by David Downs
Get back to marijuana prohibition's roots July 12 with "Reefer Madness", a new piece of downloadable content for the addictive new Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 detective game L.A. Noire.
Crafted by Australian videogame-makers Team Bondi and released by Grand Theft Auto-creators Rockstar Games, L.A. Noire puts players in the gumshoes of Los Angeles detective Cole Phelps, circa 1947. Solve crimes without too much collateral damage and Phelps works his way up from the Patrol desk to Traffic to Homicide, Vice, and Arson.
What could have been just another re-skin of GTA ends up being probably the best game of the year, thanks to intensely real crime scenes, and high-definition facial motion capture technology. Yes, there's gun fights and car chases, but the game hinges on Phelps' ability to interrogate suspects. Accurately detect fabulists, and cases solve themselves. Brute force your way through interviews, and suspects clam up and ask for a lawyer.
One of the best desks is Vice, which takes Cole into the heart of the drug underworld of the 1940s, where, just like today, narcotics detectives don't so much as enforce prohibition as manage demand for drugs. It's a street-level form of Realpolitik that quietly runs our world and is best evinced by sleazy Vice desk partner Roy Earle's line: "Every politician is against prostitution, when they're not seeing prostitutes."
Beginning this week and continuing through the summer months, Rockstar says they're releasing several stand-alone cases, collectibles and challenges via PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE. The L.A. Noire Rockstar Pass for $9.99 on PlayStation Network and 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox LIVE gives you all of it, including two brand new cases: The "Nicholson Electroplating" Arson case (coming June 21st) and the "Reefer Madness" Vice case (coming July 12th).