First week’s questions

5

1. Roy Earl is a man of about 35-40 years old who wears very expensive clothing (for the time) since most of his cases are very high-class and aren’t the “…normal run of the mill…” cases. He has a very strong personality, very persuasive and very assertive.

Cole Phelps is a man of about his late 20s, early 30s, who’s devoted to justice. He’s troubled by his past (the war in Okinawa) and doesn’t like to talk about what he has done there. Many characters praise him for his Hero’s Commendation, however Phelps has a horrible secret about the war that he doesn’t want to tell people.

 

2. Both of the characters that I’ve chosen from LA Noire remind me from characters from a novel that I read last year; The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is a novel set in the 1920s and, other than that, isn’t related too much at all to the genre of game that LA Noire partakes in.

The first character, Roy Earl, reminds me Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby because of his abuse of power in his position. In The Great Gatsby Tom Buchanan is a rich and very powerful man (both physically and mentally) although very selfish. Later in the game you find out that most of the work that Earl does in the game is often corrupt and always to his own personal benefit — which is very similar to Tom’s motives in The Great Gatsby.

The other character that I find interesting is that of Cole Phelps, but this is largely down to the fact that he is the narrator and protagonist in the game. The Great Gatsby has an intradiegetic narrative — meaning that the narrator is almost playing through the story at the same time as the reader. I’m not sure if the term “Intradiegetic” could be applied to the game as well as being a literary term, however the style of intradiegetic narration does seem very relevant to this game. Aside from that, both Nick and Cole play an unbiased role in the game and have to evaluate all of the evidence obtained both in the game and in the novel (of The Great Gatsby) and only has as much information as the reader/audience has.

3. I think that the most obvious thing to focus on with this game is the fact that it has a first-person intradiegetic narrative (I love that word!). The fact that you are the narrator and the protagonist and the character only knows as much as you do allows for a very intriguing and intense game-play. In contrast to other games such as Gears Of War/Modern Warfare franchise/Fifa games/Final Fantasy series and other games alike, LA Noire invites the player to continue the story and develop the character’s personality and competence as a detective. In other games set in fantasy worlds there is already a pre-existing history behind the character — their reason to be there, their objective, their motive — but LA Noire does not present that immediately.

Another thing that I find interesting about this game is that it is completely linear (with the exception of a few small side-quests) and doesn’t offer the gamer much choice in the direction that they can take the character, meaning that they have no choice but to play out the game — in contrast to some games such as the GTA franchise or, more recently, Skyrim, where the player has multiple side-quests and missions that can be attempted and completed before actually progressing anywhere in the main storyline. However I don’t think that LA Noire obeys the rules of “popular games” in the sense that this actually works for the game. The fact that you have one set role to undergo, that of being a detective, almost encourages people to actually play through the entire story. I believe that it’s THIS reason that LA Noire could quite easily be considered an interactive novel.

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Comments

  1. AndrewKingsley / Mar 15th, 2012 18:15 Quote

    Having read Great Gatsby myself I can see the similarites, I however disagreed with your opinion about Cole being ‘neutral’. I believed that sometimes he let his opinion shine a bit to bright and this was shown through violence or threats towards his witnesses but that is partly due to his past.

    I do agree that the player and Cole are on similar terms and only know as much as each other, making Cole more relatable.

  2. Lieutenant Sam / Mar 15th, 2012 22:29 Quote

    I have also read the Great Gatsby and can see where your coming from with the similarities. I agree that intradiegetic narrative forms a bond between the player and the game much the same way was The Great Gatsby does. Through limitations we are controlled into what we see, and as you have mentioned through linearity we can’t strive much further from the development of the story and characters.

    Much the same way as books much is left out, only the juicy bits that have relevance stay in tune. We see personality through character interaction and the infinitive new facial technology that this game brings, in a narrative we are exposed to the narrator’s view who chooses what we see, especially a omnipresent narrator.

    I have to disagree that LA Noire develops character background as the game progresses and that such games as Final Fantasy do not. Such games as Final Fantasy encompasses a huge amount of character development which the franchise has thrived on, this story driven genre makes the player want to carry on playing more. I see your point and maybe I’m just reading it wrong but LA Noire is nothing new in this sense, except it brings new ways of being a author less narrative.

    Sam

  3. ticknaylor / Mar 16th, 2012 16:16 Quote

    Regarding the linear nature of the game, I do think this enable LA Noire to be analysed as a literary text, given that there is only one narrative that we can follow when playing the game. It is strange for me to enjoy such a linear plot when i’ve grown to depend on the freedom offered by the GTA series etc. for long lasting gameplay. I do think that during the interview segments and clue finding, there are elements of the story that can be lost by not answering correctly, or by missing a clue, and it differs from a novel in this respect. Although, with the facility to replay investigations and find 100% it could be argued that ‘the reader’ is given ample opportunity to explore the full story.

    I also agree with Lieutenant Sam that LA Noire isn’t especially new in the way that it develops character back stories, and also in it’s linear nature. There are games like the Broken Sword series, and even Abe’s Oddysee/Exodus that have a linear plot and extensive character/world back stories; they just aren’t delivered with such panache as LA Noire.

  4. Christopher Dunning / Mar 17th, 2012 1:26 Quote

    Firstly having not read The Great Gatsby (I know shock horror, then again not a Lit student) I cannot comment on your comparisons.

    However, when you compare LA Noire to other gaming genres and series’ I must argue a similar point to that of the above comments. First I must discount that you put Fifa as a similar title due to my personal feeling that there is a complete absence of story or background there.
    Away from that gripe, I completely agree about lack of character development in shooters, though this is an intelligent move by developers as anyone who plays a shooters story to be enlightened and amazed should delete their saves.

    I also agree with your opinion of LA Noire’s linear plot line making the game more enjoyable, as it is true that without the push of having nothing else to do other than solve the case, the game would be ripe for procrastination (see any other Rockstar game, except Rockstars Table Tennis).

    When it comes to the background of Phelps however I’m at a loss at to whether I would have preferred having the information up front about his past and his present (similar to that of a standard RPG or many other mainstream titles) or given to me as it was, gradually. As I started to play Phelps as a ‘White Knight’ I discovered more things that made me feel like I was playing him ‘wrong’ as it were. I suppose however a great deal of the narratives strength comes from the realization of this information.

    Your categorization of LA Noire as an interactive novel interests me, and I may have to edit my post to include it as an afterthought. This is because I had considered it but it felt dubious due to its relatively open case direction. If for example you choose to be a reckless, spontaneous and easily bored detective your experience would be completely different to that of someone who checks every corner for clues (for example someone who missed the knife in A Marriage made in Heaven, compared to someone who searched the bin in the alley). This makes me concerned that if studied as a novel the interpretations could be broad and inconsistent depending on the person, more so than a film or standard text. This gets even worse when you compare the different directions a case can go if you ask the wrong thing or charge a different person. Though this could lead to interesting class discussions.

    I will say as a final note, in line with other comments, that other games do develop story heavily, indeed not in the same way, but most recently Final Fantasy 13 and 13-2 which use a combination of story telling and in-game data files that expand the story as much as you to (or as little as you want to).

  5. Synchiron / Mar 17th, 2012 13:30 Quote

    I agree with your comparision between Skyrim/GTA and this game, I also believe that the ability to go and do other quests and basically free-roam as much as possible is cut from L.A. Noire because, instead of you playing as a character and making them do as you wish, its making you follow the story of a character instead, perhaps in some ways like a novel, where you can only follow and not direct the protagonist in their journey.
    Your quote “their reason to be there, their objective, their motive — but LA Noire does not present that immediately”, i agree to some extent but as you play and that history becomes more apparent, it slowly plunges you into the same catagory, perhaps without even realising it. Just like the Final Fantasy games, you can customise you character and perhaps even feel that you have control over them but in reality its more like on-rail games without the rails, and you have no real control over this universe at all just like a novel or film.

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