Everything’s Better in Black and White…

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(at least with L.A. Noire it is)

L.A. Noire. For the longest time all I have been mentioning about the game was it’s misleading ads, where Rockstar is making it look like it’s a PS3 exclusive. Since then, I have bought the game, and even though I’m not near finishing the story mode (currently on the second disc) I am already saying that it is turning into this year’s Red Dead Redemption.

Well, at least until RDR jumped the shark with playing as Marston’s son. I hope I don’t end up in that situation again.

The narrative is excellent, the interrogations are actually thought provoking, and just driving through what Rockstar claims to be a 90 percent recreation of 1947 Los Angeles is plain fun.

But what really wowed me in LA Noire is what we’ve been hearing about so much…the facial expressions generated by the game’s MotionScan technology. As a result, the acting is phenomenal. Note that I did not say just the voice acting, I mean the expressions shown on the character’s faces, the voices, the look in someone’s eye when you know they are lying. I never thought I’d ever see this in a game.

But while playing, I started a new case, "The White Shoe Slaying." I glanced through the game’s options, namely on the display settings. There was an option to actually play the game in black and white. Deciding to try something new I set the game to black and white, and it resulted in a whole new experience. It truly felt like I was playing a 40s-themed noir movie. I was hooked.

But I kept saying to myself I would do black and white for just one case, and then switched it back afterwards. The color setting just didn’t fit my comfort level anymore. Something about it just felt…odd.

And then it hit me. I went through something like this 25 years ago. Classic black and white movies, mainly those that lost their copyright and were considered public domain, were digitally recolored (a process obviously called Colorization.) The resulting image was not only a muddy, disorienting mess, it also obviously detracted from the director’s original vision.

While many members of the Director’s Guild of America spoke out against Colorization, even referring to it as "cultural butchering," one individual kept broadcasting colorized movies on his networks: Ted Turner. He even went as far as saying that he would go as far as colorizing Citizen Kane, which led to a massive outcry. Even the late Orson Wells (not late at the time) demanded that Turner not "deface my movie with his crayons." Eventually Turner admitted the line was a joke and never intended to colorize Citizen Kane, but what if he ended up doing so anyway?

Colorization was referred to critics Siskel and Ebert as "Hollywood’s New Vandalism," and that, along with the 3D phenomenon, I strongly agree with that statment.

While we don’t have to worry about colorization anymore in movies, playing LA Noire again in color after seeing its true beauty in black and white made me wonder if something like this will ever come about again, or will a new technology be made ready that will deface the classics we grew up with. Oh wait, we do have that…it’s called the remake.

I don’t intend to force everyone to play LA Noire in black and white like I did, but just to open your mind and see the game in a new way, and how it would be altered if the game did come out in black and white originally. In addition, I recommend doing a Youtube search for the above mentioned "Hollywood’s New Vandalism" and see what came out of the colorization madness. It is an interesting watch.

And let’s hope Ted Turner never gets involved in the game industry…

Currently Playing: Take a wild guess… (hint, it’s in black and white and NOT a PS3 exclusive!)

Waiting For: Duke Nukem Forever (360….FINALLY gone gold, though I still won’t believe it. I’m waiting to hear from Jon St. John that he will be personally delivering me a copy)

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