"In the Marine Corps, you deal with the chain of command. Mistakes get made, but you deal with 'em. You know what you're fighting for, that you're on the same team. But dealing with corruption is like chasing shadows; you never know whether the guy you're talking to is on the path, or whether it's your partner, or maybe even the Watch Commander. So who do you trust, Cole? I made up my mind a long time ago..."
L.A. Noire is a video game by Rockstar Games and Team Bondi, released on May 17, 2011 in North America and May 20 in Europe. You play as Cole Phelps, a By-the-Book Cop in 1947Los Angeles, before the freeways and the Dodgers came over. You start out as a beat cop, slowly working your way up the ranks of the LAPD and investigating crimes that range from the lurid to the disgusting to the truly bizarre.One of L.A. Noire's chief selling points is its use of innovative motion capture technology to digitize the actors' faces and expressions and put them into the game. Rather than serving as a gimmick, this is heavily incorporated into the gameplay; when you talk to people and engage in Perp Sweating, you have to read their facial expressions in order to detect unspoken emotional cues and figure out whether or not they're being honest with you, or if they're lying or hiding something.Not related to the TV Series L.A. Noir, which has since been renamed Mob City to avoid confusion to this game.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
Accidental Misnaming: In "The Driver's Seat", the first Traffic case, when introduced to Stefan Bekowski the watch commander pronounces it Berkowski. Probably an actor oversight; the in-game subtitles provide the correct name.
In "The Golden Butterfly," while Moller is being interviewed at the station, he insists that the cops should "give [him] that lie test." In Heroes, Moller's actor plays a character who is a lie detector.
This isn't the first time Michael Mc Grady has played an LAPD Detective; he was Det. Daniel Salinger in Southland.
A.K.A.-47: Averted with most of the guns, since they are long out of production, so the developers could use their real names freely.
Aluminium Christmas Trees: Many gamers when they first saw the "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign immeadiately believed it to be a case of Bland-Name Product. However, consistent with the work they've shown in making the world as historically correct as possible, the sign did read "HOLLYWOODLAND" Up until 1949 when the sign was refurbished and the "LAND" removed.
Always Murder: Subverted. One of the most memorable Traffic cases has Cole and Bekowsky investigating a doping allegation and uncovering a pornography ring at a film prop store.
Subverted even earlier in the very first Traffic case, when it's discovered the "victim" used pig's blood to commit pseudocide.
Played straight on the arson desk when a normally very boring and generally dismissed assignment suddenly becomes very exciting when Cole gets demoted to it.
Anachronism Stew: For a game that seems to get everything else so perfect, it's kind of odd that they have so many errors, though many are admitted to be intentional. In other words, the game designers have Shown Their Work, but the Rule of Cool made for a few cases of A Spot Of Weak Anachronism Broth On The Side.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: Three of the Arson cases have you playing as Jack Kelso, an insurance investigator-turned-Special D.A. investigator and one of the members of Cole's old Marine Corps unit.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Two of the preorder bonus rewards are suits, and signing up with Rockstars Social Network also nets Cole a flashy set of new clothes.
One of the other preorder bonuses is a small searchquest that gets you another suit.
Aside from Intuition Points and hidden vehicles, new suits are the main reward for gaining ranks.
Antagonist in Mourning: Roy Earle gives the eulogy at Cole's funeral, but it's subverted since he's faking it.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Cole doesn't always list a suspect's crimes in ascending order of seriousness, leading to a sometimes exact invocation of this trope.
Cole: Jose Ramos, you are under arrest on suspicion of supply narcotics, resisting arrest, and malicious destruction of LAPD property.
Well, the last thing seems pretty damn serious, actually - if not as serious as the first. Resisting arrest is the least offensive of the three but still important enough to be named in a list of crimes.
The 6th Marine Regiment never fought in Okinawa. It spent the campaign as a reserve unit. Also, several Marines from Cole and Kelso's unit refer to fighting in Peleliu, another battle the 6th Marines weren't in. In reality, both battles were fought by the 1st Marine Division.
The M1 Garand weapon fires 16 rounds before reloading in-game while in reality it held half of that.
As You Know: The guard at California Fire & Life helpfully tells Kelso where his own office is, for the benefit of the player.
The Atoner: Cole, who joined the LAPD to right his past wrongs committed in the Pacific Theater of WW2. In Okinawa, a misunderstanding led to him ordering a cave full of injured Japanese soldiers and civilians torched with flamethrowers, necessitating that they be put out of their misery with bullets.
Author Existence Failure: On October 5, 2011, in the wake of an employee working conditions scandal and facing bankruptcy, Team Bondi closed its doors.
Awesome, but Impractical: The flamethrower you find and can use in the closing moments of the last mission, mainly because of its limited range.
Don't try walking through the water with it either, as the added weight won't help you escape the rising water level.
Bad Liar: Several, though never as much as we'd all like. Frank Morgan has to take the cake, however.
Not to mention Oswald Jacobs. He looks like he ate a whole lemon.
But neither of them can top Jean Archer in the DLC Traffic Mission. Not only can she not hide any of her lies, but she even states to not knowing a James Belasco when all Cole asked if she knew a Belasco. Though after all, this mission is called A Slip of the Tongue and the achievement for getting through her interview is called "Femme Imbécile".
Also several characters in the roadside missions. At least thrice, the victims (or some redshirt-clad cops, for that matter) turn on and sometimes even subdue the robbers before Phelps arrives. Once, a criminal's escape from Phelps is cut short when a random guy just punches him flat for running across his lawn. Also, debatably, Monroe's secretary.
Bait and Switch: The flashbacks initially appear to set up Jack Kelso as a villain. He isn't.
Berserk Button: Cole apparently has one that likely relates to, naturally, withholding evidence, or corruption. Although most of the time his tough stance during interrogations seems to be controlled, at one point he threatens to break a suspect's jaw in what sounds far from his typical controlled hard-nosed spiel.
Said case involved an underage girl being drugged and taken advantage of. It was made fairly clear throughout the case that he was disgusted by the events, which is true of most cops.
Cole seems to have one for people bad-mouthing his war buddies, as demonstrated when Roy makes fun of Courtney's death and Cole goes on a rant and says he'll blow Roy's fucking head off if he says anything else about Courtney.
Biggs finally snaps with the second incinerated family. He dealt with similar issues in World War I. So did Phelps in World War II, and it was all his fault.
Big "NO!": Cole starts shouting many of these when The Intolerance set starts to collapse while he's still on it during the Quarter-Moon Murders.
Bilingual Bonus: Elsa calls Roy an Untersturmführer. Roy calls it "German gibberish", but in fact it is a hideous insult. Elsa is essentially calling him an "effingNazi", specifically an officer of the SS.
A minor one with Hogeboom, as translated from Dutch it means 'High tree', a reference to Ira's large size.
"La" is both the common abbreviation for Los Angeles and the feminine French word (and singular feminine Spanish word) for "the" while "noir" is the masculine French word for black. The developers added the extra E to Noire to make it grammatically correct by feminizing the noun.
The extra E was actually a programming mistake, but the developers kept it in because of this.
Bittersweet Ending: Cole sacrifices himself to save Elsa and Kelso, and as part of a deal struck by the Assistant DA, the charges against Cole and Jack for their vigilante hijinks in the last mission are dropped, as are Cole's adultery charges. However, the trade-off is that many of the corrupt officials involved in the Suburban Redevelopment Fund get away scot-free, and all the blame is placed on the members who either died or are going to go to jail anyway.
The Homicide desk also ends on one of these. You find and kill the murderer of all the victims, but due to being the half-brother of a powerful federal official, he can never be brought to justice and the identity of the true killer never gets released to the public. Meanwhile, the five innocent men on death row are all acquitted due to the prosecution sabotaging their own cases.
Bland-Name Product: Cola King (Though if you look at the machine you can clearly see a Coca Cola logo). Averted with the cars, all of which go by their real life make and model. You can also spy other real products (such as Kellogs Corn Flakes) in various places.
Also occurs on the radio. American Century Broadcasting uses a modified version of the NBC chimes (with a fourth chime) and Jack Benny's radio show is sponsored by "Bullseye" cigarettes, instead of the real life Lucky Strikes.
Broken Pedestal: Cole, after the affair. Everyone takes it really hard, probably because if a Golden Boy like Cole Phelps isn't above corruption, no one is.
By-the-Book Cop: Cole, but he is not afraid to bend the rules if the situation calls for it.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Phelps, in both his role as a Marine Lieutenant and as a police officer he uses both insistent terminology and a by-the-book procedure, refusing to go outside the law. However, in the former example he is a terribly ineffective commander, and the Marines only put up with him because he is their CO. He is however, an excellent police officer and as a result his partners put up with him despite their constant disagreements.
But Thou Must: Even if you screw up every interview, run over a bunch of civilians, and reduce every vehicle you touch to a pile of flaming wreckage, you'll still solve the case and eventually get promoted.
Call Back: Remember California Fire and Life, Instaheat, Keystone Films, and Elysian Fields and its "Building a Better California" ads? Yeah, they're gonna be important later on.
The Caper: The main story is partially driven by the theft of a large cache of military surplus supplies from a Navy ship by a group of former Marines. Cole becomes directly involved in solving a few minor ones throughout the game.
Casting Couch: "The Fallen Idol" , where Detective Phelps investigates into the film industry. This trope is brought up more than once and one of its victims is a fifteen-year-old girl.
Chekhov's Gun: That city freeway project you hear about in the beginning of the game? The Suburban Redevelopment Fund sets up the story's underlining conspiracy in order to get in on the action.
Every single scene in the introduction is important in later cases.
Chekhov's Gunman: Reading the newspapers littered around the game unlocks cutscenes which reveal the actions of characters who will take prominent roles in the later cases.
It's revealed that Ira Hogeboom, who appeared in one of the flashbacks, is the serial arsonist.
The very first guy you interview during your first Homicide case turns out to be the Serial Killer responsible for all the subsequent murders you investigate.
A minor yet literal example: Felix Navarro is the bus driver in "Manifest Destiny." In "A Polite Invitation", he is one of the Marines Kelso calls to raid Monroe's house.
The Conspiracy: Here's how the Suburban Redevelopment Fund scam works: the SRF buys up land that the city plans to repurchase through eminent domain for the new freeway project, burning down the house of anyone who refuses to sell. Then they put up cheap houses using substandard materials to boost the land's value, which will force the city to buy it back from them at a massively inflated price.
Cool Car: Duh, it's the '40s! Especially the special vehicles.
Cool Old Guy: In spades. Fire Chief Lynch, Dr. Carruthers, and Captain Donnelly to name a few.
Cowboy Cop: Technically not a cop, but Jack Kelso as a special investigator for the D.A. otherwise fits the role.
Criminal Mind Games: In the Homicide chapter, The Black Dahlia killer leaves a series of clues as a taunt to the police, which Phelps uses to track him down.
Da Chief: Possibly several throughout the game as Phelps moves from desk to desk, optionally to the consternation of his superiors depending on the player's interest in collateral damage management in each case.
Dark and Troubled Past: Cole is a noir hero, so naturally he has one of these (clearly foreshadowed when he repeatedly refuses to talk about his past). However, he's far from the only character with such a history.
Development Hell: Beyond the obvious fact that the game took over seven years to make, there's a literal example here. Team Bondi was by all accounts... a shitty place to work. Plus, studio head Brendan McNamara was charitably described as "a tyrant" by most of the workers.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: When interrogating Ackermann you don't get the musical cues for when you ask a question. Because the man is legitimately insane and any choice you pick will result in him responding the same.
Disc One Final Dungeon: "The Quarter-Moon Murders" case could be mistaken for a finale. It's a very literal and traditional example of this trope in the Xbox 360 version because this case is only towards the end of the second disc out of three.
Dirty Communists / Red Scare: It's the late 1940's, which means the Red Scare is starting, and many of the suspects you meet are left-leaning or anarchists, and treated like scum for that very reason. Joseph McCarthy's speeches can be heard on the radio as well.
Dirty Cop: Seemingly the entire LAPD, aside from Cole.
Dirty Old Man: 52-year old Curtis Benson, for having an affair with a 12-year old girl. When confronted by Kelso, Benson has no qualms about it.
Also, Argentinian Consul General Juan Francisco Valdez, who had many sexual liaisons with underage boys and kept explicit records of them in his notebook.
Disproportionate Retribution: June Ballard allowed her 15 year old niece to be drugged and raped by Mark Bishop, and made sure all of this was caught on film with Bishop's face in clear view so she could blackmail him later. Why? Because Mark didn't pick June as an actress in one of his upcoming movies.
Do Not Run with a Gun: Literally, the "run" button becomes the "fire" button whenever you draw your weapon.
Downer Ending: After all, the character you've been playing for X number of days in the game is killed off.
Driven to Suicide: In one of the street cases, the crazy man who believes the government is attempting to mind-control him and wears a tin-foil hat to 'counteract' the mind control. Also, in The Naked City, Dr. Stoneman after he's found out to be Mr. Henderson under a different name, and right after he seems to be willingly turning himself in.
Stoneman: What have I done? *jumps out of window*
Also it's speculated that The reason Cole didn't jump at the end was because of his guilt over what happened in Japan boiled over.
Drugs Are Bad: Most Vice cases tout this. And not only are they bad, they're worse when they're stolen; also averted to a degree during one conversation between Cole and Roy Earle in which Earle states that some amount of illegal drugs on the street is not necessarily a bad thing.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. As Cole begins solving more crimes and getting promoted, he starts taking on more high profile cases, until his affair is exposed and he is reassigned to Arson. He gets significantly crappier jobs afterwards.
Early-Bird Cameo: Every single partner you will have as a Detective, which also makes up a good chunk of the supporting cast, appear in the cutscene that preludes Cole's first case on the Traffic desk. His future Homicide partner, Rusty Galloway, is present in the first mission with his current partner at the time, Floyd Rose (who retires later, with Cole taking his place).
Cole meets a lush outside a bar while investigating a traffic case who claims to recognize him. He reappears during Cole's funeral.
Rusty: I don't care if you were clocked in the head, Cole. You don't call me Finbarr.
Every Car Is a Pinto: Semi-averted. Engines may catch fire after taking so much damage, but the only thing worse that you can do to a car is pop the wheels off or, during a chase, you can flip them. The part where you'll have to shoot the gasoline barrels in The Fallen Idol and a few other missions played it straight, though.
Exposition Break: Averted, since the game hinges on detective work. Any valuable information you need, you have to find it yourself. The game really only takes control during the intro and closing cutscenes of each case.
Expy: Several from L.A. Confidential. Cole Phelps is Edmund Exley. Both are examples of the ambitious, Glory Hound and By-the-Book Cop who have frosty relationships with other detectives. Both rely on their war records (Phelps has a Silver Star and Exley a Distinguished Service Cross from World War II) but both only got medals because they were the Sole Survivor of their respective units because of cowardice and played it up. Captain James Donnelly is Captain Dudley Smith: both of them are Irish Homicide Dicks who believe in administering "rough justice" to perps, although Donnelly doesn't turn out to be the Big Bad, unlike his film companion. Jack Vincennes and Roy Earle are both examples of a Corrupt Cop who deals with the Hollywood scene, although Earle is a plain Jerk Ass and Vincennes is a rare sympathetic dirty Cop.
Femme Fatale: Fading middle-aged actress June Ballard qualifies. Julia Randall, the victim from "The Naked City", as well. Elsa is a subversion as her initial appearances set her up as a femme fatale, and she even undergoes interrogation by Phelps, but she ends up being a loyal ally to Phelps, and even stays true to him after flirting with Jack Kelso.
Film Noir: One of the main influences on the game. It's called L.A.Noire for a reason.
Flashed Badge Hijack: A common game mechanic. Made hilarious when Kelso, an insurance investigator can pull this move on cops in a squad car.
Forgiveness: A subversion of sorts on Forgiveness Requires Death, as well. Phelps is looking for forgiveness from his unit, who never forgave him for his blunder in Okinawa. When Phelps finally asks his war buddy Kelso if he forgives him, Kelso replies that he'd forgiven him all along. This is followed by Phelps saving Kelso's life in a Heroic Sacrifice, but after he was forgiven.
Foreshadowing: the newspapers, most prominently. Each newspaper scene provides some manner of supplementary scene to a part of the plot and are all over the place chronologically, with many of them taking place in the future, explaining and detailing events that Phelps won't get background information on for some time. As a result, if the player has collected enough newspapers - and it doesn't take many - they can piece together the Suburban Redevelopment Fund conspiracy long before Phelps even suspects there is foul play going on, as well as figure out easily that they are going after red herrings at several points.
When Kelso finds a flamethrower, pictures of his old unit, and maps of the Los Angeles tunnel system when tracking down the serial arsonist.
At the beginning of the hobo's interrogation in the fourth homicide case, Cole states that the hobo got his scars from a flamethrower during the war. He also mentioned that the big guys were given flamethrower duty during the war. Throughout the newspaper cutscenes we see the story of a rather large veteran that turns out to be the serial arsonist. Guess what he did during the war.
Cole asks the watch commander about the marked map in the Traffic office, and learns about the freeway project that's still in the planning stages. The freeway construction is how Monroe and the other members of The Conspiracy plan to get rich.
During "A Slip of the Tongue", Cole mentions he likes blondes. Mrs. Phelps is a brunette...
Oddly enough, so is Elsa.
Inverted by the cutscene that plays after the closing credits, which sets up the fates of all of Phelps' Marine comrades.
Freud Was Right: In-universe, Rusty boils down ninety percent of the L.A. Homicides to this.
Rusty's Razor: If he's bangin' her, he's our killer.
Also, in lots of missions, going to some location or interrogating someone at the wrong time will mess up the mission structure, sometimes ending the mission before you got all the clues. This comes without warning and leaves you with lower scores for not guessing what order the developers had in mind.
The golden film reels are even worse, because they are often located in obscure locations like in the middle of train tunnels or random playgrounds. Without a guide you almost literally need to cover every street, back alley, and overland area of the game map to find everything.
And lets not forget finding all 95 vehicles in the game. A good amount are not even unlocked until certain missions. Also there is no other way to tell what vehicle you have already collected from what you don't and to find out you have to enter every single vehicle you come across unless you can recognize the slight detailed differences.
Averted with regards to the "Complete Edition" version of the game, which includes the bonus levels previously released for download which, as a result, are not covered in the officially published game guide.
Handshake Refusal: During the first investigation with the Arson desk, a patrolman shows a reluctance to shake Cole's hand since Cole was recently involved in a scandal after having an affair with a nightclub singer.
He Knows Too Much: After Roy sells Cole out to advance his own career and distract the public from the Vice Squad's own PR scandals, the chief of police interrupts Cole's interrogation of a suspect right as the suspect is about to confess to stealing and distributing morphine. It turns out the culprit had ties to the Suburban Redevelopment Fund, and further investigations into the morphine heist would have revealed the SRF's plans.
Historical In-Joke: "Next you'll be telling me Richard Nixon's a crook!" This is sometimes flagged as an anachronism, however in 1947 - the year this game is set - Nixon was in the midst of a high-profile campaign for election to Congress in California.
There's also a joke about 3-D movies never catching on.
Homage: A conspiracy involving a burgeoning Los Angeles' infrastructure, with a beat up private investigator solving the case? The game pays heavy homage to Chinatown and The Two Jakes, and even uses a a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Chinatown's score during the incidental music. L.A. Confidential is also referenced. Heck, it goes BEYOND homage, and basically turns into Chinatown: The Video Game!
Upon playing as Kelso, the offices of California Fire and Life bear some resemblance to the offices of Pacific All Risk.
An apologetic serial killer with an origami fascination? Sounds a lot like Heavy Rain.
A whole mess of homages to James Ellroy.
One of the apartment buildings lists an N Wolfe as one of its tenants.
Hollywood Spelling: In "The Gas Man" Phelps runs a number of names through R&I to check if any of them was convicted. Some of the names are fairly difficult, including (but not limited to): Zurick, Kellegrew, Ramon Nieves, Acevedo and Kuttner, but the operator never asks for the spelling.
I Am One of Those Too: During "The Naked City", Henry Arnett lies about having been in the 6th Marines at Okinawa to an actual 6th Marine, Cole Phelps. Phelps is understandably unimpressed.
I Can't Reach It: Sometimes, combinations of evidence could prove someone to be lying, but the game only allows you to use one to make the accusation.
I Love the Dead: Implied with Ferdinand Jamison, who is found kissing a murder victim.
I Never Said It Was Poison: In the "Slip of the Tongue" DLC, When you ask Jean Archer if she knows someone named Belasco, she replies she doesn't know James Belasco. Yeah, smart move. Incidentally, she's called dumb by every character before and after, and there's an xbox achievement for correctly interviewing her called "Femme Imbécile".
Ink-Suit Actor: The Game. This is due to the face-rendering technology used for the game's animations.
Insufferable Genius: Grosvenor McCaffrey is a big one. To a point where he flies into a violent rage towards anyone who outsmarts him.
Cole: Your vast corrupt future is draining away as we speak.
Roy: (laughs) I got better things to do than argue the rub with you.
Interface Spoiler: The second you open up your notebook on your first Traffic case, you'll see all the desk to which you'll eventually be assigned, in order. The descriptions for many of the achievements spoil the fact that you play as an Investigator at some point.
Irony: Of the "Situational" variety; Phelps excelled in the Marine Corps' Officer Candidate School while Kelso flunked out, but Kelso developed into a natural and effective leader whereas Phelps became The Neidermeyer.
It Never Gets Any Easier: A visibly disturbed Cole says this word for word after shooting Leroy Sabo at the end of "A Marriage Made in Heaven".
It Will Never Catch On: During the case "The Consul's Car", Phelps talks to Bekowsky about the U.S. Navy developing 3-D movies.
Bekowsky: That's ridiculous. You'd scare people out of the theater. Who in God's name would want that?
Although the game is set prior to the advent of the first 3-D movie craze, which died out quickly, this is also likely a reference to the modern rise of next-generation 3-D movies.
When Cole's investigation into Elysium Fields and Leland Monroe is first starting, the exasperated head of Arson says, "You'll be calling Richard Nixon a criminal next!"
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rusty Galloway comes across as brash and kind of a dick, constantly spouting misogynistic put-downs about many of the women he encounters. He also appears in some of the incidental dialogue to be a genuinely caring father, and he's remarkably tender with Michelle Moller when he and Cole have to tell her that her mother is dead.
Karma Houdini: Roy Earle, Cole's crooked Vice partner who outs Cole's affair to their superiors and the press when his idealism threatens the Vice department's crooked dealings, and works as a bagman for the Suburban Redevelopment Fund cabal, not only gets off scot-free from the whole mess, but even passes himself off as Cole's friend at his funeral, much to Elsa's outrage.
Also, it's implied that the Chief of Police manages to escape justice after making a deal with the Assistant D.A. Mickey Cohen also gets off scot free for assassinating most of the Marines involved in the morphine theft, but he's got real-life history on his side. The Mayor is implied to have escape justice with the Chief.
There can potentially be a good number of them if you manage to let a few perpetrators go free.
The game deals with a Real LifeKarma Houdini, the Black Dahlia murderer. Didn't get away with it in the game. He was killed by Cole, but his identity wasn't released because his half-brother was an influential politician.
June Ballard never seems to get hers for her role in getting her 15-year-old niece raped.
Knight Templar: Just before Cole does his first interrogation at the station, he's advised by the Homicide department's Captain James Donnelly that if he's struggling to get a confession just by questioning the suspect, it's OK to use a little violence. He is also far too happy to send criminals to the gas chamber.
Large Ham: Captain James Donnelly and Jermaine Jones, oh so much.
Laser-Guided Karma: Many of the Marines who steal military-grade morphine from a supply ship and begin selling it on the black market end up getting killed off by rival drug dealers.
Law of Conservation of Detail : Deliberately averted. Each crime scene has a number of props lying around that Cole can interact with, but do nothing to advance the case.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During Captain Donnelly's end-of-case congrats (or indeed his verbal beatdowns, depending on the outcome) he will occasionally glance to the camera, as though he were talking to the player.
Left Hanging: Two plot elements seem major but are never connected to the main storyline. One of the first suspects you bust as a patrolman (in the fistfighting tutorial) has a notebook with numbers and Dirty Cop Floyd Rose's name on it. You later take Rose's place in Homicide, but the actual notebook is never explained. Second, the Black Dahlia killer signs one of his bodies "Tex," which you later learn is the nickname of the arsonist, Ira Hogeboom. But that connection (if any) is never explained or commented upon either.
It's possible this is down to Rockstar's savage cutting down on the storyline to squeeze the game onto three discs.
Lifelines: A non-game show example. When talking to/interrogating people, you can use "intuition points" to eliminate one of the three questioning options (truth, doubt, or lie), or see what other players selected for that option, similar to the trope namer's "50/50" and "ask the audience" options.
Also applies to the vehicles, which unlike their GTA counterparts can't actually be blown up (though they can still lose their engines and, in a change, entire tires), and are generally tougher to disable. Justified because to make a car safe at the time, you'd need to build it like a tank.
Man of Wealth and Taste: Roy Earle. When first we meet him, the other characters comment on his fashion sense: "He dresses like a movie star!" He'll also complain if you should try, whilst partnered with him, to drive a vehicle that he feels is beneath his status.
Meaningful Name: Looks like Mr Leitvol in fact was the Leitwolf of the whole racket.
Most of the various outfits fall into this:
"Golden Boy": Cole's default outfit as depicted in the cover artwork (see above). This is Cole's in-game nickname and refers to his shining example of what a cop, and the LAPD as a whole, should be.
"Sword Of Justice", Cole's suit for the Homicide desk. Represents his status as a weapon of the LAPD, particularly Knight Templar Captain Donnelly.
"Sunset Strip": Cole changes into this suit when he joins the Vice squad in Hollywood.
"Outsider": Cole's suit for the Arson desk. Represents his fall from grace, specifically how all his old colleagues shun him.
"Chicago Lightning": increaces accuracy with certain weapons including the Thompson (Tommy gun), which is stereotypically associated with the Chicago mobs.
Also toyed with in regards to the "Button Man" (which gives increased ammo). The name is ostensibly a reference to mob hitmen, although you never play as a hitman.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: You can kill any bad guy (when you are able to) with no problems, however shooting a woman (who is just as guilty as the men) will cause the mission to fail or in a cut scene you will just knock her out.
Mercy Kill: Kelso kills an irretrievably insane Hogeboom.
Cole orders his men to do this to the burning Japanese civilians during the final flashback. Courtney Sheldon is also seen scrambling over a ridge to put a wounded marine out of his misery in an earlier one.
Mercy Mode: The game includes an "Action Skip" mechanic which, if you fail an action-oriented objective (like a car/foot chase or a shootout) multiple times, will skip it entirely and continue with the story. Your rating at the end of the case will not reflect this, but you obviously lose out on XP you'd have earned.
Narrator All Along: Herschel Biggs. After the opening monologue, you don't even meet him or hear him speak until after you get busted down to Arson, where he and Phelps fight against the corruption Biggs talks about in the opening monologue.
Narm: The screams Jack Kelso makes if killed during the bulldozer chase in "House of Sticks"
The Neidermeyer: Phelps is commonly seen as one by the Marines under his command.
And, in one of the flashbacks he gets shot by one of his own men, though he lives.
Newsreel: Used to showcase an important story element regarding the Suburban Redevlopment Fund.
Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers do an excellent job of not talking about the real villain, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund. The trailers also make it seem like the Black Dahlia Killer/Stuart Ackerman is the main antagonist, and the cases are not shown to be split up into desks.
Nice Hat: Considering it's a piece of Noir fiction set in the 40's, just about everyone of importance sports one. If for some reason (say, a fight) your hat should fall, you can pick it back up if it's not back on after a cutscene. There's even an achievement for winning a brawl without losing your hat.
There's even a hilarious nod to this: If Cole should lose his hat in a fight he'll pause to lament "That was a twelve-dollar hat!"
Even more dramatically Cole's leadership during the war is so poor that it winds up two of the main story arcs. Corpsman Courtney Sheldon becomes totally disgusted by Cole's rapid rise through the LAPD that he arranges the US Army ship heist. Cpl. Hogeboom gets PTSD from Cole's order to burn out a cave which turned out to be a hospital, and becomes the firebug that he chases in the Arson desk. And, as noted above, Hogeboom may have also had an unrevealed connection to the Black Dahlia murders, too.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: ...however, Cole's reassignment to arson due to said affair puts him on the trail of the serial arsonist linked to the conspiracy that is the focus of the main plot. Note that his reassignment had been partially carried out by members of the same conspiracy in order to deflect publicity from their corrupt dealings (the police officials involved were trying to distract the press from a prostitution scandal). Thank you, Roy Earle.
No Dead Body Poops: The coroner will refer to the "usual evacuation smell" while investigating one of the homicide victims' bodies.
No Export for You: A free PS3-exclusive DLC Case isn't available outside North America, for the Xbox 360 or the PS3.
No Flow in CGI: It's particularly obvious that the motion capture technology used to create facial animations can't pick up hair animations properly, so everyone has short hair that's almost entirely restricted to the top of their head. This gets particularly funny-looking with women, given that they all have the same rolled up hair style. Justified in that this was somewhat the popular hair style back then.
Noob Cave: The entire street cop section at the beginning of the game is this, which serves as nothing more than to introduce you to the game's mechanics (interrogation, crime scene investigation, and fighting). If you screw up the interrogations, you're allowed to redo them, though this is the only time you are allowed to do so since all future interrogations are one shot only.
Notice This: The piano key that plays whenever you approach a piece of evidence.
Not Me This Time: Herbert Chapman, a firebug, insists this when you meet up with him during the Arson desk. In true L.A. Noire fashion, the evidence points to him and he violently resists arrest, but later turns out not to be the guy.
Officer O'Hara: There are plenty of police officers with Irish surnames, but Capt. Donnelly of the Homicide Desk is Officer O'Hara gone retro. He has a thick (and catchy) Irish accent, calls Phelps "ludd" or "boyo", refers to criminals and the Japanese that Phelps fought against as "heathens", and calls the work at the homicide desk something along the lines of "God's work". Furthermore, he is fond of shouting and drinking on duty. Well, not that no one else is...
Off on a Technicality: Donnelly assures Cole this will happen to the innocent men arrested for the Werewolf killings during the Homicide arc.
Omniscient Database: R&I is almost never without the ability to find answers for any questions about names, addresses, or histories that Cole asks, no matter how obscure. Even better, they can almost always produce an answer within seconds. This was Lampshaded when GameSpot had a retired LAPD Detective play the game to see if it was accurate - the real R&I obviously had business hours and couldn't be rung up at 2:30 AM, and often took hours or days to get back to you. And this was in the 1980's.
Only a Flesh Wound: Jack Kelso gets one in the last two cases, as his shot up left arm never seems to bother him that much.
Can also be said of Phelps as well when he takes obvious bullet damage during gunfights but appears to shrug it off.
Optional Traffic Laws: You will never get pulled over during the normal course of events, even though you're in a non-marked police car. This is justified if use a car with a siren though (plus, you are playing a cop, after all).
Particularly evident during the Jack Kelso cases, since the same applies and Kelso isn't even a cop!
Pædo Hunt: One of the Homicide cases has a paroled child sex offender as one of the prime suspects. Despite all of the evidence pointing to the victim's husband as the killer, your captain chews you out if you don't charge the pedophile, and it's impossible to get a perfect rating if you charge the husband. Rusty even lampshades it, saying that while the husband is no threat to anyone else, the pedophile is a constant threat to a local high school and they need to get him off the streets.
But it doesn't matter either way, since it turns out neither of them were the real killer.
Politically Correct History: Averted. Racism and double standards are prevalent, with special hatred directed towards the Japanese and Germans given the war still fresh in everyone's mind. However, Phelps seems to be a man out of his time - he treats black people and women far better than his compatriots, and reflects the attitude of the 21st Century. He also expresses deeper understanding of the Japanese in the war flashbacks.
Not to say that there weren't others who supported race/gender equality back then, but if they'd been too vocal about such progressive ideas at the time, they'd most likely have been labeled Communists by everyone else. Bekowski even calls Cole's belief in equality communistic, during some of the incidental conversations.
Pop The Tires: In the car chase sequences your partner can do this if you drive into position and give him a clear shot. At the climax of one arson case you end up chasing a tram where this isn't an option.
Post-Climax Confrontation: The Suburban Redevelopment Fund is deftly derailed by Jack Kelso in the penultimate story. The finale is a matter of hunting down Dr. Fontaine's clueless patsy, rescuing the kidnapped Distressed Damsel in the process.
Even early on, Cole gets one during a profile of Hopgood during "The Fallen Idol" case, bringing up the evidence of chloral hydrate:
Cole: A fifteen year old girl told me how she was drugged and molested at a casting house, I found the chloral hydrate in your drinks cabinet. You give me something or I will break your fucking jaw, Hopgood!
Cole has one when telling off Roy for speaking ill of the late Courtney.
Cole: "He was a better man than you'll ever know. You say one more thing about him and I WILL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!"
Kelso pulls one when Cole has bought him to the police station for interrogation.
Kelso: You pick me up in front of my apartment like a common criminal and expect small talk? Fuck you.
Specifically, how "noire" is the feminine spelling of the word. I see what you did there. Bondi...
Pyrrhic Victory: The final case for the Homicide desk ends with Phelps and Galloway killing the Black Dahlia murderer, AKA Garret Mason. However, due to Mason being the half brother of a highly ranked official in the country, Donnelly tells Phelps and Galloway that the case being solved will not go public due to the implications it could bring on the other brother and the police department for locking up the wrong people. As far as the public is aware, the Black Dahlia is still at large.
R-Rated Opening: The first Homicide case immediately opens at the scene of a brutal murder, with the victim, a young, naked girl, sprawled on the street.
Reassignment Backfire: ...this merely puts him on the trail of a serial arsonist and a deeper conspiracy behind it. Note: Made worse/better by the fact that this was done by the same conspiracy in order to distract the media from an impending scandal that would reveal their dealings.
Regenerating Health: As you take damage, the sound of a beating heart and a change from color to black and white on the screen will tell you to hide for a few seconds so Cole can shrug off his bullet wounds.
This also applies to Kelso though, oddly, not the bullet wound to his arm he suffers near the end of the game.
Red Herring: Some of the clues you collect are never used to disprove a lie and there's also the bits of sometimes significant looking detritus you'll find at crime scenes.
Played straight in order to get the Roscoe and Friends achievement, during the patrol assignment "Armed and Dangerous," Cole has to drop the shotgun he automatically picks up and instead use his service revolver. It's the only time in the game he ever has the opportunity to use it.
Rousing Speech: Kelso gives one in the post-credits cutscene, declaring his ethics, an interesting contrast to Phelps who wanted to prove his ethics, but still fell for a Femme Fatale and left his family.
Rule of Cool: Aside from all the previously mentioned examples of Anachronism Stew, it rains more often in the game than it does in actual LA, usually for dramatic purposes.
Saved from Development Hell: Trailers were running for this game for at least four years before its release, and judging from the increase in "Rockstarisms" in the later trailers, it underwent many design changes.
Scare Chord: The sound that plays upon getting an interrogation question wrong.
Scenery Porn / Real Place Background: Team Bondi has been able to create a very accurate representation of late 1940s Los Angeles, and it seems that the research and attention to detail has paid off.
Here's a fun Game Within a Game: Walk Phelps down some of the real-life streets in the game, and simultaneously have the Google Street View of the same locations up on your phone or laptop. Especially in some of the largely unchanged sections of town (e.g., Hollywood), it's actually rather alarming how much of the architecture is still standing, and how accurate the in-game models of those buildings are.
Although, strangely, the reproduction of the Chinese Theatre omits the famous celebrity cement imprints.
Semper Fi: Cole was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps before joining LAPD. Flashbacks are periodically shown involving his service. Many other important characters in the story are also Marine veterans.
Sharp-Dressed Man: Every character in the game; it's the 1940's. Some of the suits are particularly notable, such as Roy's pink and gray two-tone getup (which gets lampshaded, and Mark Bishop's blood-red affair.
A number of different suits for Cole are unlocked as the game progresses, with several of them providing additional abilities.
A few cases are named after famous noir films, such as The Black Caesar and The Naked City. Additionally, a DLC case is named after the (in)famous 1930s anti-drug film, Reefer Madness.
In the Vice case "The Set Up," you enter a hotel to find that your suspect, along with may other guests, have signed in under fake names. Among the people supposedly staying there are Shirley Temple, Orson Welles, and Winston Churchill
The offices of California Fire and Life look almost exactly like the offices of Walter Neff's insurance company in Double Indemnity.
At the beginning of the Homicide case "The Silk Stocking Murder," John Marston's hat can be found in one of the garbage cans near the crime scene.
Shown Their Work: Team Bondi used hundreds of photographs and maps of 1947 Los Angeles in order to perfectly re-create the city as it existed then. The first order of business? Getting rid of LA's freeway system.
According to this news article, Team Bondi used 180,000 photos to create the map for L.A. Noire.
Show Within a Show: The game continues Rockstar's tradition of including in-game radio programming. Though not as extensive as what you'd find in any of the Grand Theft Auto games, the broadcasts include original vintage scripted radio shows, such as an episode of The Bickersons.
The Stinger: A final flashback after the credits reveals that the theft from the SS Coleridge was motivated in large part by their outrage at their hated lieutenant Cole waltzing into a plum job as a poster boy for the LAPD.
Story Overwrite: No matter what car you're currently driving, it gets replaced by your current default police car during important scenes like chases.
Thousand Origami Cranes: The opening of a case shows a man in a dark room folding origami cranes amongst many others. Later on, Phelps makes reference to this particular legend when he sees the room.
Too Dumb to Live: Doctor Fontaine seems to be able to induce this in his patients. Courtney accepting his (transparently shady) deal is possibly justified by his desperation and trust for his therapist, but what the hell did Elsa think she was doing!? She knows the man's involved in the conspiracy, and goes to confront him, alone, on his home territory, without telling anyone where she's gone, without a weapon, and she turns her back on him after telling him that she knows he's involved in getting people killed.
Tragic Hero: Cole Phelps. Survived a WW2 battle due to cowardice, and became a decorated war hero because of it since the rest of his squad were dead. Later committed (unwittingly, it's implied) a grotesque war crime and, in his panicked attempt to correct it, only made it worse. He's also abrasive and distant with his co-workers, who see him as a selfish Glory Hound (and they're not entirely wrong). What keeps Cole relatable and sympathetic is that he himself recognizes his flaws and past mistakes, is deeply haunted by them and determined to atone; sadly, he only continues the pattern of making bad choices which end up hurting innocent people.
Trailers Always Spoil: In addition to revealing the culprits of several cases, at least one trailer spoils Cole and Elsa's affair.
Trailers Always Lie: Some of the commercials and trailers make the game out to be more GTA in the 40s, rather than a slower narrative game in the vein of Heavy Rain.
Trial-and-Error Gameplay: While the game makes it so you can complete cases no matter how many questions you respond to correctly, getting a 5-star rating can feel like this due to the subjective nature of evaluating people's statements.
True Crime: All of the criminal cases you investigate are based on real crimes that occurred in 1940s Los Angeles. Additionally, a few cases pit Phelps against notorious real-life L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen.
The game provides a fictional solution to the real-life unsolved Black Dahlia case: The murderer is Garrett Mason, a bartender you meet in your first Homicide case who works as a temp at all the bars the murder victims attended. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the half-brother of a powerful federal official, so all the previous suspects are quietly released through a series of department tricks, the truth is covered up, and the original case is left open. Still a Bittersweet Ending though, since you know you've put a stop to his murder spree for good by killing him.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The Homicide desk cases pretty much fall squarely here, as it centers around the real-live unsolved Black Dahlia murders. Loosely Based On because you actually do find and stop the killer, but you can't out him to public light, due to his brother being an influential politician.
Almost all the cases in the game are based on actual crimes that occurred in L.A. in the 1940s.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Cole has a Type II relationship with most of his partners. But not so much with Earle after he sells Cole out.
Waistcoat of Style: The last unlock-able outfit is exactly this, even allowing Cole to take more damage.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In the very first tutorial mission, it is heavily implied that Detective Floyd Rose had something to do with the murder, and may have in fact framed the man who ultimately gets arrested for it. Aside from being told that he retires when Cole gets promoted to Homicide, this is never brought up again.
Unlike Cole's other partners, Ralph Dunn never shows up again after Cole's initial promotion.
In The Naked City, after Henry Arnett is arrested for conspiring in burglary, it's never shown what happens to his girlfriend, Heather, nor is there any mention of her. And that poor assistant to Stoneman...
The only SRF members not attending Cole's funeral are the D.A. and the editor of Los Angeles Times. Either they're going to jail like Monroe and Benson or they walk away free from the scandal. Your pick.
What the Hell, Hero?: Arresting Varley instead of Ryan during The Gas Man results in you being chewed out pretty badly: "How is it you can bring no less than three suspects in to the station and still manage to charge the wrong fucking guy?!"
How everyone reacts after Cole's affair with Elsa is revealed to the press.
Elsa to Cole about not asking Kelso's help but instead con him into helping them without giving him the opportunity to back out, relying on Kelso's nature to do the right thing.
Captain Donnelly will also voice his displeasure should you charge Moller instead of Rooney at the end of The Golden Butterfly.
What the Hell, Player?: Your partners will know when you're screwing around with them - like driving off without them or being a bad driver.
Wide Open Sandbox: Admittedly, the sandbox is not quite as wide open as Rockstar's other games, although there is a hell of a lot of Los Angeles that can be explored which the storyline and on-the-street crime missions otherwise never touch. There just isn't that much to do other than drive around and enjoy the scenery.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Cole revels in the trope, playing as huge contrast to the jaded veterans that he is partnered with. He believes that every case can be solved and playing by the rules is the best way to handle things. Cole's idealism is a mask to hide the fact that he was such a bad leader in World War II that he gotten many of his men killed, got shot in the back by his own men for his troubles, and accidentally fried a cave full of women and children. After Cole's fall from grace when he is caught having affairs with a singer, he starts tackling cases that need to be solved rather than solving cases just to make him look good and starts to understand that not everything can be resolved from playing by the rules.
World War I: Biggs fought in it, and had a particularly disturbing encounter with German flamethrowers during the Battle of Belleau Wood.
World War II: Cole is a veteran of it (Okinawa), like most men his age.
Wham Line: Your wife's attorney has pictures of you and the German.
What Could Have Been: The game was originally supposed to have a Burglary and Fraud Division Cole played through but were cut in the final release. Rumors were spread that they might later turn up in a DLC but that was later canceled due to other issues.
Not to mention that for the Burglary Desk it is assumed that Cole's partner would have been Harold Caldwell, seeing as they have "catching up" to do. The kicker: Harold Caldwell was voiced by Brandon Keener, a.k.a Garrus Vakarian.
World of Buxom: applies to virtually every adult female character due to the way their bodies are animated. In-game this is only acknowledged in the downloaded level "Reefer Madness" (also available in the Complete Edition version) with the appearance of a buxom secretary who flirts with Phelps at the soup factory office (and who is portrayed by a Playboy model).
Would Hit a Girl: Roy Earle, misogynist and all around scumbag, smacks Elsa Lichtmann for talking back to him (while she's grieving, no less). Jack Kelso, in a more justified moment, punches out Miss Cansino after she shoots him in the arm.
Harlan Fontaine strikes Elsa with a glass ball in an attempt to kill her.
Generally averted with regards to the suspects Cole encounters. Although he shoots dead many male suspects, he never lays a hand on any female suspects. A potential exception is in one of the optional street crime missions in which the option exists for Cole to shoot and kill a fleeing female burglar, but the case is failed if this happens.
You are Number 1247: Cole Phelp's badge number, you'll hear it whenever he makes a phone call, which is a lot
Younger than They Look: The 12 year old girl who shows up during one of the final cases has the same body model as two other teenage girls Phelps encountered before that, both of whom were over 15.
Young Future Famous People: Among other banners strung across the streets advertising movies and requesting citizens to drive safely, you also see campaign ads for a rookie congressman named Richard Nixon.
Your Cheating Heart: Which gave Cole a nasty demotion from Vice to Arson, and put him on the waiting list for a board hearing, since adultery was a crime in 1947.
In many places it still is, though it's very rarely prosecuted anymore. However, there are countries where you can be sentenced to death for it.
Zip Mode: If you delegate driving chores to your partner, a trip all the way across town can be accomplished instantaneously (after any relevant conversations have run their course). The downside to this is that you cannot locate any landmarks or street crimes unless you are driving, and there is one case where you will miss an entire line of investigation and, subsequently, a lot of clues.
Oddly enough, Jack Kelso can do this as well, even though he doesn't have a partner to delegate to.