Cole Phelps, Erstwhile Noir Hero

     I am not a video game person. The last video games I played with any consistency were Banjo-Kazooie (okay, fine, and Banjo-Tooie) and Pokemon Yellow.

Man, Did I Love This Game! Savin' Jinjos!

     That being said, L.A. Noire, Rockstar Games’s latest creation comes out today, and I so wish I had my hands on this… object of wonder right now. I know that there are a lot of fantastic, compelling video games out there right now, and have been for years, but none of them, with their zombies, apocalypses, and aliens have really captured my fancy and made me go, “Now, why don’t I have a PS3, exactly?” Noire seems different. (And IGN agrees, claiming it’s not like any game we’ve seen before, a truly new gaming experience, though one that lamentably falls flat on the compelling story-telling front, which, I’ll buy as a problem). I realize that, in reality, it may simply may not be that good or that different, and I’m probably just fueling the adage that the grass is greener on the other side, but, you’ve got to admit that there is something so primal about that feeling we’ve gotten ever since we were kids that says, when something is being sold to us, “Yes. Just, yes,” which translates to: “That really speaks to me on various levels and I feel an incomprehenible need to have it right now.” That’s how I feel right now. I fell in love with hard-boiled fiction this past semester while taking “Genre Fiction,” and there’s something so addictive about these trailers, which get me excited just imagining what it might be like to jump into one of those old jalopies and start digging for clues in what seems like an absolutely stunning recreation of 1947 Los Angeles.

   Yes, those are actaul actor’s faces. If you watch Mad Men you will immediately recognize Aaron Summers (who plays ad man Ken Cosgrove) playing (actually performing facially) the role of war hero and cop Cole Phelps here. This new technology, to me, seems like a real break-through, not because it legitamizis games (they are legit and always have been, I will not take that away from them) but because it makes me connect to them in a way I (as a lame outsider) had not been able to connect before. The faces are a bit creepy in stills, yes, but in motion, there is something so incredibly captivating about the intamacy they bring, all of sudden, to human expression in interactive games. It makes the experience feel less textureless and suddenly more… involving on a level that seems to jump out at you and say, “Future!” I think it’s so compelling that this game reaches toward the future of gaming even though this game is set in a shared cultural past of gansters and movie stars that has formed the basis for much of American literary and cinematic expression. It is such a daringly interesting marriage. This is a path Rockstar seems to be taking lately, what with two strait period, genre (but not the typical genre) games, and I really, truly appreciate them for it.

    Unfortunately, this discovery, which I am pretty sure I would love, cannot simply be experienced on Hulu or YouTube, so unless a game system falls from the sky right now, this discovery will have to be postponed indefinately. (Looks toward sky, seeing no falling game systems…) Yep, postponed indefinately. Often, our own refusal to commit emotionally to certain aspects of pop culture, something I refused to do with a show like Buffy even though it was right there at my disposal, is not the only thing keeping us from making those great pop culture discoveries that could truly transform us. Sometimes it really is all about the Benjamins — its the high cost of a magic box that opens portals to other gaming worlds for us, which is, I guess, some of the appeal of gaming, and also one of its drawbacks. Can’t afford the magic, you don’t get to go to those new worlds. Alas, Cole Phelps, I barely knew ye…