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YMMV / L.A. Noire

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  • Alternate 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.
    • Roy Earle's speech at Phelps' funeral is also subject of debate as it's pretty hard to tell if he's being genuine or not.
  • 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.
    • More recent reviews of the game have suggested that the cases and the final twist serve important lessons in the nature of the LAPD, even before it is laid bare during Vice and Arson; Donnelly, after all, begins to show distinct favouritism and biases during these cases, praising Cole if he chooses suspects more to his liking, essentially exposing his Knight Templar characterisation as a farce; the immense cover-up of the Werewolf/Black Dahlia Killer in itself is also a huge indicator the LAPD's morality is somewhat off.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: The Updated Re-release recontextualizes the "Truth, Doubt, Lie" system into a "Good Cop, Bad Cop, Accuse" one, making it more clear that Cole is deliberately playing a one-man Good Cop/Bad Cop interrogation, whereas before, picking "Doubt" made Cole look like a Mood-Swinger who would fly off the handle at the slightest suspicion that someone's lying.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Base-Breaking Character: 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. There are no exceptions.
    • 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 being the point he becomes unlikable.
  • 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.
    • There's also the ending to the Vice case The Set Up: Roy, as well as local mofia 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.
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    • 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.
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  • 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: All of Cole's partners have a pretty large fanbase. Yes, even Roy Earle.
  • 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).
  • Fridge Brilliance: Cole was a sub-par lieutenant throughout all his time in the Marines, but it doesn't take long for him to prove himself as the best case man in the LAPD. Makes sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, his poor leadership skills don't matter as much when he's only working with one other person. Second, Cole's problem in the Marines was that he was a stickler for rules and regulation, and always doing this a certain way, which became a problem whenever his plans went awry and he still demanded that they be adhered to. His more analytical and slow-and-steady approach to matters would be much more fitting for police work than on a battlefield.
    • Why is there an E on the end of the word "Noire" in the title? Because "Noir" is a French word meaning "black", and French has both a masculine and feminine case. "Le noir" is the male version of saying "the black" (i.e. the black table), but if it's feminine, one says "la noire". The title is just being grammatically correct.
    • How is it that Cole is familiar with the trade embargo against Japan, and can speak some Japanese? It's mentioned that his family owns a shipping company, so it would be natural that he'd be familiar with such things if he was meant to join the family business.
  • Fridge Horror: The public will never know about the real serial killer who murdered all those women, but at least those innocent men Phelps arrested are let loose with a few technicalities so all is right, correct? That is, until you realize that those innocents did not have their names cleared, and will always be viewed as murderers.
    • Specifically, the Golden Butterfly case. The public clearly wants you to charge Eli Rooney, a local pedophile, over the victim's husband despite the fact there is overwhelming evidence against the latter. Many players do indeed go against the LAPD's wishes and convict the husband, Moller. However, this unsung hero path is eventually revealed to be pretty devastating: you lose the opportunity to lock up a dangerous pedophile while ruining an innocent man's life with a permanently tarnished record.
    • In addition, while none of the suspects are as bad as 'The Werewolf' some are very dangerous and unstable individuals. Rooney the pedophile, MacCaffrey the man with a history of violence toward women and clearly unrepentant if pressed about it, Stuart Ackerman the violent and deranged hobo that has claimed to have killed numerous women before. All people that will get released into the public again.
    • Elsa says Cole convinced her to fight her morphine addiction. But he died by the game's end. And the last time she had someone close to her die, in her first appearance, you could clearly see her taking morphine to deal with her grief (albeit administered by Fontaine). Cole's death could drive her back to her addiction again!
    • During the war, the Marines had to deal with their enemy being holed up in caves and possibly being on their backs, preventing them from just moving past them. Cole insisted on having his unit clear out caves as ordered, while Jack instead had them sealed with demolition charges. The one in seen in a flashback with Cole ordering Ira to burn it out with his flamethrower turns out to be a cave full of civilians, which undoubtedly messed up Ira upon his realization of it. That being said, Jack's lead being followed means that cave full of civilians and other soldiers dying trapped and likely no one bothering to realize they were ever there... hardly a better prospective end.
    • Cole's death is played off as a Heroic Sacrifice, but consider everything that's happened to him over the course of the game. His life and his career has more or less been irreversibly shattered. His infidelity with Elsa costs him his family and the respect of the majority of his colleagues. The police force he dedicated himself to has been revealed to be near-universally in the villain's pocket. He's already aware that the morphine heist that drove the second act was a direct result of his cowardice in Okinawa. And he's just discovered that the crazed arsonist he's been pursuing throughout the endgame was in fact the soldier he traumatized by forcing him to torch a cave that turned out to be full of innocent civilians, meaning that he is indirectly responsible for everyone who died from the Suburban Redevelopment Fund's scheming. With all this in mind, it doesn't take a lot of effort to see his death as Suicide By Water.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Plot: The Homicide desk. Hoo boy. About half a dozen women all found dead in the exact same unusual circumstances, some with messages clearly meant to taunt the police, and it isn't until the penultimate case that anyone seriously entertains the idea that there's a serial killer. It's somewhat justified by Captain Donnelly being a borderline Knight Templar obsessed with delivering swift retribution, but it's still jarring.
    • However, Phelps does uncover more than enough evidence to charge the suspects, and even though he's wary of how convenient it all seems, he doesn't have the proof to say otherwise.
    • Some of Donnelly's later dialog also indicates that he's trying to get convictions for the murders to prevent mass panic erupting from the public revelation of an active serial killer.
    • Ultimately, the presence of the trope is a matter of dramatic impression vs. technical legitimacy. Dramatically, the plot can easily come across as the cast being too apathetic to both follow the evidence specific to each case and follow-up on the theory of a single mastermind. Technically, there's dialogue and plot points to make that scenario less likely: such as the killer's MO being common knowledge, inconsistencies between the crime scenes and strong motives/opportunities for some of the suspects.
  • Iron Woobie: Cole Phelps, especially after being exposed as an adulterer and giving his life to save Elsa and Jack.
  • It Was His Sled: The Black Dahlia killer is Garrett Mason. Cole Phelps dies and the Big Bad wins.
  • 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 player from enjoying his appearances, since he is also the biggest Deadpan Snarker in the game and a lot of his dialogue is hilarious.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misblamed: People blamed Nintendo for a "Switch tax" for the Nintendo Switch version of the game being full retail price, when really 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 literally 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 for crying out loud!
    • 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, 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 the some of the slowest vehicles in the game!
  • Spiritual Adaptation: This can easily be seen as Dragnet: The Game or L.A. Confidential the Game.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Some fans don't take the lack of relation 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 commited 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!?"
  • Tear Jerker: Oh, yes. This is Film Noir, after all.
  • Uncanny Valley: The faces of the people in the game are the actual faces of their voice actors. Whether this is creepy or not is up to you. If you're prone to being creeped out by realistic-looking computer animated characters, steer clear of this game. Made worse by the fact that 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.
    • 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 might make the animation fall into the uncanny valley for some.
    • The skin of everyone is incredibly smooth, and oddly shiny sometimes. Take a look at your skin and see how smooth or shiny it is.
    • It seems 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 modelled 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.
  • Values Dissonance: Cole Phelps' perceived incompetence as an officer is in large part because of the attitudes of the time. Phelps's understanding of Japanese war aims is understandable to us, but incomprehensible to his soldiers. Further, Phelps is considered a Bad Luck Charm; there is really nothing an officer can do about such a label. Finally, on Sugar Loaf, most officers would be shell-shocked by seeing their company destroyed before their very eyes; while not medal-worthy, Phelps' going into shock is completely understandable. Jack Kelso's reaction, and Phelps' own guilt over his "cowardice," is more a product of the times they lived in, when combat fatigue and PTSD were not well understood.
  • 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 an Idiot!: Suburban redevelopment fund members decided to record their meeting where they blatantly expose their crimes and leave the reel in an abandoned studio.
  • 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.


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