Behind the cars of L.A. Noire

May 20, 2011 12:00 AM

The latest video game to take the world by storm is L.A. Noire, a gritty detective drama that places you in the role of a police investigator in 1940s Los Angeles. The game's atmosphere and mood attempt to recreate old film noir dramas, and one of the key components to that is getting the looks of the cars right.

The publisher of the game, Rockstar, is famous for producing the controversial Grand Theft Auto series, which obviously features driving at its core. Yet in those games, the developers never used real brands - simply thinly-disguised knock offs with goofy fictional names. A Hummer, for example, is renamed a "Patriot." A Ferrari is dressed up as an "Infernus."

That's not the case in L.A. Noire. In order to keep things realistic, the team extensively researched nearly 100 different models from the 1930s and 1940s, all of which are drivable within the game. You'll have the chance to get behind the wheel of a classy Cadillac Series 62, the original Ford Hot Rod, an old Lincoln Continental, and many more. There's even some entries from long-defunct brands, like the Nash 600, Studebaker Champion and Phantom Corsair.

So how did the team behind the game study and model these extremely difficult to find cars? They asked Jay Leno. The late night comedian is well-known for his extensive vintage car collection, and he gave the developers access to his garage so that they perfect the look of each model in the game.

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