Thursday, May 19, 2011

L.A. Noire and literature

I started playing L.A. Noire last night and literally, for the first (extended) time, I forgot I was playing a video game. Extended meaning for as long as a typical movie experience plays. This happened to me occasionally during Read Dead Redemption, but not for longer than 10-20 minutes. L.A. Noire is that convincing; the voice acting is movie-grade and the new face rendering technique gives the characters nearly naturalistic in-game expressions and features. Cut scenes blend into action scenes with almost no interruption. That lag or blackout between cut scenes and action has always been a huge drawback to narrative within games. Only after 3 hours of playing, I felt emotionally invested in the main character and that says a lot for the power of the plot.

And now Rockstar (Games) has published a collection of short stories tied in with the game's theme. The writers include Joyce Carol Oates and Francine Prose. Weird, right? I'm sure it's appropriately pulpy and fun, but will L.A. Noire be the game that finally draws more literary writers to the medium? I sure hope so.

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