Video game LA Noire features Mad Men's Aaron Staton
Rockstar Games’ recreate 1947 Los Angeles in latest title LA Noire
They’ve already created digital versions of gangland America in the groundbreaking Grant Theft Auto series, and of the Wild West in Red Dead Redemption, now Rockstar Games are plundering the world of hardboiled detectives and film noir for their latest release LA Noire (developed with Team Bondi). Mad Men’s Aaron Staton, who plays Ken Cosgrove in the series, steps into the shoes of Cole Phelps, an LAPD detective investigating a series of horrific murders in 1947 (many of which are based on real cases). He lends his likeness and voice to the character, and recorded over 20 hours of dialogue for Phelps. He’s not the only Mad Men alumni involved as one of the TV series’ directors, Michael Uppendahl, will also be directing cutscenes.
Many actors have lent their dulcet tones to videogames over the years, Rockstar’s own GTA titles have featured Samuel L Jackson, Burt Reynolds, James Woods, Ice T and many more. But having a star in a game – where the main avatar takes on the face, voice and characteristics of the actor in question – is a more unusual phenomenon. There are some precedents however. In 1998 Apocalypse ‘starred’ Bruce Willis, Jet Li was the lead in Rise to Honour (2004), Jean Reno was a playable character in Onimusha 3 (2005) and Andy Serkis and Anna Torv (Fringe) were both heavily involved in the motion capture process for Heavenly Sword (2007).
LA Noire takes things to the next level. It’s not just Staton’s lead character that is so lifelike. Nearly every person who appears in the game has been filmed using MotionScan facial recognition technology, which utilises 32 cameras to capture the actors from every angle.
Rockstar have also applied this level of painstaking attention to detail to the game world that features some of LA’s most iconic buildings. ‘I bought from eBay old House & Garden magazines, along with Architectural Digest, Sears catalogues and interior decorating guides from the 40s,’ explains Team Bondi Production Designer Simon Wood. ‘These were invaluable, as not only did it show you the best of how they styled their homes, but it showed you how they lived.
‘I had a checklist of which styles of architecture and colour palettes would work well with the characters Brendan [McNamara, Team Bondi Studio Head] was writing, so that their personas were reflected in their personal surroundings.’
The costumes were another element that the design team wanted to be as authentic as possible. Sourcing their outfits from Western Costume in LA (who also dressed Gone With the Wind, The Godfather, LA Confidential and Chinatown). ‘It was a cast of bloody hundreds,’ adds Woods. ‘The costume needs just kept growing and growing as the cases grew more elaborate and interwoven, but it really makes all the difference having all these different characters in the game world.’
All that work appears to have paid off LA Noire looks stunning and promises the most immersive of Rockstar’s game worlds to date.
LA Noire (Rockstar) PS3/Xbox 360 is out on Fri 20 May.