ‘naughty’ undertones. Danny Kaye known especially for his humour and using this as his primary weapon against all things deemed unpleasant at the time, such as the atom bomb and the irony of people in society going about their daily lives, in complete support of the war and the atrocities that it brought to the forefront – all the while being an atrocity itself – and claiming how they were civilised.

”]Danny Kaye [Album - Beatin', Bangin' & Scratchin']

“I looked through a magazine the missionary’s wife concealed,
(Magazine, what happened?)
I see how people who are civilised bung you with automobiles
(You know you can get hurt that way, Danny)
At the movies they have got to pay, many coconuts to see,
(What do they see Danny)
Uncivilised pictures that the news reel takes of me

They hurry like savages to get aboard an iron train
And though it’s smoky and it’s crowded, they’re too civilised to complain
When they’ve got two weeks vacation, they hurry to vacation grounds
(What do they do Danny)
They swim and they fish but that’s what I do all year round…

They have things like the atom bomb
so I think I’ll stay where i am
Civilisation… I’ll stay right here”

Danny Kaye – ‘Bongo, Bongo, Bongo’
(Album – Beatin’, Bangin’ and Scratchin’)