I've been replaying through LA Noire for the past couple of weeks and I completed the game yesterday. It's a lot better than I remember it being, but it seems like that's because I'm better at playing it. I think it's funny that your second experience with something can be so different than your first. After a couple of years have past, I'll be sure to play Gone Home again.
I really love Cole's character, because he's so real. He's not a silent protagonist who always does good; he has problems and he makes mistakes, and he tries really hard to learn from those mistakes.
If you haven't played the game and have an interest in playing it, I would advise you skip the next few paragraphs because I'll be explaining what happens to him.
When you first begin, Cole is just a beat cop with a lot of ambition. He doesn't want to be happy where he is, because he knows that there's something higher. It's this desire to climb that I relate to with Cole very well on. Cole has had this desire since the war, when he's playing through his head the kind of officer he wants to be. When Cole was in the marines, he didn't know at what cost success would be at.
He still aims to be successful in the police department. He might realize what happened in the war was bad, but the police department doesn't have that kind of weight. Or so he thinks, anyway.
Cole forms peculiar relationships with all of his partners and each one goes through an evolution of they treat each other. Something in common with all of his partners though, is that they all don't like him at first. They see him as a know it all, an up and comer, a do-no-bad kind of guy. With Rusty, they have a difficult time settling their differences. Rusty is short sighted, drinks on the job, and only looks for the shortest possible explanation. Cole sees this, and he points it out to Rusty frequently.
Which is one of Cole's biggest problems. He openly expresses what he thinks they do wrong. A lot of the dialogue between Cole and Rusty was Cole giving him a hard time. The same goes with Roy Earle. And Cole wasn't wrong. He had every right to give these two a hard time. But he doesn't see voicing that opinion gets him no where. In fact, he doesn't see how voicing that opinion actually distances his partners from him, makes them hate him. Eventually, Rusty develops a professional respect for Cole, because he sees how good Cole does his job.
But see, that's a different kind of 'like'. Rusty might respect his work, but that doesn't mean that he wants to have a drink with him at a bar. Which is where Cole falls surprising short. He has a difficult time forming real relationships with people. When he was on traffic, he picks up a prop shrunken head and makes a comical Hamlet reference. He laughs lightly afterward, because he was trying to be amiable to the coroner. But Mal, the coroner, doesn't laugh. When Cole make that Hamlet reference with the fake head, he was trying to be cute; he was trying to make himself funny to the coroner. He reached outside of seriousness to be a friend, but it's not returned. And that's one of Cole's problems. He wants to be liked, but he has a hard time.
Cole later goes on to commend Mal's work, acknowledging him as a real professional and a man of good work. Mal returns this respect, but that's all it is. Professional respect. Not a mutual friendship.
This is a small portion of the things I saw in Cole's character. I've put all of these things together, and they hold up pretty well. Something I get stuck on though, is how much of this was intentional. I wouldn't be able to create a character as full as Cole is, and I can't help but wonder if the writers for Cole could either.
What I get stuck on is how we experience characters or plots. When I first played LA Noire, I didn't see much in Cole. He was interesting and he had problems, but it wasn't until I played it for the second time that I really realized how real he was. But what if when the creators were writing him, they only had that 'interesting but with problems' in mind. They didn't actually put in all of this depth of relationship forming into their minds; it's just something that happened.
It's not as though I can say what I see is truthful, especially when the writers didn't intend for that.
So I end up stuck. When a writer writes a meaningful song, if someone else comes up and offers a different explanation, which is just as supported by the lyrics, how can we say who is right?
And if a song writer doesn't have a meaning behind it, but someone gets one anyway, does that mean he's right? Or is the song just meant to be meaningless and nothing more.
It's this tremendous gray area, one I don't know how to handle.
Save The Date, a free PC game, asks this question as well. Except it asks me, directly. And I didn't know how to respond then either.
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