Sunday, August 18, 2019

Detective Work - LA Noire - Finale

At last, we arrived at the end of Cole Phelps's career as an LAPD detective and the game. With it, we fully uncover the extent of the conspiracy that's been unraveling ever since his fall from grace, into the cold, uncaring arms of the Arson desk.

Between him and his former comrade-in-arms, Jack Kelso, it seems all but assured that those responsible for the fires and murders will be brought to justice. How will they do it? With some good ol'-fashioned Detective Work, we'll find out.

As depressing as it is, and as sour as I was on it when I first beat the game, I think the way they chose to end it was fitting for the kind of story that was being told. Throughout the game, and especially towards the back half, we are confronted by corruption and manipulation from within the very institution that is designed to enforce those laws. No matter what happens, the system will do whatever it takes to protect itself.

So what would they do when they see that an Assistant DA, his investigator, and a rogue cop are about to nail them: They cut a deal to sell out their co-conspirators. It's no coincidence that the game ends with Roy Earle conducting the eulogy at Cole's funeral. He is the game's greatest personification of the police's corruption, indulgence, and violent tendencies. The choice was made to hammer in the fact that although Jack succeeded at uncovering the conspiracy, the world marches on largely unfettered.

Similarly, it makes sense to kill off Cole Phelps. In a metaphorical sense, he was already a dead man walking. For someone who wanted nothing more than to prove that they were worthy of the praise that had been heaped on to them in the war, there was nothing worse than to be paraded across the papers, charged with adultery, and transformed into a pariah. His life was already over, and the revelation that his order is what started the arsonist's path to become the monster Doctor Fontaine turned him into, he was at an all time low. It is only in death that he was able to salvage what was left of his reputation.

Despite how terrible the working conditions were, and coming out well before the Telltale Adventure Game renaissance, LA Noire is a solid game and story. It was fun going back to it one more time.

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