Tuesday, May 17, 2011
A Game Even Mickey Cohen Might Have Liked
"L.A. Noire" launched today. I'm not a video gamer by any means, but it's worth mentioning today's radio interview with John Buntin, author of "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City," the book about gangster Mickey Cohen's reign over the City of Angels.
The book and the video game are similarly titled, although the game title has an extra "e" for reasons still unclear to me.
Why mention the game at all in this forum? Because the video game is said to be more cinematic than a non-enthusiast for video games such as myself might suspect. The plot also borrows story points from the AMC TV series "Mad Men," a favorite of mine.
Buntin, who I've had the pleasure of meeting at a book signing he did at the L.A. Athletic Club, got a preview of the game, which has been under heavy wraps by its developer, Rockstar Games. Buntin admired what he saw, all in all, but noted that L.A.'s skies circa 1947, the era in which the "L.A. Noire" game is set, are too pastel blue (where's the smog?), the police don't act as violently as they were capable of then and the city is not shown as densely populated as was 1947 Los Angeles.
However, developers went to great pains to portray the city accurately, poring over 1947 topographical maps of the city, collecting vintage Sears catalogs to get the colors correct -- yes, this "Noire" is in color, not black and white.
For those of us who enjoy the films, fiction and true crime stories of 1930s to 1950s L.A., it's probably a good thing that pop culture is finally catching up with the literature from the shadowy underbelly of Los Angeles. Maybe film-makers will become inspired and create something like the old movies for the big screen.
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