Chief among the laundry list of things L.A. Noire does exceptionally well is the character of Cole Phelps. I suppose one could argue that he’s one-dimensional, but the characters surrounding Cole certainly make up for what he lacks in certain areas. For the first time in recent memory I saw a little bit of myself in a video game character, and that’s a huge step in the right direction.
Cole Phelps is a very morally grounded person. I like to fancy myself in the same vein, although I wonder if I would have what it takes to hold myself to my own standards in only one of the situations he’s put in every single day. It has to be damn tough to stick to a belief system when practically everyone around you works – on purpose – against it. That’s pretty much the lay of the land as I see it in L.A. Noire. Cole is an idealist while it seems the rest of the world has figured out how to not make waves.
Cole goes through several partners in the game, and it’s increasingly apparent that most of the cops on the force don’t care much for serving the public. They all have their own ways of dealing with the give-and-take of corruption versus justice, but in the end they’re all content to just do their thing and go home. Not so with Cole. He has empathy and compassion for people on a much higher scale than those immediately surrounding him. Multiple times throughout the game, he espouses his moral groundings to his partners. Usually they dismiss him as either uptight or “green.” Of course, Cole doesn’t really care about labels others put on him, and he’s more than capable of defending his thoughts and actions.
How does that tie in to myself? Well, we both have similar basic moral codes, for one, and we’re both not ashamed or afraid of voicing our beliefs. I like to think I take into consideration the practical applications of my worldview, but I would also have to call myself an idealist. As Cole goes from case to case, plenty of people remark on his idealism, but you know what? He’s a damn good detective and he gets the job done. He, as well as I, couldn’t care less if people think less of him because of his willingness to follow his conscience. The simple fact that I can talk about a video game character in relation to myself in this way shows me that Rockstar has done something pretty remarkable with L.A. Noire.
 – Holy crap, was I wrong about this one. More incoming.