Category Archives: Video Games


I know what you’re thinking – this is a TV and radio site! Computer games?!? Aren’t they for kids??

Well, since the very earliest iterations of game entertainment, crime drama has been a central theme that’s been used time and again. During the evolution of the console era in the 1990s, so-called ‘point and click’ adventures like Police Quest and Grim Fandango kept crime fans busy solving mysteries by searching static scenes for clues and information. Slowly these games became more intricate and interactive as the hardware that drove them became more powerful – up until recent successes like Heavy Rain, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter or Sherlock Holmes : Crimes & Punishments. Similarly, the genre has found a home on mobile phones too, with countless deduction games available for the casual fan with a spare hour to kill – including new ‘interactive content’ mobile experiences like Steven Soderbergh’s recent Mosaic.

However, one game stands head and shoulders above the rest though, and it’s one that had a torturous near-decade long inception. LA Noire (recently re-released in 4K) took things to the next level – using motion capture technology to create the most realistic (at the time) facial animation of real actors including Aaron Staton (Mad Men) as the lead character Cole Phelps and his contemporary Gil McKinney (ER), who plays private detective Jack Kelso. This painstaking focus on attention to detail was not only what kept the game deep in development for so long, but also key to the game’s mechanics as a large part of your time will be spent deciding if somebody is lying or telling their truth purely by their general demeanour. The game originally premiered in 2011 with much fanfare and has since been given a lick of paint and some new content to be re-released on the current wave of next-gen consoles this year.

LA Noire is set in Los Angeles in 1947. It’s a world that is recreated with a great degree of realism from original maps and aerial reconnaissance at the time. In the initial phases, you play Cole Phelps, a greenhorn police officer fresh from the war and looking to make a name for yourself in a city on the rise. Initially starting out as a beat cop, you will feature in multiple cases and investigate crime scenes, search for clues, hustle perps, chase suspects, gather evidence and eventually try and gain a case’s closure by either a successful interrogation, a dying confession or otherwise. Cases can – and often will – go wrong and there is no guarantee you will successfully close each one. Your ability to close cases will dictate how high you can work your way through the various desks at the LAPD (each with a new and very stylish suit to unlock).

Here’s a trailer to whet the palette:

Phelps slowly cracks enough cases that he’s made a detective and lands a fledgeling seat at the Auto-Theft desk. From there, his personal life will begin to slowly seep into his work and you begin to sense there is a larger plot at play. Phelps has a dark history – played out in flashbacks – that alludes to his less than becoming conduct during WW2. This history weighs heavily on our protagonist and colours his decisions and deductions – something that will come to fruition when he finally joins the Homicide desk and becomes embroiled in the Black Dahlia Murder.

Yes, that murder. LA Noire borrows liberally from real-life cases as much as it does from LA Confidential, Chinatown, The Untouchables, The Naked City and so on. You will talk to (and in some cases, investigate) real-life stars and hoodlums of the 40s era in your daily work, and nowhere is that more apparent than in your increasingly obsessive investigation into the Black Dahlia case. It’s a complex investigation that begins to span multiple suspects and victims, each case bringing new leads and new acquittals – and further hysteria on the streets of L.A. Increasingly, the case will take you into a much darker place than you’ve ever been before – a case that will haunt your remaining days as you become increasingly suspicious of your fellow officers, former soldiers and the cold reality of justice in post-war America.

Los Angeles is lovingly recreated by the developers, and after a certain period in-play you can simply drive around the entire city in a variety of cars, picking up radio calls for minor crimes and chasing down suspects on foot if that’s your wish. In total, there are around 100 of these smaller crimes to solve alone, alongside the major crime cases you will investigate, which totals around 40. There’s plenty to enjoy in the game, not least the huge amount of recorded voice work that’s available, including some sparkling interaction between Phelps and his various partners as he slowly becomes the golden boy of the LAPD and all the glamour – and unwanted attention – that attracts. The music is perfectly realised from the era (it originally won a BAFTA for best soundtrack on its initial release), with big band, swing , jazz and sultry ballads permeating the landscape as you go about your business.

Script-wise, for any fan of noir you will sense where the story is going – and the overall plot is cut straight from the Ellroy playbook – but there is a real enjoyment to be had actually inhabiting this environment in this much detail. It’s a tale of cruel obsession at its core – for justice, for love, for redemption – that will satisfy many fans with its dramatic conclusions. To say any more would be to ruin the fun – but if you’ve never tried something like this or don’t feel interactive entertainment can provide you with a serious and mature experience, then this might be the game to change your mind.

Andy D

LA Noire is available to play on PS4/Xbox One/Switch/PC