L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire cover 2
Developer Team Bondi
Publisher Rockstar Games
Release date(s) PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
NA May 17, 2011
EU/AU May 20, 2011
JP July 7, 2011
Microsoft Windows
NA November 8, 2011
EU/AU November 11, 2011
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One
EU/AU November 14, 2017



Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
HTC Vive
Engine(s) Custom
Havok (physics engine)
Protagonist Cole Phelps
Jack Kelso
Mode(s) Single player, Sandbox
Genre(s) Mystery
Media 3 DVD-DLs, Blu-ray Disc, Download
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature 17+
PEGI: 18+
BBFC: 18
ACB: MA 15+
Review(s) GameRankings

(PS3) 88.12%
(X360) 87.76%
(PC) 81.70%
(PS3) 89/100
(X360) 89/100
(PC) 83/100

LA Noire is a third-person neo-noir crime video game developed by Team Bondi in conjunction with Rockstar North and Rockstar San Diego, and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 May 17, 2011 in North America and May 20, 2011 in Europe and Australia.


LA Noire is set in a nearly perfectly recreated 8 square miles of Los Angeles of 1947, with players being given an open-ended challenge to solve a series of crime and murder mysteries.

As the title suggests, the game draws heavily from both plot and aesthetic elements of film noir - stylistic films from the 1940s and 1950s that shared similar visual styles and themes including crime, sex and moral ambiguity and were often shot in black and white with harsh, low-key lighting. The game uses a distinctive colouring-style as well as the choice of black-and-white in homage to the visual style of film noir. The post-war setting is the backdrop for plot elements that reference the detective films of the '40s, such as corruption and drugs, with a classical jazz soundtrack.


LA Noire's gameplay is similar to that of a crime game and an action game. You play as Cole Phelps, a police officer returning from World War II, solving cases by looking for clues and interrogating suspects. By solving crimes Phelps ranks up among the police ranks from a normal officer all the way up to a Vice detective. The game allows players to play at their own pace, allowing them to simply cruise around the 1940s Los Angeles. LA Noire also blends in an action component, allowing players to get into gun fights and car chases. Player's health isn't displayed on the HUD, instead when Phelps takes damage, the screen fades into a black and white tone. Avoiding damage reheals Phelps.


Amid the post-war boom of Hollywood's Golden Age, Cole Phelps is an LAPD detective thrown headfirst into a city drowning in its own success. Corruption is rampant, the drug trade is exploding, and murder rates are at an all-time high. In his fight to climb the ranks and do what’s right, Phelps must unravel the truth behind a string of arson attacks, racketeering conspiracies and brutal murders, battling the L.A. underworld and even members of his own department to uncover a secret that could shake the city to its rotten core.

Using groundbreaking new animation technology that captures every nuance of an actor's facial performance in astonishing detail, L.A. Noire is a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience. Search for clues, chase down suspects and interrogate witnesses as you struggle to find the truth in a city where everyone has something to hide.

Cole Phelps starts out as a cop working the beat, along with inexperienced, but capable, partner, Ralph Dunn. Together, they arrest a number of criminals and stop a bank robbery. When Cole investigates the murder of Everett Gage, Captain Donnelly of Homicide takes notice of Phelps when he catches the murderer, Edgar Kalou. Donnelly is impressed and has the Chief promote Phelps to Traffic.

While in Traffic, underneath a friendly Captain Leary, Phelps is partnered with Stefan Bekowsky and the two become friends. While first there he meets both Roy Earle and Herschel Biggs. The two solve a number of cases including hit and run, attempted murder, robbery etc., where they encounter the more violent and villainous side of people including child pornographers and rapists. While in Traffic, it's revealed that Cole doesn't like using his gun. After killing criminal Leroy Sabo, he admits it doesn't get any easier for him to kill. After a string of successes, Leary promotes Phelps to Burglary and later Homicide. Phelps and Bekowsky part as friends.

After veteran cop Floyd Rose retires, Phelps is partnered to Rose's old partner, Rusty Galloway. Galloway takes an immediate dislike towards Phelps, especially for his quick promotions. The two first investigate the murder of Celine Henry, which is eerily similar to the murder of The Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short. Galloway believes it isn't and that they would have caught him by now. However, a lot more murders come up and are very similar- all are women with drinking problems, all have some sort of message on them and all have some jewelry missing. Rusty is defiant that they're all husband killings and the pair are forced to arrest people whom Cole sometimes think are innocent. The police also receive messages and poems, supposedly from The Werewolf, but Rusty believes it's a copycat killer. Later on, all the men the partners had put away were proven innocent and it was actually all done by The Werewolf, who framed them. He leads Phelps and Galloway on a game of cat and mouse throughout Los Angeles, leaving clues for them to find. They eventually track him down to a church, where he's revealed to Garrett Mason, a bartender whom they met earlier. Phelps chases him and is forced to kill him. Donnelly says he will silently release all the suspects before their trial, but the killers identity must never be revealed because of a family status. Phelps is then promoted to Vice.

Phelps is partnered with crooked cop Roy Earle and they investigate the overdose of two black musicians on army surplus morphine. This leads them on the trail of a huge supply of morphine stolen at San Pedro. They learn that mobster Lenny Finkelstein, Mickey Cohen's brother in law, is distributing the morphine. They hunt him down as he is killed in a gunfight and the two discover all the morphine but deduce that Lenny didn't steal it but took it off someone's hands. Phelps and Earle have a strained relationship and dislike each other because they disagree with a lot of things. This is accentuated when Earle gets angry when a boxer reneged a fixed fight and he loses a lot of money. Earle only takes the case so he can get his money back. Later, they investigate the murder of two other musicians and a recent club owner, who was in Cole's former army unit. While investigating the case, Phelps has an affair with German singer, Elsa Lichtmann. Earle exploits it for his own benefit. Later on, they realize Mickey Cohen is killing all the members of Cole's unit who were on the boat where the morphine was heisted, but he believes the robber will crack sooner or later. It's revealed that Courtney Sheldon, a squad member, was in on the morphine heist which went bad when people started dying from Cohen's distribution (Sheldon wanted to use it in hospitals). Sheldon's also involved with Dr. Harlan Fontaine who took the morphine off his hands. Phelps was close to breaking Sheldon, but was suspended because of his affair and demoted to Arson. His wife kicks him out and Phelps stays with Elsa. Phelps and Earle rarely see each other afterwards.

Phelps is now under command of short tempered Lachlan McKelty and is partnered to reluctant Herschel Biggs. They don't get along at first and Biggs is ignorant towards Phelps. They investigate two family fires, in which one is killed. They discover both families won contests to go to Catalina Island, run by Elysian Fields who are part of the Suburban Redevelopment Fund, headed by Leland Monroe. They are planning on building homes for returning GI's and contest prizes are an incentive for those who are reluctant to move. Phelps believes whoever refuses to move, Monroe has their houses burnt down by an unknown arsonist, thought to be involved with InstaHeat. Once they arrest the worker with mosquito coil and a criminal record, they are still suspicious. After another fire of a GI home and a reluctant family, they discover the GI homes are poorly built with bad bricks and cement. They interview Monroe, who has a seemingly legitimate answer to everything. They know that something is up with Elysian Fields. Cole tries to get Elsa to get Jack Kelso (part of Cole's unit who hates him) from California Fire and Life to help him. Cole is warned by Earle to stay away from Elysian Fields. Kelso discovers that the houses are built from movie set wood and that Monroe, Fontaine, his boss Curtis Benson, the mayor Fletcher Bowron and the District Attorney Donald Sandler, amongst others, are involved in the Redevelopment Fund. Kelso is attacked by Monroe's thugs but manages to escape. While recovering in hospital, assistant DA Leonard Petersen approaches Kelso with a job offer and Kelso agrees once Petersen agreed to investigate the Suburban Redevelopment Fund. He interviews Benson who finds out about Benson's bribery and the large amount of insurance on the houses. While investigated further in The Hall of Records, Kelso is shocked to discover Courtney's name is on the Board of the Directors. After being attacked again by Monroe's goons, Kelso manages to shoot them all. Kelso approaches Sheldon and berates him. Sheldon finally reveals about what happened with the morphine but is also shocked when he learns about Fontaine's involvement and about himself as a director. Kelso tells him about the insurance Suburban will claim, but Sheldon refuses to believe it.

After finally agreeing to help Phelps himself, Kelso gets a call from Leland Monroe who wants to meet him but Kelso refuses. Monroe tries to coax him, saying he'll make him rich. Kelso laughs it off but says he might go around to Monroe's Mansion. Suspecting a trap, Kelso gets a few army buddies to storm the mansion with him. They kill a large number of Monroe's men, but Kelso is shot in the arm by Monroe's secretary. Kelso makes his way to Monroe's office and shoots him in the thigh. After searching his office he finds more stock certificates, Monroe's payroll, which includes Earle, and a list of people holding out on selling. Biggs calls Kelso and reveals that Elsa has been kidnapped by the arsonist and that Courtney was killed by Fontaine after asking too many questions. Monroe begs for a doctor, but Kelso forces him to give up the arsonist. Monroe tells him Fontaine had power over the arsonist and made him do all the fires, but doesn't have his name. After leaving, Monroe crawls to the phone to call for help.

Earlier, Elsa met with Fontaine and tells him she knows about the death of her friend, Lou Buchwalter, who died building the houses that Kelso found were poorly made and that Fontaine is working with Monroe. Realizing she knows too much, Fontaine knocks her out and he prepared to kill her. However she is saved by the arsonist who comes in and strangles Fontaine and takes Elsa away. When Phelps and Biggs find Sheldon's dead body, Earle arrives saying it's his collar. Cole loses his temper and threatens Earle with death. Phelps happily revealed that his corrupt life is drawing to a close, but Earle just laughs. After finding out the arsonist is a bug sprayer, Kelso manages to track down where he lives. He discovers the arsonist is insane and is actually a former member of his unit- Ira Hogeboom, a flamethrower man. Phelps and Biggs investigate the murder of Fontaine and find a stash of morphine and papers that indicate that people dying in the fires is attracting too much attention. They also discover Monroe's and Fontaine's scheme- it's not about insurance. The government will be building freeways in the path of new houses and the government will pay off the improved value of the land. Since the houses are worthless, Suburban nets millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Kelso finds out that Ira's holding Elsa in the sewers and enlists Phelp's and Bigg's help. They help defend Kelso from crooked cops trying to kill him and the trio head to the sewers. Petersen is unable to stop all of the men on Suburban's payroll from following them in the sewers. Kelso gets into a large shootout with all the men before finding Elsa. Ira had been sent by Cole to burn a cave acting as a hospital full of Japanese civilians in the war (Cole not knowing it was full of civilians), which made him lose his mind. Fontaine helped him and he helped Fontaine, although he never wanted to kill anyone in the burnings. Ira asks Kelso to put him out of his misery, to which Kelso does. The water is rising rapidly, and Phelps manages to get Elsa and Kelso out, with the help of Biggs. A huge current sweeps toward Phelps. He utters a simple "goodbye" before it swept him away, killing him.

At Phelp's funeral, Earle speaks for Phelps, to a saddened Elsa's disgust. Earle said he was wrongly accused in the department scandal. He then calls Phelps "a good friend", before shaking hands with Petersen. Biggs says that Cole was never Kelso's friend. Kelso responds that they were never enemies, to which Biggs says that he thinks Cole knew that.


Like Rockstar Games's crime epics Grand Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption has many deep and violent themes. These are the two themes of L.A. Noire:

The first is that there is no redemption in this kind of story except in death. The second one is atonement and the lack of forgiveness for those who have gone astray. This means that it won't matter what lengths Cole goes to make up for his past mistakes, he can never escape from them.


L.A. Noire was originally a PlayStation 3 exclusive title. Brendan McNamara who previously worked for Team Soho, departed from his original company which developed the largely successful crime game The Getaway. Team Bondi and Sony Entertainment Studios had a falling out and Rockstar Games, developer of the hugely successful Grand Theft Auto series and Midnight Club series announced that L.A. Noire will be developed for the home consoles, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, despite originally being a PS3 exclusive.

L.A. Noire was originally meant to be released during 2007 but was delayed, then announced to be released in 2008 and 2009 and delayed again. Information about L.A. Noire was minimal until GameInformer chose L.A. Noire to be its front cover game in March 2010. Team Bondi released a trailer for L.A. Noire, since there hasn't been any video footage of the game since a trailer released not long after the games original announcement showing actual in-game footage. Team Bondi released a new trailer for the game about the Red Lipstick murder and a few weeks later, another trailer about The Naked City pre-order exclusive was shown and the technology behind MotionScan, the technology used to capture the facial movements of the game.

Team Bondi have also released 2 Gameplay series trailers since then, the first look at actual gameplay. Gameplay series Orientation shows basic gameplay mechanics such as fighting, interviewing and searching for clues. Gameplay series Interrorgation and Investigation was based around two of some of the most important gameplay mechanics in the game, investigation and interrogation.

L.A. Noire was released on the 17th May for North America and the 20th of May for the rest of the world.

The Xbox 360 version of L.A. Noire consists of 3 discs; the PS3 version comes on a single Blu-ray disc.


L.A. Noire became famous due to the technology used for the game's development, a technology called MotionScan. MotionScan is a new performance capture technology and an alternative to traditional motion capture. It utilizes 32 high-definition cameras that completely surround the actor and capture the performance in 3D at 30 frames-per-second. MotionScan is a technology provided by Depth Analysis, a sister company to Team Bondi and part of a special partnership with Rockstar Games. Every character in L.A. Noire uses MotionScan technology and over 400 actors were filmed making the game. This new technology helped the game to be recognized around the world, and thanks to it, L.A. Noire is one of the most promising games of 2011.


L.A. Noire has received critical acclaim, with critics praising the game for its story and facial animation technology. The game holds a score of 89 out of 100 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and 83 for the PC on Metacritic, which is considered "Generally favorable" on the website. GameRankings rated the PlayStation 3 version 88.12% the Xbox 360 version 87.76% and the PC version 81.70%.

The UK newspaper The Guardian gave the game a perfect score of five stars, stating "Ever since it first worked out how to assemble pixels so that they resembled something more recognizable than aliens, the games industry has dreamed of creating one thing above all else – a game that is indistinguishable from a film, except that you can control the lead character. With L.A. Noire, it just might, finally, have found the embodiment of that particular holy grail." X-Play, GamePro and Giant Bomb gave the game a perfect score of five stars too, praising it for its story, graphics and feeling.

Famistu gave the game a near perfect score of 39/40, with a 10, 10, 10, and 9, placing it as one of the highest rated games in Japan. IGN gave the game 8.5 out of 10, stating that the game "may not reach the emotional heights of a game like Heavy Rain, but it's something everyone must try out. It reaches high and almost succeeds as a brilliant new type of video game narrative." GameTrailers gave the game a 9.1 out of 10, concluding that it "floors you out of the gate, loses some steam due to repetition, but eventually wins the day thanks to its subtlety, attention to detail, and stunning character interaction." GameZone gave the game an 8.5/10, stating that "The story is intriguing, albeit a little slow at first. L.A. Noire takes an old school approach toward its storytelling. It’s a much slower approach, similar to older movies, with a heavy emphasis on detail. It is that attention to detail that sets L.A. Noire apart from other games and makes it enjoyable to play."

Eurogamer and Edge both gave the game 8/10, with Edge praising the facial technology, and pointed out that while there are no other major aspects of the game that had not been done better elsewhere, the fact that Team Bondi had brought together such a wide range of game genres in such a stylish, atmospheric, and cohesive manner was an achievement that few developers had managed.The Official Xbox Magazine gave the game an 8/10 too. 1UP gave it a perfect score, but the website also warned that the extended cut-scenes in the game could make some players feel they lost control of the action.

Despite having very positive reviews, many reviewers said that the game has too many cutscenes which are very long, leaving a small amount of free movement for the player.


  • GameTrailers - Best New IP of 2011
  • VGChartz - Best IP of 2011
  • GameSpot - Best Atmosphere of 2011
  • Eurogamer - 11th Best Game of the Year


L.A. Noire was the best selling game of May 2011, selling more than 899,000 copies for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game became the best selling new IP ever in UK, and stayed on the top of the sellings for over three weeks. In Japan, the game sold more than 71,000 copies for both consoles.

As of early 2012, L.A. Noire sold more than 5 million copies.

The Complete Edition

In July 2011, Rockstar Games announced a PC version of L.A. Noire, dubbed "The Complete Edition", which contained all of the previous DLC from the game, including the Nicholson Electroplating Arson case, Reefer Madness Vice case, The Consul's Car Traffic case, The Naked City Vice case, A Slip of the Tongue Traffic case, The Badge Pursuit Challenge, and all weapons and outfits released to date.

The game was released on 8 November in North America, and 11 November internationally. On 20 October 2011, Rockstar announced that the same edition would be available for the PS3 and Xbox 360 a week after the PC release, on 15 November in North America, and 18 November internationally.


  • L.A. Noire is heavily influenced by the films L.A. Confidential, Chinatown, and The Naked City, among many others, using characters and locations similar to various noire movies.
  • "Noire" is the feminine form of the French word "noir" meaning "black".
  • When the player encounters the orange Neon sign reading "L.A. Noire" before loading the game, the letters L, I, and E never flicker, spelling Lie, in that order.
  • Being set in the 1947, the game's setting has a few features that did not exist at the time and a few factual errors.
    • Many of the vehicles and songs in the game are from 1948 or 1949, the most notable being the 1949 Chevrolet Styleline.
    • In one case, there is a letter with a ZIP code. ZIP codes were not introduced until 1963.
    • The animation for characters entering cars shows that they are putting on 3-point seat belts. Lap style seat belts were not even offered as options in cars until 1949 and 3-point seat belts were patented in 1955.
    • Many storefronts display a 50-star American flag. The 49th and 50th states would not be admitted until 1959.
  • L.A. Noire is banned in Saudi Arabia because it contains scenes of nudity.
  • L.A. Noire was the first game to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was shown as an hour-long film, followed by a session where the audience could ask questions to the developers about the making of the game.
  • A majority of the actors in this game have appeared on the show Mad Men including Aaron Staton who plays Cole Phelps.
  • It is so far the only Rockstar game this generation to be published by them but not developed by Rockstar.



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