Final Question

1

It can be argued to what extent that LA Noire is a good introduction to the idea of genre. The game attempts to homage the noir genre of film, popular in the 1940s – noir films usually featured morally ambigous detectives, often with a troubled past, who investigates a complex crime, encountering dangerous criminals and femme fatales, with the conclusion coming at a great personal cost to the protagonist. Noir can also be identified by its use of various visual techniques and iconography, especially the lighting and cinematography.

LA Noire uses these some these techniques to tell a story. Unlike most video games, the focus is on the characters and story, rather than gameplay. The game’s story is extremely linear, and the player has little choice in how the plot plays out, forcing the player to experience the story in the way that the game delevopers want it to be told. The game imtates the visual style of noir, with the settings, characters, and storylines of the various cases being lifted straight from classic noir (there is also an option to play the game in black and white, adding to the noir atmosphere).

However, on closer expection, LA Noire draws more from neo-noir than classical noir. Neo-noir is a more modern take on the genre, mixing the classical style with more up to date sensibilties, such as adding more explict sex, violence, and language, which classic noir couldn’t explore due to harsh censorship in the 1940s. Neo-Noir is therefre a pastiche, where elements of noir are taken and repurposed in new ways. Therefore, LA Noire is not really part of the noir genre, but instead it fits more into the neo-noir catergory.

Although the noir aspect of the game is its biggest draw, and most of the marketing for it was centred around it, the pastiche nature of the plot means that it would probably be more appreicated by people already familar with the concept of film noir. The fact that LA Noire is a video game means that the genre that it belongs to is debatable. A film is a passive experience, where the audience watches the plot unfold, but in a video game, the audience has a direct influence on what happens, meaning that the game must provide activites to keep the player interested, rather than simply telling a story. To this end, LA Noire uses elements from the driving, shooting, and adventure/puzzle solving genres of games. Although the game is heavily influenced by the Noir genre, it blurs the line to exactly what genre it belongs to, and ends up belonging to several at once – becoming a pastiche of different genres.

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Comments

  1. ClockworKei / Apr 30th, 2012 20:45 Quote

    I agree it could be seen more as Neo-noir, especially when considering the context of something interactive, I think the idea that it is neo-noir creates a strange juxtaposition though, you have a game set in the era of Film Noir, it’s of the Noir style and yet for some reason, we end up with a neo-noir product.
    I also think the fact the story is as linear as it is could be argued to be a Noir technique itself, as (to me anyway) it felt quite ‘confining’ to be stuck to what I am told to do by a strange, omni-present, corporate deity.

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