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YMMV / L.A. Noire

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Leonard Peterson's ending where he strikes an ambiguous deal with many of the antagonists ensuring his promotion and covering up the LAPD's ties to the SRF. A lot is left open and Peterson's actions can mean he's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who never really cared about justice and just wanted to advance his career or a shrewd Guile Hero who dealt with the corruption as well as he could but knew he couldn't bring down the system. He did save Kelso's life and made sure that the corrupt officers wouldn't come back for him, but why he did that and if he did it on purpose or just used him as a bargaining chip is up to the player.
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    • Roy Earle:
      • During "Manifest Destiny", did he betray Phelps by revealing his affair with Elsa solely to get a stake in the Suburban Redevelopment fund (i.e. greed)? Or did he want revenge for the ending of "The Set-Up", with any other benefits simply being a nice bonus?
      • His speech at Phelps' funeral is also a subject of debate, as it's pretty hard to tell if he's being genuine or not.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Many gamers when they first saw the "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign immediately 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 word "LAND" was removed.
    • Also, the reference to "the gas chamber" with Edgar Kalou. Given that Cole was purposely using antisemitism at other points in the interrogation to cause the Jewish Kalou to slip up and confess, you'd think he's referencing the Holocaust. The reality though is that gas chambers were a fairly common form of capital punishment at the time in some US states, including California where the game takes place.
  • Arc Fatigue: If you figured out the plot twist that the Homicide desk has, or on a second playthrough, that part of the game drags on because of the massive amount of content that could be cut without anything ultimately changing.
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  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Jack Kelso. Everyone falls into one of two camps: either he's a total badass who was a better protagonist and more fun to play than Cole, or he's The Scrappy who derailed the last few cases of the game due to being a hypercompetent Action Hero in a Noir setting. It is hard to find a middle ground. It doesn't help that the post-credits scene reveals he knew about the Morphine bust the whole time, and could've easily stopped the WHOLE GAME'S PLOT if he had told someone about Sheldon's plan to rob the freighter.
  • Broken Base: Finding out about Cole and Elsa's affair, either showing the former's still human or an out-of-character moment that happened for the sake of the plot.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • It feels SO fucking good to run over the sexist, racist douchebag known as Roy Earle with a car. Granted, you get a Game Over if you kill him, but it still feels SO satisfying to do it.
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    • There's also the ending to the Vice case The Set Up: Roy, as well as local mafia boss Mickey Cohen and plenty of other criminals, have lost a huge amount of money betting on a boxer who was supposed to throw the fight, but refused to. At the end of the case, Cole lets the boxer leave for Europe with the money he made betting on himself, since he technically didn't do anything wrong, and Roy is not happy. Seeing Roy pissed off and knowing there's nothing he can do about it is so satisfying.
    • Mad that you couldn't arrest Marlon Hopgood for his involvement in the rape of a 15 year old girl? Don't worry! Do enough street crimes during Vice and you'll eventually catch him trying to look up women's skirts. Roy doesn't even comment on it.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Black Dahlia Killer, real name Garrett Mason, also known as the "Werewolf Killer", works as a bartender to find women to murder; carving messages into them after beating or strangling them to death and leaving their naked bodies in public places to be found. Responsible for all of the murders in the homicide cases, he frames a string of innocent men and other likely suspects for his own deeds, sending the possessions of his victims to the police to taunt them. When confronted by the heroes, he only shows shock at the duo managing to get through his deadly traps and continues to mock them over his murders.
    • "The Fallen Idol" & "Camera Obscura": Marlon Hopgood uses his prop store to lure women where he has them drugged and allows his clients to sexually violate them, while Hopgood would film these acts before selling those non-consensual porn films. One example has Hopgood arrange the 15-year old Jessica Hamilton to be raped by Mark Bishop, while Hopgood would collaborate with June Ballard in using his film to blackmail Bishop. Hopgood is later seen trying to sexually assault women himself before fleeing by car when the cops spot him, uncaring if he causes collateral damage and casualties along the way.
  • Cult Classic: While certainly not a failure as a game, it wasn't the massive success originally predicted. The game's fantastic storytelling, graphics, and use of real Hollywood actors has kept it still purchased (as well as remastered then re-released in VR in 2017) for a full decade.
  • Designated Villain: While many shootouts occur with thugs and common criminals, one case would have you mow through security guards who are just doing their jobs and possibly defending their boss from what they perceived to be pursuers with harmful intent.
  • Enjoy The Story, Skip The Game: Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the game's story, setting and character focus.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Fanfic Fuel: What happened during Phelps' time at Burglary before being promoted to Homicide, and what would happen during the Bunco/Fraud desk surely qualify as this. It's worth mentioning that for Bunco we have no information on who would possibly be Cole's partner which gives you freedom to create any character you want, while for Burglary it's implied that Harold Caldwell (a Burglary detective already existing on the game) was his partner (even then we don't really know much about Caldwell other than the fact that he and Phelps are very friendly to each other).
  • Fan Nickname: Due to how difficult it is, some have called it "Guide Dang It! The game".
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Mad Men, due to many players recognising some of the game's characters, most notably Cole Phelps himself, as familiar faces from the show.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The game has turned out to be an unexpected hit in Japan, topping local games charts. This is presumably owing more to the game's narrative-heavy structure, reminiscent of local visual novels than anything else.
  • Good Bad Bugs: It is full of glitches and weirdness. Just see this video.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The cases on the Arson desk can qualify in light of the Grenfell Tower Fire. The tower was built using substandard materials not fit for purpose and also had a faulty sprinkler system, with both of these being reminiscent of the houses the Suburban Redevelopment Fund built as part of their scam. These were two of the factors leading to the deaths of at least 80 people in the fire, with others including overcrowding, fire procedures ordering residents to stay in their rooms in the event of a fire, the tower being located in an area that was impossible for firefighters to reach until it was too late, and the fire breaking out on the lower floors meaning that residents living higher up could not escape, as it was too high for them to climb down in time, and they couldn't survive jumping down.
    • Many of Roy Earle's actions directed at suspects can be classified as this, with L.A. Noire being released just a year before several high profile incidents lead to a public discussion about police brutality in the United States. Made even harsher by Roy's pretty blatant racism towards black and Hispanic people, and the fact that many comments made by him (such as flippantly threatening to shoot a suspect if he doesn't keep "very still", or telling the driver of a paddy wagon to drive recklessly to rough up one suspect) concern black suspects.
    • "The Fallen Idol" deals a lot with sexual assault rampant in the movie industry with one of the questioned victims being a young girl who was drugged and raped. With the #MeToo movement, this case in particular can get a bit too real with reminding the knowledgeable players about the likes of Harvey Weinstein or any other similar public figures who were accused of doing similar things.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: On a crime-themed work set in USA, one of two police inspectors investigating homicides is a misogynist, alcoholic Cowboy Cop. Are we talking about Finbarr "Rusty" Galloway from L.A. Noire or Martin Hart from True Detective' first season? The other cop of True Detective is named Rustin Cohle; Galloway is frequently nicknamed "Rusty" while his partner is named Cole Phelps. Also, Galloway actually looks a bit like Hart's actor (Woody Harrelson).
  • Ho Yay: Courtney and Dr. Fontaine's relationship seems to have hints of this, but only hints.
  • Hype Backlash: The initial previews and reviews for the game seemed to indicate it would be a solid contender for Game of the Year on several websites, but increasing complaints by players about the somewhat underdeveloped romance between Cole and Elsa, the sudden switch to Jack Kelso as the player character in the endgame, and the revelation that almost all of the DLC is actually cut content may undercut this prediction a fair bit.
  • Iron Woobie: Cole Phelps, especially after being exposed as an adulterer and giving his life to save Elsa and Jack.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: Some have argued that the gunplay being overly simplified (compared to GTA and Red Dead Redemption) makes the shoot out scenes either this, or frustratingly unpolished. It gets really noticeable near the end of the game when things start going crazy.
  • It Was His Sled: The Black Dahlia killer is Garrett Mason. Cole Phelps dies and Jack Kelso becomes the new main character, even prior to Cole's death.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Herschel Biggs.
  • Love to Hate: Roy Earle. He is a sexist, racist Jerkass sleaze of a cop who would gladly sell his partner out and benefit from his misery. That doesn't stop players from enjoying his appearances, since he is also the biggest Deadpan Snarker in the game and a lot of his dialogue is hilarious.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Jack Kelso was a marine whose inspiring charisma earned him the respect of his allies and rivals. Returning home after World War II ended, Jack's loyalty to his men causes him not to report on them when they decide to steal the surplus morphine in the SS Coolridge. This sense of loyalty carries on in Los Angeles when he ambushes Mickey Cohen to get him to back down on them and refuses to rat them out to Cole Phelps when he demanded answers. When hired by Elsa Litchmann to investigate her friend's death, Jack figures out the corrupted motivation behind the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and orchestrates a raid on its leader Leland Monroe, before putting Monroe under his mercy and dismantling his plans. With his willingness to bend the rules contrasting with Cole's more procedural methods, Jack Kelso proves to be an invaluable ally to Cole despite acknowledging that they weren't friends.
    • "The Set Up": Albert Hammond is a cunning boxer who would turn against his manager, Carlo Arquero, when he tries to bribe Hammond to loose the next match. Exploiting the many people betting against him while placing several bets on himself, Hammond calculated that he would make over $11,000 if he won the fight, before following through with his plan. Going into hiding after winning the fight, Hammond has his girlfriend, Candy Edwards, collect his winnings at various bookmakers before covertly taking the winnings from Candy. He later confronts Arquero and learns that he killed Candy. Cole Phelps and Roy Earle end up saving Hammond, with the former deciding to let Hammond leave with his winnings, sympathizing with his struggles and impressed that he was able to swindle all of Los Angeles.
    • "A Polite Invitation" & "A Different Kind of War": Leonard Petersen is the Assistant District Attorney of Los Angeles who is trying to get elected to the District Attorney office. Painting himself as an ambitious crusader against corruption to support his election campaign, Petersen rcruits Jack Kelso as his investigator, letting him look into the Suburban Redevelopment Fund. Upon learning of the corruption behind the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and among those involved including the mayor and police chief, Petersen uses his findings to leverage a deal, promising to keep quiet about their involvements if they give him his desired position.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misblamed: People blamed Nintendo for a "Switch tax" for the Nintendo Switch version of the game being full retail price, when Rockstar Games are the ones in charge of the publishing and set the price for the game.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The game has a lot of deplorable people whose actions have definitely crossed the line, but these few moments, in particular, stand out:
    • The Werewolf Killer pole vaults over it with every gruesome murder that they committed, starting with Elizabeth Short.
    • Harlan Fontaine crossed it when he murders his protegee Courtney Sheldon, something that even disturbs Leland Monroe.
    • Roy Earle selling Cole out, causing Cole's image, career and family life to crash and burn.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The clunking piano music you are rewarded with for making a successful accusation, as well as the sound of your XP bar filling.
    • The sound that plays when you've discovered all the clues on a scene.
  • Narm:
    • Fail the DLC Traffic case, "A Slip Of The Tongue". It's worth it, just to see the normally cool Captain Leary scream "DA CHIEF'S GOT MY BALLS IN A FRYING PAN!" and kick a bucket at Cole as he and Bekowsky make themselves scarce. Can be witnessed here in all its glory.
    • Thanks to the gameplay mechanic that allows the player tell if a person is lying via facial expressions and body language a lot of the interrogations and questioning come off as pretty ridiculous due to the facial expressions and body language being incredibly obvious, especially since the same signs tend to repeat.
    • Some characters' reaction to hearing that their loved one got killed almost falls into Angst? What Angst? category. They might cry for all of three seconds before pulling themselves together.
    • The screams Jack Kelso makes if killed during the bulldozer chase in "House of Sticks".
  • Player Punch: After spending most of the game hearing random passersby recognizing you as "that hero cop from the news" it tends to hit hard when they instead start recognizing you as "that dirty cop" once you get demoted to Arson.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Jack Kelso, who the writers seemed enamored with enough to make him pretty much subsume Cole's role in the story.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Many people have taken issue with the hyper-sensitive driving controls. Regardless of whether or not it's a problem, it's a definite polar opposite to the car handling in GTA IV. Hilarious to watch, regardless.
    • Also, Cole's ridiculous overreactions to "doubting" peoples' testimonies, and inability to retract "lies" but not "doubts" (which one sounds like you should be able to back out of?). If he accuses the interviewee of lying and reverts the decision, he ends up looking foolish and defeatist (but it's a valid tactic to make sure "lie" is not the right answer because you suffer no penalty for it). It makes him look like a Good Cop/Bad Cop duo all by himself. The Rabid Cop side in particular became a source of Memetic Mutation hours after the game released.
    • Killing a perp with a human shield is nigh impossible compared to GTAIV. It's not uncommon for them to duck several of Cole's bullets before plugging their hostage.
    • The Foot Chases are quite bad given that trim, fit Phelps is one of the slowest men in Los Angeles. In some instances, he will be outrun by men twice his age until a scripted event intervenes. In terms of the gameplay, this is a result of the sprint function being revised; button mashing now only works when you're close enough to tackle a suspect. If you've played other Rockstar titles, though, you will find yourself being outdistanced at the beginning of a chase because said tackle button is located where the main sprint button was in GTA and Red Dead Redemption, while sprinting itself has been moved to a trigger.
    • Similarly, car chases: they're obviously scripted for the most part, with chased cars accelerating unusually fast and turning so unnaturally as if they were pulled by an invisible string. This would be more believable if you were chasing sports cars, but some of the chases involve pickup trucks, which are normally some of the slowest vehicles in the game!
  • Signature Scene: The shoot out on the set of Intolerance is one of the most remembered scenes from the game.
  • Spiritual Adaptation:
  • Strangled by the Red String: Some fans don't take the lack of relationship development between Cole and Elsa well.
  • Squick: In abundance throughout the game, such as the Homicide cases, which heavily mimic the gruesome real life Black Dahlia murders, but especially during the Arson case 'A Walk in Elysian Fields' when Mr. Morelli's severely burnt corpse breaks apart. It even freaks out WWI vet Herschel Biggs.
    • The culmination of the Homicide cases has you bust into a room of the Werewolf killer. There's a bathtub with inside covered in blood and flesh. If you're familiar with history, this was probably the place where the killer cut Elizabeth Short in half. Needless to say, Rusty finds it as gross as you probably will.
    • 'The Fallen Idol' has you require finding a camera used for recording pornography for Casting Couch purposes hidden behind a one-way mirror, with pictures of girls captured littered around the wall by it. The most recent subject was underage, and the caster is implied to have certainly committed statutory rape numerous times before, likely using the very same room. While that is unsettling enough, optional additional searching around will reveal a room that shows the mirror in the dressing room's bathroom is also one-way...
    • Ferdinand Jamison is heavily implied to be an example of I Love the Dead, having been found kissing a murder victim. He sees nothing wrong with it when interviewed, and mentions having friends with similar views somehow before Rusty's violent assertions of disgust toward Jamison's opinion cuts him off from elaborating. Carruthers later mentions having fired an assistant who turned out to be a friend of Jamison. Carruthers' job is The Coroner. Needless to say, Carruthers himself mentions "who knows what he could have gotten up to!?"
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: The Depth Analysis and Motion Capture technology that was used to create the characters was certainly innovative when the game released back in 2011. However it had many limitations, some of which resulted in bizarre looking animations.
    • The faces of the people in the game are the actual faces of their voice actors generated into 3D meshes that change to mimic their movements. While this gives a nice textured look to the characters' faces, it made having characters with flowing hair impossible, and their mouths ironically lack depth due to the cameras having a more difficult time seeing anything behind the lips.
    • You'll occasionally see NPCs talking to themselves in a very realistic manner, or hurling anger and insults (or flirting) at Cole for no particular reason. These moments can be very jarring depending on the context.
    • The motion capture for the rest of the body doesn't seem to be as sophisticated as it is for the face (example - the hands are pretty static and don't move until it's necessary, like picking up a piece of evidence), which doesn't fit very well with the comparatively detailed animation for the faces in particular.
    • The skin of everyone is incredibly smooth, and oddly shiny sometimes. This is in sharp contrast to the otherwise realistic facial features.
    • It also seemed to have trouble capturing eyes/wrinkled skin. Case in point, John Noble.
    • It can also terrify if you figure out the trick - mainly that they can only animate one face in a shot. It's painfully obvious with the camera angles, only one person talking at a time and the numb expression of your partner doing an interrogation.
    • You can view all of its glory here.
    • The PC version has some additional issues: because the faces have to be animated well for the interrogation sequences, if the video quality is set to low, you get detailed, well-animated faces on incredibly ugly character models. The effect is disconcerting at best.
    • It doesn't take long to notice that all men walk and move exactly the same way, even in sync sometimes.
    • Due to how the facial motion-capture technology works, with enough playtime, you might notice how the models work, especially the teeth. It looks like the teeth are just modeled onto their faces, rather than being inside their mouths.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The 6th Marines and Courtney in particular can end up as this thanks to the epilogue; they badmouth Cole for being sent home and ending up a successful, commended detective and elect to carry out the morphine robbery to make something of themselves; this is a decision made after Courtney shot Cole in the back, meaning the medic only has himself to blame. Their decision also causes most of the problems that befall them during Vice.
    • Alternatively, it can be inferred that, though the deaths of those that do perish, such as Courtney Sheldon, are unfortunate, the group is not meant to be truly sympathetic at all. Despite Kelso's warning and urging them not to go through with the robbery, they do so anyway, and are simply reaping the natural consequences of their actions, as should have been expected by more reasonable people.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The new motion capture technology used in this game is put to good use in cutscenes. The detailed facial expressions can make you think you're watching a Live Action movie rather than playing a game.
    • The tech is designed with the gameplay in mind, having players determine how truthful suspects are during questioning via facial expressions and body language.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: In the flashback following "The Golden Butterfly", Phelps drops a remark that many find to be political shoehorning, not realizing that it's actually Aluminum Christmas Trees;
    Phelps: Do you know why we are fighting the Japanese, Private?
    Private: With respect, sir, these bastards attacked Pearl Harbor.
    Phelps: And why did they attack Pearl, Private?
    Private: Because they hate the US of A and our way of life.
    Phelps: They attacked the US because we cut off their oil. What would we do if another country denied us the gas to run our cars?
    • His failure to mention the reasons for the embargonote  can be seen as this, however.
  • The Woobie:
    • Elsa, a refugee from Nazi Germany and a morphine addict.
    • Ira Hogeboom, who was overwhelm with guilt for burning a makeshift hospital full of Japanese civilians and driven mad by it. He is then driven further into insanity when Dr. Fontaine makes him an Unwitting Pawn in his schemes.
    • Evelyn Summers, the Black Dahlia killer's last victim. Having lost her job as a copyright department worker when the film studio she worked for shuttered, Summers isolated herself from her family (who tried persuading her to go for treatment) and was divorced by her husband shortly after, leaving her as a destitute alcoholic. She made friends with James Tiernan and Grosvenor Mc Caffrey, unaware of the latter's hatred of her. After she caused an argument with the two by taking McCaffrey's book the night before her death, she was unable to reconcile with them even after buying Tiernan whiskey. Cole sums up Summers' situation by calling her "a sad lady who never hurt anyone except herself".

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