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January 14, 2008 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Police procedural/gumshoe, sandbox games?

I was watching LA Confidential for the Nth time over the weekend, and have recently finished a couple of other Ellroy books. Then, while playing GTA San Andreas, I started to wonder if there were any decent, sandbox, 1950's themed cop/private investigator games out there.

I've got an xBox and a Mac, and will soon be upgrading to an xBox 360, but if there's a good PC game out there that would run on Windows on a Macbook, I'd be willing to go get a license.

So, to summarise -

sandboxy or at least with an explorable setting that's not totally linear.

1950's themed

Ideally console-based

Playing the 'good guys' rather than gang/criminal based, although I'd also be interested in being on the wrong side of the law if it's a game with the flexibility and enjoyment of the GTA series.

Could be FPS, more likely to be 3rd person (or even isometric, if there's a strategy/team management aspect).

posted by Happy Dave to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
L.A. Noire isn't out yet, but appears to be what you are looking for.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 9:19 AM on January 14, 2008

I know you are looking for newer games, but there are tons of old-school adventure games that fit your description. One of my presonal favorites is Deja Vu.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:46 AM on January 14, 2008

If you are interested in a humorous/parody take on the genre, you should check out Sam and Max: Freelance Police (http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax).

I also second the Deja Vu games if you can find them- I adored the first one on the NES.

The point and click games don't have the complete freedom you get in a GTA (especially the older ones- systems didn't have the power to support it, for one thing) but they do give you a non-linear environment that you can investigate and explore at your own pace, as well as fun detectivey puzzley goodness.
posted by oblique red at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2008

I love the P.I. / noir genre to death, and it breaks my heart to see that there's not many games out there dealing with it.

I know you're digging the 1950s, but the best sandbox-esque noir-ish game you'll find on the market today is Mafia. In every "top 100 games of all time," it's always there--and rightfully so. An absolute classic, though it is based in the 1930s and you play the bad guys. Also, I heard the X-Box version was inferior. It is a great game though :D

As far as PI games go, I'd second Deja Vu; I had it for the NES with full color and a fantastic 8-bit noir soundtrack. From the halcyon days of 8-CD interactive adventure gaming, there's the Tex Murphy games, though they're set in the future. More Blade Runner than L.A. Confidential, I'm afraid.

Finally, I've recently played through Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the Nintendo DS; calling it a P.I. game would be a great stretch, but it does have that getting-to-the-bottom-of-this-mess vibe.

On a side note, I just played through The Shivah, where the protagonist is a disenchanted Rabbi digging to get to the bottom of a cold-blooded crime. It only takes about 2 hours to play, but man was that fun.
posted by BenzeneChile at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2008

The Police Quest series might also be a good fit. The stories are linear much like DejaVu but you're given room to explore around for clues at your own pace. (Blue Force is another game with the same Sierra point-and-click style)
posted by samsara at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2008

Nvm, those aren't very 1950's.
posted by samsara at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2008

Grim Fandango? It's a very good game, hours of fun.
posted by WPW at 1:22 PM on January 14, 2008

Thanks for the suggestions folks - L.A. Noire looks like the absolute ticket, though there's conflicting reports on whether it's PS3 only or will also be on the 360 - fingers crossed!

I remember Grim Fandango, and loved it, and a few of the older point n' click adventures may be a good stopgap until LA Noire turns up - I'll also look into Mafia, which I heard conflicting reports about when it was released, but might be worth throwing a tenner on second hand.

Cheers again!
posted by Happy Dave at 12:58 AM on January 15, 2008

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